A photo essay of one of the most amazing geological sights I've ever seen: the amazing Painted Hills in Central Oregon. The hills aren't large by any stretch, but their delicate folds and amazing reds and yellows make amazing shapes in the light. I was there mid-afternoon in December, so the low light created some lively defining shadows on the hillsides. I chose to zoom in a lot for abstract details, focusing on shape and form rather than an overall view. In many of the shots, animal tracks can be seen which gives some idea of scale.
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Whenever I fly, I try to get the window seat. I just love seeing the world go by, reduced to the size of a map far, far below me. And if I have a camera with me, then things are even better, because I love to take photos of the amazing sights I see. Here's a few tips that I've picked up that might help out, followed by a number of sample images after the jump.
1. Seats in front of the wing are best for unobstructed viewing. Next best are seats at the back of the plane. The closer to the wing you get from the back, the more likely you are to have jet exhaust distort your image.
2. Have your camera handy at all times. Stash your camera bag under the seat in front of you before take off, or put your camera on your lap before take off, hidden under a jacket or similar. On larger flights, you can get away with taking photos almost directly after take off, simply because the hostesses can't see you from their jump seats.
3. If your camera beeps on acquiring focus, TURN THE BEEP OFF. It's ...
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I tried my hand at this for the first time last week. I've done quite a few star trail shots before, where you leave the shutter open for an extended time and get beautiful long streaks across the sky, but star field photography is a different beast altogether. You have to get as much light as you can onto the sensor in as little time as possible, so as to PREVENT the stars streaking. Even with a wide angle lens, this is 30 seconds or less!
So, against all my usual instincts, you have to crank the ISO right up and open the aperture as wide as you can. The sample shot below - my best from the night - is ƒ/3.6, ISO 3200 for 15 seconds and STILL probably wasn't quite bright enough. The rule of thumb is to try and get a histogram that reaches 1/3rd of the way across, and I didn't quite get there. Some fiddling in post-production still produced a pretty decent image, however.
Still, the amazingly clear Oregon sky near Mount Hood allowed me to see the beautiful Milky Way with astounding cl ...
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Commenting on one of my photos, "Metropolis" (http://500px.com/photo/878188), Zeb Andrews (a GREAT photographer and teacher whom you should all follow) suggested an alternate crop: a long and narrow portrait format that eliminates the surrounding buildings and accentuates the vertical form of the Empire State Building. As you can see below, his suggestion does make a very compelling image that is very different from the original.
However, this got me thinking about how I consider crops when taking photos, and I came to the conclusion that I almost always compose a shot according to what I see through the viewfinder. For me, there's something special about "seeing" a composition in real life, framing it through the camera and then have it come out as I imagined it. I very rarely crop an image to different dimensions: almost all of my cropping is to straighten a horizon or similar - very minor stuff. If I want a different composition, then I'll look for it through the lens, changing pos ...
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