All Fame is Fleeting

How fleeting is fame. On Friday I was the rising star of the blogosphere, having been Freshly Pressed by the folks at WordPress and watching my page views soar into the heavens. By Saturday afternoon I was back to work in La Grange and Smithville scouting locations for next Saturday’s HANPA (Houston Audubon Nature Photography Association) workshop. Sunday morning was spent paying the bills and seeing if I could use some creative accounting to stretch my cash flow once again. And by Sunday night I was furiously working to put together a proof portfolio for a prospective commercial client.

Somehow, this all seemed a lot easier in my youth. Working seven days a week seemed simple back then, when the creative juices flowed through much younger veins. When five or six hours of sleep and a cup of hot coffee was all that was needed to jump start things on a Monday morning. I think Toby Keith’s latest song hits the nail square on the head.

“I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m good once as I ever was.”

Happy Monday Folks!

Oasis

Oasis – 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 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 17mm, f/22 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 using 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.

You Really Do Need a Good Tripod

I rant and rave about the pitfalls of gear lust in our industry and how this expensive little vice can ruin a photographer’s creative spirit. Folks that hear me speak or attend my workshops get the same worn out lecture over and over (just ask Glenn).

However, to be a successful landscape photographer you really do have to invest in a sturdy but light-weight carbon-fiber tripod and a good quality ball head & clamp. This is the one area where you just can’t “go cheap” and get by on something less. And folks, this is going to set you back over $750. (Sorry Lesley, I just had to write this!)

I strongly urge you to buy a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod and a Really Right Stuff ball head & clamp. Or if you’re feeling very generous, look at one of RRS’s brand new carbon-fiber tripods made in the USA. Either Gitzo or RRS gear will last a lifetime (or longer) and your back will thank you on every hike you make to capture those great landscape shots.

Getting a shot as sharp as the image below takes a rock-steady tripod. Hiking the miles it takes to find this type of location takes a strong back and a lot of stamina. Try lugging around a ten pound tripod and see how many of these shots you miss from sheer exhaustion. Do yourself and your craft a favor. Get yourself a carbon-fiber tripod!

By way of a disclaimer for the FTC, I have a very good relationship with both Gitzo and Really Right Stuff. I pay them for their fine products and they happily accept my money just as they do for thousands of other photographers. ;-)

Dusk on the Pedernales

Dusk on the Pedernales – 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 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 20mm, f/16 for 0.8 seconds at ISO 200 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Bluebonnets

No spring landscape series would be complete without a field of bluebonnets enhanced by some very narrow depth of field. It’s a “classic” shot and very simple to pull off. All you need is wide open aperture which provides very narrow DOF, a very fast shutter speed to stop the flower’s movement and a circular polarizer to saturate the beautiful colors.

Just a typical spring afternoon in the Texas Hill Country.

Field of Bluebonnets

Field of Bluebonnets – Llano, 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 hand-held. The exposure was taken at 116mm, f/5 for 1/800th of a second at ISO 200 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Pedernales Falls Duotone

Sometimes I miss the old days of shooting Kodak’s Pan-X, Plus-X and my favorite, Tri-X. In many ways, photography was much simpler back then but in others, much more complicated. Shooting successfully in B&W meant paying close attention to composition and exposure and this really sharpened your eye as a young photographer.

Before I get all nostalgic, it’s important to remember how many rolls of Tri-X turned to mush during “push processing” and how many sheets of 8″ x 10″ paper I wasted before I learned to dodge and burn using the enlarger. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great way to learn your craft but boy, was it expensive compared to working in “digital” today.

Take this shot for example. Sepia toning in the 70′s took great skill, patience and a bit of luck. Today, converting a “fair” looking shot to B&W to add some drama and then creating a duotone takes all of 30 seconds in Adobe Lightroom. It’s great fun to experiment in Lightroom knowing that all edits are non-destructive and that you have infinite undo steps if you want to back-up and start over. And the cost of this experimentation is ZERO, NADA, Nothing. It’s free!

Pedernales Falls Duotone

Pedernales Falls Duotone – 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 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 19mm, f/16 for 1/6th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 3-Stop Graduated Neutral Density filter. All post capture processing (including the duotone conversion) was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Texas Rainforest

Gorman Falls in the Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas, Texas is one of the most beautiful spots to photograph in the entire state. I never get tired of visiting this spot and spending hour after hour visually exploring what many have come to call the Texas Rainforest.

Texas Rainforest

Texas Rainforest – Bend, 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 67mm, f/16 for 1/2 second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Red & Yellow

Here are some bright colors to help wake you up on a sleepy Monday morning. It’s not the same as a hot cup of coffee but it just might help your eyes focus a bit better.

Have a great week!

Red & Yellow

Red & Yellow – Llano, 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 USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/4 for 1/800th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Life Abounds

I’m always amazed as I wander through the Hill Country, just how tenacious life is in the most rugged of places. This is especially true in the spring when Texas wildflowers begin to bloom. Life Abounds!

Life Abounds

Life Abounds – Fredericksburg, 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 40mm, f/16 for 3.2 seconds at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

How To Get This Type of Shot

  • As with most landscape shots, the trick is to use a very steady tripod to eliminate as much camera shake as possible. This is especially true with any exposure over 1 second.
  • Another tip is to make sure your camera’s long exposure noise reduction feature is turned on. Low light situations and long exposures can create a lot of digital noise and your camera’s long exposure noise reduction feature should eliminate almost all of it.
  • Finally, it’s important to add back a little warmth to this type of image, shot in full shade after sunset. Adjusting your white balance slightly warmer in Adobe Lightroom is a great way to add some “zing” to your landscape images.

The Tree of Life

Happy Friday Everyone. Here’s to the end of a long and tiring week. Here’s another shot taken from the top of Enchanted Rock in the Texas Hill Country. The views from up here at sunset are truly spectacular and well worth the 400 foot climb.

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life – Fredericksburg, 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 1/10th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 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.

How To Get This Type of Shot

  • The trick to getting this type of shot is to use a very steady tripod. The winds atop Enchanted Rock can gust to 35 mph and it’s darn near impossible to get a sharp image when hand-holding your camera. A good quality carbon-fiber tripod can make all the difference in the world.
  • Using the right filters is also vital to getting this type of shot. I always use a circular polarizer to cut down the harsh glare and to add saturation to the colors.
  • The most important “trick” in getting this type of shot is to use a graduated neutral density filter. This little beauty lets you balance the exposure differences between the rocks in the foreground and the clouds in the background. Some folks do this “in post” by bracketing their exposures and merging them into an HDR image. I prefer to do this the “in camera” using a graduated ND filter. I think it provides a more realistic looking result.