Cathedral – Silverton, Texas

Cathedral of the Canyons

Cathedral – Silverton, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/16 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons Book

My second book, Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons is available today for delivery before Christmas. I’ve had a lot of fun putting this 70 page book together and there’s a special treat for photographers on each page. Taking a cue from many of Wyman Meinzer’s incredible books, I’ve included my exact settings for each of the 50 images presented in the book including the camera, lens and exposure. It’s my hope that this information will help other photographers enjoy the incredible photographic opportunities available in the Texas panhandle.

Here’s a Sample to Whet Your Whistle

 

As many of you know, my love affair with the Texas plains and canyons began with an invitation from a fellow photographer Jerod Foster and with my daughter Kelly’s decision to attend Texas Tech in Lubbock. These two seemingly random events opened my eyes to one of the most beautiful and majestic regions in our great state and an area that calls to me like a bee to honey. Join me as I explore the rugged outback of the Texas panhandle with its rich history and unique geology and geography. From the verdant plains to the deepest canyons, it’s a region like no other.

Jeff Lynch
December 2010

Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons

Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons (10″ x 8″ x 70 pages, Autographed)
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography, Ltd.
$39.95 + $5.00 for Shipping and Handling (USPS – US & Canada)
$39.95 + $15.00 for Shipping and Handling (USPS – International)

Coming Soon!

Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons

Click on the image above for a sneak peek.

Tule Canyon in Black & White

Here’s a shot of an incredible rock formation found at the very south end of Tule Canyon near Silverton, Texas. Exploring the western edge of Tule Canyon near the MacKenzie Reservoir yields some of the most interesting history and geology in the entire state.

Standing here on a hot summer afternoon, it’s easy to imagine this canyon filled with vast herds of buffalo being hunted by the Apache on horseback. It’s also easy to imagine what Coranado must have thought when he first came upon this region during his El Dorado expedition in 1540’s. What an incredible place to explore.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tule Canyon Formation

Tule Canyon Formation – Silverton, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/16 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plug-in.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Monument

If you’re like me, you grew up watching reruns of black & white westerns from the late 50’s and early 60’s and couldn’t get enough of the “old west”. Movies like High Noon with Gary Copper and Grace Kelly and television shows like The Rifleman with Chuck Conners were how many of us spent our Saturday afternoon when the chores were done.

My favorites were the John Ford westerns shot in Monument Valley, Utah. I just couldn’t get enough of movies like Fort Apache, Rio Grande, The Searchers and Cheyenne Autumn and I fell in love with the rugged landscape of the old west. John Ford’s westerns created an entire generation of kids longing for the wide open spaces in those old films and I guess that’s why I can’t seem to get enough of the Texas plains and canyons.

BTW – The remake of the 1969 hit True Grit starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn is scheduled for release this December.

Monument

Monument – Silverton, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 40mm, f/16 for 1/50th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: Monument – Silverton, Texas

The Making of Camelot

Vision & VoiceIf you haven’t read David duChemin’s latest book Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom then you’re missing out on what’s possibly the best overall “guide” to using Adobe Lightroom ever written. Like all of David’s books, it’s written for photographers (right-brain) not computer geeks (left-brain).

If you want to explore the minutia of sharpening, color spaces, key-wording, bla, bla, bla then find another book. But if you want concrete examples from start to finish of how and (more importantly) why David processes his images, then buy this book now!

The Making of Camelot
I took this shot several weeks ago during a trip to the Texas panhandle. I had seen this Tule Canyon butte featured in Wyman Meinzer’s 2001 book Canyons of the Texas High Plains and was captivated by its resemblance to a medieval castle. I also wanted to find an image that I could use to practice some of David’s post-capture magic.

Step 1: Zeroed
Every few months I’ll get an email or comment asking me what my “raw” image looked like before I began “developing” it in Lightroom. I get this question a lot from folks that live up north where the sun doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it does here in Texas. The assumption is that I’ve somehow “cheated” to make the image look better than it did in real life.

Camelot (Zeroed)

So for those of you that “knew” I was cheating all along, here is the proof! A raw file exported to a JPEG using Lightroom 3’s “Zeroed” preset. No added contrast, vibrance, clarity, luminance, exposure, brightness, fill light, black point, blah, blah, blah. A dull, lifeless, underexposed raw file.

The only trouble is, this image doesn’t look anything like what I remember seeing.

Step 2: Normalized
So while David prefers to start out with a “zeroed” file, I most often begin with Lightroom 3’s default settings which include brightness & contrast as well as applying a medium contrast tone curve using whatever white balance you took the shot at.

Camelot (Default)

Now, this is much closer to what I remember.

Step 3: Camera Calibration
Strangely enough I now begin by working “up” the panels in Lightroom 3’s Develop Module. Nine times out of ten, I’ll use the “Camera Standard” (Canon 5D Mark II) profile for my landscape images because it tends to deepen the earth tones and adds contrast to the blue sky.

Camera Calibration

Camera Calibration in Lightroom 3

Step 4: Lens Corrections
Next I use the new Lens Corrections settings and check the Enable Profile Corrections box which fixes any barrel or pincushion distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting problems inherent in my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens. This is similar to what the well respected PTLens plugin from Tom Niemann does in Photoshop, although the effect in Lightroom 3 is more subtle.

Lens Corrections

Lens Corrections in Lightroom 3

Step 5: Basic Settings
My next step is to adjust the Basic settings such as White Balance (usually set for Daylight depending upon the image), Clarity (which adds some wonderful mid-tone contrast) and Vibrance (which is more subtle than adding saturation).

I generally adjust the White Balance to somewhere between 5000K and 5500K in Lightroom to make the images match what I remember seeing. This is a key step in creating the mood you want in the image.

Basic Settings

Basic Setting in Lightroom 3

At this point in my workflow, I’ll also adjust the Exposure, Recovery, Brightness and Contrast settings until I find the right exposure balance (lights and darks) and tone (color gradations) for the image. I may spend as little as ten minutes or as much as several hours trying different combinations until I achieve the look and feel I want.

Step 6: Tone Curve
Next I generally adjust the Tone Curve by setting the Point Curve to Medium Contrast which adds some much contrast to the entire image. Notice how I’ve set my “Shadows” slider to bring back some detail in the deep shadows on the right side of the butte.

Tone Curve

Tone Curve in Lightroom 3

Note: It’s important to remember Ansel Adams’ Zone System. To make a scene look realistic you need some bright whites and pure blacks in the shade, so a little “clipping” in the histogram is perfectly acceptable.

Step 7: Luminance
My final “tweaks” to the image are done by adjusting the Luminance settings. This is where my fine tuning is done to create drama in my images. I’ll generally reduce the Aqua and Blue color values to darken the sky and make the clouds stand out more. I’ll also increase the Green and Yellow luminance values to enhance the color of the foliage.

Note: I’ve found nothing in Lightroom 3 that works half as well as a circular polarizer does in the field to enhance contrast and add saturation to an image. Just something to think about.

Luminance

Luminance Settings in Lightroom 3

Small, incremental changes go a long way here, so I’m careful not to push things too far and end up with an image that looks unrealistic. I have enough trouble with folks that don’t live in Texas believing that our skies are actually this blue and our clouds this white.

Step 8: Repeat as Necessary
When using Lightroom’s Develop Module to create your personal VDW (Vision Driven Workflow) the Virtual Copy is your best friend. The undo history is a great feature but nothing beats creating a Virtual Copy at key points in your workflow. Once you’ve made these copies, you are free to experiment to your heart’s content with no fear of finding your way back from a creative dead-end in Lightroom.

The Results
I wanted to create an image that you might imagine seeing on a hot summer afternoon in jolly old England, looking up at the grandeur of Camelot. Let your mind wander and suspend your disbelief for a moment. Gaze up at the battlements atop the towers of the castle.

I can almost here Richard Harris singing . . .

Where once it never rained till after sundown,
By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown…
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

Now, this is how I remember the scene looking.

Camelot

Camelot – Silverton, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 22mm, f/16 for 1/25th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: Camelot – Silverton, Texas

You Really Do Need Photoshop CS5

I’m a lazy photographer and I’ll be the first to admit it. I’d much rather be out in the field shooting landscapes or even on location doing product shots for a client, than sitting in my office working in Lightroom or Photoshop. I used to enjoy working in the darkroom for hours on end, dodging and burning an enlargement to get it just right. But I just don’t get the same “thrill” from developing my raw files into something a client might like on my MacBook. Like I said, I’m lazy. That’s why I’m more than willing to shell out my hard earned cash for a piece of software like Adobe’s most recent version of Photoshop (CS5) with its content aware healing brush.

Take this shot below for example. As you ca see in the first image, there are two power lines running horizontally through the middle of the scene. I can remember looking at this scene back in June and wondering if I should even take the shot given my mediocre Photoshop skills. I couldn’t find any angle that hid the power lines but decided to shoot it anyway, with the hope that Photoshop’s new “content aware” healing brush might help me salvage this somehow.

Tule Canyon Butte No CS5

As you can see in the second image, the healing brush in Photoshop CS5 did what I once thought impossible. It erased the horizontal power lines with enough “content awareness” (can a computer program be aware?) that the image still looks “natural”, at least when printed or viewed at less than 100%. Obviously, no amount of “content awareness” will allow you to perfectly erase a horizontal line running through a scene like this, but the results are very impressive anyway.

Given the huge improvement of the Photoshop CS5’s healing brush over CS4, just think of what a few more years of “content aware” development may bring. I guess I’ll need to keep budgeting for those Photoshop upgrades every year or so, and I’m fairly certain that’s what Adobe is counting on.

Tule Canyon Butte

Tule Canyon Butte – Silverton, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 96mm, f/16 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: Tule Canyon Butte – Silverton, Texas

Texas Plains & Canyons

Here’s a little something to enjoy as the week winds down!

Texas Plains & Canyons
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Video created in Adobe Lightroom 3.