Archive for the ‘NIK Software’ Tag

Cabin in the Cradle   7 comments


Cabin in the Cradle

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During our recent trip to the Pisgah National Forest, our travels were hobbled by the so-called “government shutdown.” While we were free to travel the roads within the forest – really, how do you close a forest – signs of the shutdown were visible. In some cases, literally signs, such as “Campground Closed.” In other spots near attractions, garbage cans were overflowing with trash, barriers were set up, and restrooms and picnic areas were locked. Utterly ridiculous.

We had to find whatever we could, despite the circumstances, in order to salvage the trip.

Near the Cradle of Forestry location, we found this nice pair of cabins just off the road, set up as an example of early life in this area. Yup… Closed. That didn’t stop us from standing just outside the fence to frame up a photo opportunity.

Given the old nature of the scene, I decided to go with a Wet Plate look (collodion process) after merging and basic processing. Switching back and forth between this and the standard color version, this idea stood above all other attempts, although the color version was compelling in its own right.

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Back Whence It Came   6 comments


Back Whence It Came

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Tree. Wood. Ore. Metal. A wagon forged by the hand of a man. All will decay. Nothing lasts forever.

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We descended to the bottom of the trail shortly before 5PM, knowing our target. Placed near the equipment shed for the old Stone House, these wagons have been in place and deteriorating beautifully for years.

Unfortunately, since it was 5 o’clock, a few maintenance people were converging on the shed, parking their trucks in all the good spots. Problem. I didn’t think twice before walking up to one of them and jocularly saying, “You know, I traveled over 1,000 miles just to shoot these wagons.” Oh… you’ll move your truck? Why, thanks!

The guys were talking together, but surely also sizing up these people from ‘Away.’ One of them, an older gentleman in bright red suspenders who looked like a cross between Albert Einstein and Kris Kringle, was Frank. I know this because he had a huge sign made of welded pipe running across the back window of his pickup truck – his “Office”.

The sign said, “F – R – A – N – K

I asked him, “Are you Frank?”

“Nope. I’m Ernest,” he replied in a deep New England accent.

“Somehow I doubt that,” I said as we shared a knowing laugh.

And with that, we were introduced to Frank Eastman, a colorful local who has tended the grounds of the Stone House for several decades. After the other guys went home, we chatted with Frank for quite a while. He had worked with the Maine DOT for many years. We talked about how someone had once offered to restore the wagons for display, but Frank had declined, preferring to see them decay in their natural form. After a time, he felt comfortable enough to let us in on a local trail secret — a waterfall that most people don’t know about — and he asked if I could shoot it for him someday.

That’s for next year, when I’ll likely meet up with Frank again. Some people you just want to keep in touch with.

“Sorry. I Wasn’t Expecting Company.”   8 comments


The interior of a cluttered farm shed with rusty implements and an old refrigerator in North Carolina

"Sorry. I Wasn't Expecting Company."

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Coming in with a late post for the day…

I worked this image up to go along with an article I wrote recently, highlighting the differences between accepting the simple output from one HDR program versus giving a set of brackets a lot of love with different tools and programs.

On Friday, 1/21/11 the article posted on YourPhotoTips.com, and can be found HERE.  It’s called Express Yourself… Completely!

Taken inside an old barn and shed on a local farm, this is turning out to be one of my favorite locations due to its ‘target rich’ environment. The owner graciously allowed me to wander around freely, so I was able to grab some great detail shots this time. Being respectful, I resisted the urge to see if there was any cold beer in the fridge.

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Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 17mm at f/5.6, seven exposures +/-1EV using Promote Control. Photomatix Pro, HDR Express, 32 Float, Nik Color Efex Pro, and Photoshop all had a hand in this one… but that was exactly the point of the article!

Autumn in New England: Bemis Brook Falls   2 comments


A view of Bemis Falls, New Hampshire, in the White Mountains on a foggy and rainy day

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Kay Gaensler’s recent images from New England had me feeling nostalgic for the trip we took there this past September, so I went back to the library to find this nice waterfall image.

On the trail to the outstanding 200′ Arethusa Falls lie a number of smaller cascades and pools. This is the Bemis Brook Falls, if I’m not mistaken, and the rainy, foggy day made for a perfect backdrop to the falls. Even though we love to climb and gain elevation, on days like this the effort just isn’t worth the limited view. Instead, we try to find nice walks in the woods, or waterfalls, or a dry camp shelter to hang out in for a while.

You can click on the image for a larger view in a new window.

Merged from six exposures +/-1EV in  HDR Express from Unified Color, with added Shadowmapping at 10%.  Nik Color Efex Pro White Neutralizer took the gray out of the water; Tonal Contrast to crispen details; Vignette Blur for enhanced mist effect. Topaz Detail brought up a bit of color.

A Seagull Thanksgiving   1 comment


An old, dried up fish head sits on a piling at Fort Macon State Park, North Carolina

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And what would a seagull want for Thanksgiving dinner?

“Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads,
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up yum

Ask a fish head, anything you want to,
They won’t answer, they can’t talk.”

There. If you’re at all familiar with this Barnes and Barnes song featured on Dr. Demento, then you’ll have this foolish and annoying ditty running through your head all day today… just like me. Grrrrr…

This poor soul was found as-is on a ramp piling at Fort Macon State Park in eastern North Carolina. With no tripod, I went for the hand-held brackets at +/-2EV.  Photomatix Pro 4, Nik filters, and Topaz InFocus made it worthwhile, and not just a little bit gross.

Click on the image to see it in all its disgusting glory.

Better get there before Charles DeGull gets all the good stuff…

A curious seagull with a silly expression, at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

Charles DeGull

Big Back Yard   2 comments


Sunrise over Whiting Bay from Cobscook Bay State Park, northern Maine

Big Back Yard

With sunrises like this, it’s hard to leave the place. This was taken one morning at Cobscook Bay State Park in northern Maine, not far from Lubec.

Our tent is just a few feet behind this point of view, making morning shooting very convenient. We often joke about our new campsites having a much bigger back yard than we have at home, and we find no greater pleasure than to just sit and watch nature do its thing, or to capture it in the process.

On a side note, I often think twice about posting in portrait orientation due to the limits of today’s monitors, but in this case, I think it suits the subject well, although I may next try a vertical panorama.

Click on the image to see it larger in a new window in the Waterscapes Gallery.

Once again, this image was composited in Photoshop by layering outputs from seven brackets in Photomatix Pro 4, HDR Expose/32-Float, and HDR Efex Pro. Each had something interesting and unique to offer to the final image, and none really created what I wanted in and of itself. Beyond that layering and masking, there was very little done in the way of color or saturation. In fact, I knocked back the saturation a bit using Topaz Adjust ‘Neutralizer’. In the end, this image represents what I saw that morning, but sometimes you have to coax it out of the brackets.

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