Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flippers and Whiskers

Flippers and Whiskers by right2roam
Flippers and Whiskers, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.
Does anyone else smell that? If you've ever been up close and personal with a sea lion colony, you probably know the dizzying... ummm... aroma that I'm talking about. But then the sea lions probably think the same thing about smelly human photographers.

On today's agenda... a trip to the zoo. It appears that my bucket list African Safari vacation is becoming reality. South Africa's Kruger National Park is expecting me, so time to practice turning my lenses toward God's creatures.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 510 mm
Aperature: f/10
Exposure: 1/200 sec
ISO 320

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Church at Icklingham

The Church at Icklingham by right2roam
The Church at Icklingham, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.
At the heart of the ancient kingdom of East Anglia lies Icklingham's rustic All Saints Church. At first glance this small medieval stone church with a thatched roof doesn't appear like much, but if you're ever passing by on the A1101, stop and take a closer look. The church's stonework dates as far back as the 12th century, and the location on a low hilltop suggests that it was a choice worship site for much longer, perhaps since the early days of Saxon Christianity. If you're fortunate enough to stop in while its doors are open, you'll find pews that were carved in the 15th century and East Anglia's largest expanse of medieval tilework. The church has fallen out of use and is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Since moving to England I've had to focus my lenses on a different kind of beauty. Eastern England may not offer the dramatic seascapes or rugged and wild mountains that I'd fallen in love with. But a change of perspective is once again teaching me how to take a closer look and capture the more cultivated and subdued beauty of gardens, agricultural lands, and centuries-old villages.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 16 mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 1/5 second
ISO 100

Sunday, June 17, 2012


#4 by right2roam
#4, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

Nature slowly overtakes an abandoned bunker at Fort Ord Dunes State Park.

I debated whether or not to post this one as it seems to clash with the rest of my photography. Or does it? So much nature photography is composed and cropped and edited to show the world at its most beautiful, in its unspoiled and pristine state. Here is a haunting example of scars left on Mother Nature's skin, and a promising glimpse of nature in the healing process.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park has a four-mile stretch of shoreline with beautiful views of Monterey Bay. It was once a U.S. Army training center for beach combat, giving critical training to hundreds of thousands of soldiers for actions in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Through a Federal Lands to Parks transfer, the dunes and beach opened to the public in 2009. Clean-up and conservation efforts continue today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Wastwater, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

About 10 years ago I had the chance to visit England's Lake District where I took a few grainy, washed-out shots of Wastwater from nearly this very spot with an old Fujica film SLR. Nearly a decade later my wonderful girlfriend says to me "I say we do it. Let's take that trip to the Lake District"... and on a whim we were there.

No matter how advanced photographic equipment and software become, there's really no replacement for the privilege of visiting God's Country in person. A photo doesn't truly capture the bite of the wind, or the play of light on the water, or the shortness of breath as you scramble to the top of a mountain, and that feeling of being so insignificant in the vastness of creation.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 29 mm
Aperature: f/22
Exposure: 1/4 second
ISO 50

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dark Skies and Darker Seas

Dark Skies and Darker Seas by right2roam
Dark Skies and Darker Seas, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

This shot was taken a little over a year ago at the tail end of one of many storms that enthralled me during my stay on California's Central Coast. I'm off to try my luck on England's North Sea Coast. Wish me luck!

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 19 mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 2 seconds
ISO 100

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Monolith

The Monolith by right2roam
The Monolith, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

I think I'm finally getting close to the end of my California backlog and a few newly made photos are on the way soon. I had seen a number of impressive shots of this jagged seastack in full, vibrant color and wondered why with such interesting textures in the surrounding rocks, more photographers don't try to render in monochrome. So one day between storm cells there I was, up to my knees in the Pacific testing my gut feeling about this location. Here's one of my favorite takeaways from the shoot. I hope you enjoy.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 20 mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 2.5 seconds
ISO 50

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Feeding Time

Feeding Time
Feeding Time, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

I can't believe this day was already almost 7 years ago! I can still remember the sounds and smells of this crisp early morning as I paddled around my favorite lake with a newly purchased 20D. I was having so much fun and was absolutely thrilled by the quality of shots I was getting with my first DSLR. If I wasn't hooked on nature photography before, this day sealed the deal.

Thanks Mom... for all of your care, wisdom, patience, encouragement, and prayer.

Canon EOS 20D
Focal Length: 300 mm
Aperature: f/5.6
Exposure: 1/500 second
ISO 200

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Fringe

The Fringe by right2roam
The Fringe, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

Here's to cup of coffee #2 on a rainy Sunday morning.

Taken on the South Shore of Point Lobos, just south of Monterey California, with barely a glimmer of light on the horizon. I had written off this experiment as a complete loss, but for some reason didn't delete. In the original file the bright sky overpowers a too-dark foreground, and this long of an exposure at such high ISO resulted in some unappealing pixelated areas. The editing process was too drastic for my usual taste, but I think the experiment was worth a try. I made extensive use of noise reduction filters and blended layers trying to smoothly balance the sky with recoverable details in the foreground. I don't often indulge in such hedonistic photo editing, but something about this frame just screamed "dodge me, burn me". What are your impressions?

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 23 mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 30 seconds
ISO 400

Friday, April 27, 2012

Egret and Natural Arch

Egret and Natural Arch by right2roam
Egret and Natural Arch, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

A popular location revisited. Here's my favorite take from the famous natural arch at Santa Cruz.
Snowy Egrets can often be seen in Winter wading along the shores and tidal flats of Monterey Bay.

The day I posted this to Flickr I showed it off to a few colleagues and got some interesting feedback. Several thought that this was a composite image, that I had added the egret in Photoshop. I'm not a huge fan of HDR, and the only time I combine images is when stitching together panoramas. This is a single shot, only subtly processed in Photoshop using two blended layers. I used one layer to bring out some detail in the water, another layer to slightly brighten the sky and recover some cloud detail.
I must have 20 shots of this scene, with egrets and without. There were half a dozen birds striding through the shallow waves as the sunset faded into twilight. This is the only frame where an egret stood still long enough for me to capture the movement of the water flowing around its feet.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 55 mm
Aperature: f/22
Exposure: 1.6 seconds
ISO 50

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Great Blue Heron at Elkhorn Slough

Enough landscapes for now, right? How long has it been since I posted any wildlife photos?

Earlier that morning I was down on the tidal flats at Elkhorn Slough photographing shore waders in some amazing early morning light. I decided to make my way back to the car along a different path that takes you through an area of tall grasses. That's where I found this guy.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 500 mm
Aperature: f/11
Exposure: 1/500 second
ISO 320

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Soul of the Pacific

The Soul of the Pacific by right2roam
The Soul of the Pacific, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

As eyes are windows to the soul, looking through this natural arch is like peering into the churning depths of the Pacific.

This weekend I was playing host to my friends Annie and Ori, who convinced me to take a break from my studies and make the jaunt down to Big Sur with them. If you've never had the pleasure of cruising down California's Highway 1, be sure to add it to your list of things to do before...

I'd been down that road dozens of times, but they were right to twist my arm and tease me about taking my homework a little too seriously that day. The weather was fantastic and this time of year the Santa Lucia Range bathes in a softer glowing sunshine than during the more intense Summer months. And a day shared with friends at the edge of the Western World should never be missed.

Post processing of this image was minimal. I set up two blended layers, one to bring out details in the overly dark foreground, the other to increase contrast and vibrance in the sky.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 22mm
Aperature: f/17
Exposure: 1/2 second
ISO 50

You may also enjoy revisitng this photo, timed for the effect this arch famous for.

Fireworks at Pfeiffer

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

This will be the last post from my Iceland trip last December. Normally I'm pretty decisive when it comes to processing and sharing the color or black and white versions of my photos, but this one gave me a little trouble. In the color version I find an appealing softness and subtlety in the tones while the black and white version has a nice level of contrast and plays more on highlights, shadows, and texture. What do you think?

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon B&W

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crystal Twilight

Crystal Twilight by right2roam
Crystal Twilight, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

On the beach at the mouth of the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in southern Iceland you can find a large number of icebergs stranded on the volcanic black sand. In Winter at this latitude the sun barely peeks above the horizon, then just hovers for a few hours providing a lingering period of light with an almost magical quality. Then the light slowly dwindles into an ethereal twilight, and if you're lucky will give way to the ghostly glow of Aurora.

This photo was simple enough to capture... just my handheld G10 at ISO 400. Yes, I had my SLR and tripod with me on this trip and certainly would have prefered the better equipment. I had spent the two previous hours working the icebergs at the other end of the glacial lagoon. This was my first real test of photographic equipment in cold weather. And its very true, lithium ion batteries just don't hold their charge in the cold.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jökulsárlón Blue

Jökulsárlón Blue by right2roam
Jökulsárlón Blue, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

I was on the hunt...

... for Northern Lights. Jokulsarlon is the largest and probably best known of a number of glacial lakes in Iceland. Not the easiest Winter destination to make; at several points along the Ring Road, strong winds gusting down from Vatnajokull nearly blew my tiny rented 4x4 off the icy roads. In making the drive I had hoped to try my hand at adding to the already large collection of iconic shots featuring the eerie green glow of the Northern Lights reflecting off of this lagoon's frigid water between icebergs. With only one day and evening to photograph the area, I got a few presentable images, but only saw a faint glimmer of Aurora Borealis. Now having seen the lagoon in the dead of Winter, and having done a little more research on Aurora patterns, I would advise making this trip in Autumn or Spring when the road conditions are better and the lake isn't so choked with ice. If I'm so fortunate to be able to make this trip to chase the Northern Lights again, I would go this Fall with more time on my hands. Read why here...
I would also keep an eye on this website which could help increase chances of being at the right place at the right time to make some breathtaking images.

And just for fun, check out this video taken from the International Space Station.
Absolutely amazing!

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 105mm
Aperature: f/13
Exposure: 1/6 second
ISO 125