Memorial Day

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13

In Remembrance on this Memorial Day

In Remembrance – Sugar Land, Texas
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 40D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 21mm, f/14 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 100 using a B&W circular polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

A Little Peace and Quiet

It’s been a tough few days. Last week I came down with an eye infection (really?) which prevented me from doing much shooting. Once that clears up (just in time for an afternoon workshop in La Grange, Texas) I come down with the flu and spend 24 hours in bed. If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Thank the Lord for friends like Mark, Sabrina and Ray that make me laugh, make me smile and send me coffee from Port Townsend, WA. Man, did I ever need some peace and quiet!

Peace and Quiet

Peace & Quiet – Smithville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 22mm, f/16 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray circular polarizer and 3-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

The Texas Hill Country

Just a little something to help you relax and unwind after a hard day at work!

 
Texas Hill Country Video
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Video created in Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Best shown in full-screen HD.
 
The Bioluminescence of the Night
Copyright © 2009 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

If you’d like to visit and photograph some of these spots, join us for the Fall 2010 Texas Landscape Safari.

I Love Waterfalls

Sorry about the “No Blog” Monday but I returned from a Saturday afternoon workshop to wake up Sunday with a fever and blistering headache. As they like to say around here, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck”.

Here’s a shot I took last month during the spring Texas Landscape Safari workshop at Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, the home town of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. This is one of my favorite spots to photograph in the entire state because every visit presents me with new opportunities to shoot as river’s currents change from one day to the next. You could come here with a camera every day for a year and never get the same shot twice.

Upper Pedernales Falls

Upper Pedernales Falls – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 100mm, f/25 for 1/5th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray circular polarizer and 3-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

What Golden Hours?

I know, I know.

We’re only supposed to shoot landscapes during those “golden hours” around sunrise and sunset. Yes, I realize that most outdoor magazines won’t even consider a landscape image taken at other times of the day.

Being the stubborn Irishman that I am, I just can’t sit around all day waiting for those “golden hours” to occur. Life is Too Short (LTS) and I shoot landscapes and nature whenever I can find the time. That means shooting whenever I find some decent light and a good subject. It might be 7:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 2:30 PM or 8:00 PM.

Luckily, Texas is a big place and the weather here changes faster than most folks can change their mind. We have some of the biggest skies I’ve seen on four continents and the most wonderful clouds a photographer could ever ask for. With a little luck and a lot of patience, even 5:30 in the afternoon can become a “golden hour”.

PS: It does help to carry around a few key filters like a circular polarizer and a graduated neutral density filter.

Lake Buescher

Lake Buescher – Smithville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 38mm, f/16 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray circular polarizer and 4-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Sunsets

Every landscape photographer loves a good sunset and most will forgo food and sleep to find the best vantage to capture the perfect light. Sunsets as fickle creatures. Bold and brilliant one moment and dull and lifeless the next.

Sunset Over Smithville

Sunset Over Smithville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 200mm, f/16 for 0.8 seconds at ISO 100 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

I have photographed hundreds of sunsets and never come back 100% satisfied. I suppose that’s exactly what the Lord had in mind when he gave us so many to witness and capture!

Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky – Smithville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 144mm, f/16 for 0.6 seconds at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer and 4-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Flora & Fauna

You don’t have to look very hard for something wonderful to photograph here in Texas. As I tell my friends, “it’s a target rich environment”. Sometimes you capture the big views and sometimes the small views. Both work very well in the springtime!

Flora

Flora – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/4 for 1/320th of a second at ISO 200 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Charlie the Caterpillar

Charlie the Caterpiller – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/5.6 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 200 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Using a Graduated Neutral Density Filter

By now, everyone knows I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy when it comes to getting the correct exposure “in-camera” as opposed to in “post”. For me, post-capture processing in Lightroom or Photoshop is a matter of tweaking a RAW file to obtain what I remember seeing when I took the shot. Since many of you reading this blog are relatively new to photography and perhaps to the use of filters, I thought I’d explain my basic setup for the shots of Monument Hill shown below.

Using a Graduated Neutral Density Filter

The image above illustrates a typical setup for a landscape shot with my 5DII on a lightweight but sturdy tripod (Gitzo Traveller using an RRS ball-head) and a Singh-Ray graduated neutral density filter held in place by a Cokin “P-Series” holder, mounted on a wide-angle zoom. The graduated neutral density filter is generally a 2, 3 or 4-stop / soft ND Grad made by Singh-Ray, a company that designs and builds probably the highest quality filters in the world.

Monument Hill - No Filter

Monument Hill (with no filter) – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/16 for 1/25th of a second at ISO 100 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

The purpose of the “ND Grad” filter is to “hold back” the bright sky to balance the foreground exposure as shown in this late afternoon shot. Using an ND Grad allows your DSLR to meter for the mid-tones without blowing out the bright highlights in the sky. The image above was taken without an ND Grad filter and you can see how dark the trees are in the foreground while the clouds in the background are almost completely blown out. Compare that with the image below where both the trees and the sky are exposed properly and you begin to see how powerful a graduated neutral density filter can be.

Monument Hill - NDG

Monument Hill (using an ND Grad) – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 using a circular polarizer and a Singh-Ray 3-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

The great thing about a graduated neutral density filter is that you the photographer, have complete control over how much light the filter blocks by changing its position in the filter holder. Many photographers (myself included) prefer to hold the filter against the lens by hand, moving it to achieve exactly the effect we want.

One of my favorite landscape photographers Steve Kossack, is famous for teaching students “conscious control over colors and light” and a big part of his craft is in using the right filter at the right time. Steve’s also famous for hand-holding and moving his ND-Grad filters during the exposure so that each image is unique and one of a kind.

Getting control of the colors and the light “in-camera” using a graduated neutral density filter is a great way to bring some control to your landscape photography.