The garden of Eden was in Colorado

MAROON BELLS-02-FB-58MPGarden of Eden, Maroon Bells – F/22 @ 2 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, 6X12, 3-stop ND, 58MP, click photo for L

I woke myself around 1am. The drive to Aspen was 3 hours from my current location in Colorado. Its been a good 3 days so far, I was to able to go to places in Utah and Wyoming. Southwest is a special place for me, with all these unlimited places to shoot. I’m blessed to be able to visit them. Thanks to all the people who preserved these places for us and for the next generation. I do hope fracking wont mess things up. LOL.

I arrived at Maroon Lake 5am and it was still very dark. I read that at one point there were 100 tripods in this location and I don’t wanna miss out. I guess I was too early but then I got the best spot imo. A few minutes later 3 cars came and I said to myself this is good at least I was alone no more. I spoke with this gentleman from St Louis it was his first time there too.

MAROON BELLS-04-FB-55MP 6X18, shot earlier, click photo for L

The composition here was very simple since this has been photographed a million times before, lake reflections with the Maroon Bells as subject and Maroon Lake as foreground. To have a perfect reflection there must be no ripples in the water. The conditions were pretty good so far at 539am, no wind, no birds messing up the water. I set up my tripod and I was looking at 7 stitches with the horizon at the center.

As the mountains came out from the shadows, gorgeous is the best word to describe the whole place. Man, this must be the garden of Eden! I don’t wonder why so many photographers come here 365 days a year. I waited a little bit more for the sun to light up the mountain and began shootin! That Aspen glow! This place is beyond gorgeous in the fall season with all that color reflections.

The Tetons!

GRAND TETON-LE-FB-66MPThe Tetons – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – F/14 @ 30 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, 10-stop filter, 66 MP, click photo for L

It was my 2nd day in the Southwest. I was looking at the map, Grand Teton is just 4 hours away from my hotel in Southern WY. My friend told me you don’t get assigned there that often, go drive! Hopped to my FJ Cruiser rental and off to the Grand Teton. Half way to the drive it started raining, like pouring hard. The radio channel I was listening to was having a thunderstorm warning. I did not know it was going to rain, I did not check! But I was still driving, even if I couldn’t take photos at least I could still see the Grand Teton. The rain stop like an hour left to drive, thank God!

There are still icecaps even in the summer in these mountains, amazing! It is indeed grand! Pardon my excitement, we do not have something like this in the East coast. I was in the snake river overlook along the SR-191, where Ansel Adams took his famous photo of the Grand Teton with the snake river in the foreground and the tetons as subjects. I was in his footsteps, same composition. It felt good to be where he was standing with his camera box. I could imagine how difficult it was. Nowadays, it is easy with the DSLR, instant feedback from my 3″ back display.

The sunset was still 3 hours away. The lighting conditions were not that bad, I could still take photos with an overcast skies. I used a 10-stop filter to prolong my shutter to 30 seconds to somehow capture some cloud movement. It’s not possible without the ND filter. It was not windy at all so the trees won’t be blurry after 30 seconds. These are the conditions I check when I shoot.

Anyway, after I shoot I went to my car, opened my laptop to stitch the photos and I was happy with the result. No need to do another shot or composition. I don’t change locations anymore when I shoot, I choose a good spot and that is it. Because when I do otherwise, I just screw the subsequent photos, so I rather stay in one location.

When I left, it started raining again. What a day! 8 hour drive for one photo.

I do hope I can come back to the Grand Teton but this time with my family. I’m sure they’re going to love it. Hope you can come too! Wyoming man! It’s a beautiful country.

Flamin’ Gorge

FLAMIN GORGE-UTAH-FB-123MPFlaming Gorge – Red Canyon, Utah – F/22 @ 1/6 sec, 24mm, ISO 100, 123 MP, click photo for L

I was in Northern Utah because of you know..taking photos. LOL. I had the chance to drive to Flaming Gorge area near Ashley National Forest. The 2-hour drive there was pretty interesting because of the rock formations along the way. Landscape scenes were abundant! I fell in love with Utah and this is just the Northern part. I can live in this place, in fact I’ll find work here.

As I was looking at this gorge in Red Canyon Overlook, a problem came to mind, how am I gonna give justice to this place using my DSLR. The place was massive! Huge! Humongous! If you can find the white dot, that’s a boat! I tried taking test shots and they were cr*p, overexposed sky and very dark shadows. If I waited more time for the sun to go down, it’d be all shadows!

The composition was just really to leave little of the sky since my focus was this green river below and these cliffs surrounding it getting hit by the sun. I used HDR technique to somehow even out the final exposure of the image. I metered at 1/6 second, set the 5-HDR bracket of my camera and took 10 frames X 5 shots each frame equals 50 RAW image. The HDR was 2..1..0..-1..2, my 0 was 1/6 seconds go figure the rest. The preset I used was “natural” in Photomatix 5. Stitched them in Photoshop CC and post process in Lightroom 5, the result a 126 Mega pixel panorama.

Philly is so underrated

BOATHOUSEROW-FB-32MPBoat House Row 2 – F/20 @ 30 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, -1EV, 32 MP

The photo is of Boat House Row in Schuylkill river Philadelphia, shot right after sundown. It’s very easy to overexpose the sky during a sunset specially if you are not using graduated neutral density filter. When the metering is set to matrix, the camera sensor measures the average meter of the scene. When I metered this shot the sky became overexposed, so I had to step back 1-stop to all the frames for this panorama to underexpose the sky and then adjusted the shadows in Lightroom.

PHILADELPHIASKYLINE-FB-54MPMoonrise Over Philadelphia – F/13 @ 20 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, 54MP

I shot this second photo without knowing that there was a moon rise! Pretty cool in my opinion. The moon that is..

I am upping my Philadelphia portfolio because I have many inquiries about them. You never know!

Happy independence day America!

PHILADELPHIA4THOFJULY-FB-71MPPhiladelphia 4th of July – F/8 @ 20 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, 71MP

I made the last minute decision to go to Philadelphia and be at South Street to take photos of fireworks. My last fireworks photoshoot was in New York 2012 and I swore that I’d never go back there on July 4th. The traffic was just horrible going back home.

Anyway, I took multiple shots of the frame with the fireworks in it and then proceeded to take the other frames to create the panorama. The shot with the fireworks in it was the first frame. I then chose the shot with defined fireworks action. I used a 20 second exposure in all frames. The panorama was limited to 6 frames resulting to a little bit of distortion. Too many people standing side by side there in the bridge. I need to have at least 7 frames to make a distortion free panorama.

All 6 RAW files were stitch in Photoshop using Photomerge, saved the 300MB file as TIFF and exported to Lightroom 5 for post processing. As always I cropped the final image to 6 X 18 resulting to 71 Mega pixel photo.

Hope you enjoy the long weekend!!


One Second Rush

NIAGARA01-FB-77MPOne Second Rush – F/10 @ 1 sec, 24mm, ISO 100, 8-stitch, 77MP

Here is an 8-stitch panoramic shot of Niagara River in Upstate New York. The distance, speed and massiveness of the water would only require 1 second for me. But it really depends on your taste.

I set the shutter at 1 second, ISO 100, white balance daylight and from there adjusted the aperture or F-stop to meter to F/10. This was shot when the sun was almost out hence the F/10 aperture.

The walks in Niagara Falls Park are under construction. Only a small portion near the waterfall where tourist are allowed. If you want a better spot go to the Canadian side. :)


BROOKLYN-HDR-FB-60MPClouds Over Lower Manhattan – F/16 @ 0.3 sec, 24mm, ISO 100, -2..1..0..1..2, 60MP

I was in New York the whole week and I had to drop by Brooklyn to once again take photos of this iconic location. Don’t you guys know that New York is the number one tourist destination in the world and it’s just right here in our backyard? lol.

The first photo was rendered in HDR, -2..-1..0..1..2 @ 0.3 seconds. These are 5 vertical frames X 5 RAW shots each frame. Same process from my previous blog.

The second photo was taken minutes after the first one with long exposure. I added an ND8 (3-stops) filter so that I can prolong the shutter to 30 seconds. It was windy and cloudy that time which is a good combination for us landscapers, but the sun was already gone. I wish I had done long exposure first before the HDR. Oh well!

BROOKLYN01-FB-60MPThe Real Brooklyn Afternoon – F/20 @ 30 seconds, 24mm, ISO 100, ND8, 60MP

Which one do you like most, for real?



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