405 Living

Landscape Photography

Lake Hefner





Here are a couple of pictures I took while out at Lake Hefner recently.  The first was with a Nikon 55-200mm zoom lens.  I was pretty zoomed in on this one, maybe even all the way.  It’s great to have a lens with VR as it prevents the shake from a hand held camera while zoomed in.  It really does work:



A shot of the lighthouse at Hefner super close up with an ultra wide angle lens.  I was almost touching the lighthouse when I shot this.  Ultra wide angle lenses let you get really close and you can sometimes pull of some cool views:



Wow, it’s been awhile!  I wouldn’t know where to start on excuses for not posting pictures in such a long time.  I guess the main reason being busyness but also I lost a lot of photographic inspiration during the winter.  Not much to take pictures of when everything is dead in a flat place like OKC, at least for newbies like me. I’m really just trying to get back into the practice of having a photographic eye, which can be really tough to do.

This was taken from the balcony of the room Zane, Hayley, and I stayed in the Hotel Colorado in the President’s Suite.  According to Zane, the room we stayed in was the one Theodore Roosevelt used to always stay at when he vacationed here.  This was an awesome birthday present from the both of them:

One of the staircases at the hotel.  The hotel reminded me of “The Shining”:

These are a few pictures I took while in San Diego with Hayley’s family.  We got to drive over to La Jolla, which I highly recommend doing if you ever get the chance.  The picture below is using a technique called the Orton Effect, which gives the photograph a “painterly” feel.

the sunset on the beach was beautiful. I liked how the rocks where all facing the same direction, also green is my favorite color to photograph. If I had my filters, I would have stacked them and made this like a 5 sec. shot to smooth out the water, but alas they were stolen:

Couldn’t resist taking a picture of this beauty:

The Alpha male of the group:



New York/Delaware/D.C.

Hayley and I just got back from a trip we took visiting Lindsay, Dustin, Ethan, and Elliot.  Initially, the thought was we would go to New York, quickly see some of the sites, and then move on to Delaware where her sister’s family is located.  What a surprise it was for us when we found out we were also getting to spend a night in D.C. with Lindsay, Dustin, and the boys!  Of course, I brought my camera and it was by my side the entire time.  Here are some of the pictures from the trip:

I was lucky to have Hayley as my beautiful photog. model for the trip.  One of MANY snaps taken as the subway was passing by, the flag and reflection were sheer luck:

I snapped this while he was waiting to cross the street.  If you haven’t been to Times Square, let me be the 5 millionth person to tell you it’s amazing:

City Never Sleeps

On top of 30 rock, facing the Empire State Building:


Hayley and another American flag.  There’s a connection there.  She’s an American.  I talked her into posing while the people passed by at the busy station.  I don’t know if the couple leaning on each other in the background was trying to get in on the action, but I thought it turned out pretty cool.  One second exposure is what got the blurred movement for everyone else:

Passing By

This may just look like a snapshot to everyone, and maybe it is, but this was super difficult to acheive! (just ask Blake and Elyse).  I didn’t have my tripod with me so my camera was resting on a building ledge, remote shutter.  This couldn’t be taken with a normal flash as the city in the background would be washed out.  I had to set it to rear flash to capture the city in a long exposure and then the camera would fire the flash for the foreground after.  Basically, it was a long exposure and everyone had to stand really still for like 15 sec.

Honeymoon Crashing

Yes, that’s the camera remote in my hand.  What of it?:

NYC Panorama.  My first try at a pan:



Possibly the biggest bubble I’ve ever seen…oh and I’ve seen some bubbles!:


Here’s me, trying to avoid holding a camera at the normal height for taking pictures because it’s usually not the best point of view.  For this shot, I actually set my camera on the ground, focused on the leaves, and set the camera to F4 for a super fast exposure, as I was wanting to blur everything but the foreground:

Central Park

Maybe…no probably…no definitely the cutest little guy ever:


Arlington National Cemetery is an absolute must see:

Section 33

Not only was the feeling of the place one to remember, we also got unbelievable fall colors to go along with it.  I really loved this place:

On the ground once again, as I didn’t have my tripod.  This took about 20 shots to achieve.  The end result is still technically underexposed but I like it that way.  I got some pretty weird looks from people walking by as all 6’4″ of me was sprawled out on my stomach trying to get this picture to work:

Lincoln Memorial Reflection

This picture doesn’t do it justice.  You can tell from the picture above how big the statue is compared to the people walking up to it.  This picture was really underexposed but I did it on purpose because I wanted everything dark except Abe.  I used photoshop to dodge the statue and words while burning the corners to try and make the whole thing stand out:

Honest Abe

World War II memorial:

Well, that’s that.  We had an absolute blast and I’m extremely thankful that Dustin and Lindsay allowed us the visit while making us feel really special by planning a visit to D.C. for all of us.  Hopefully we’ll get to go back again someday and spend more time in both NY and DC as they are both amazing places to visit.


The Orton Effect

Thanks to one of my favorite landscape photographers, Darwin Wiggett, I’ve learned a new concept called “The Orton Effect”, which is a method used for creating photographs with a “painterly” feel to them. I re-edited a couple photos from California last summer that I felt would benefit greatly from this method:

Both of these shots were right behind the hotel we were staying at. 🙂 We were really roughing it:

This Next shot is one of my favorite beaches in Cali:

I’m really excited to use this technique once the fall colors start hitting the trees. Could definitely make for some interesting stuff! If you are a photographer, be sure and check out the link I included to “The Orton Effect” as I truly believe this opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for photography.



I’m really pleased to announce that my Oklahoma State Capitol picture has been published on www.1x.com.  This is a site I’ve been frequenting quite a bit these past few months as my interest in photography has grown.  I originally heard about the site from Ken Rockwell and it’s intrigued me ever since.  This is an online art gallery for talented photographers around the world to try and submit their best works.  Only a fraction of pictures sent in are published on the front page.  They go through an intense screening process and are also voted on by the members.  About 500 photos a day are submitted and of those, about 5 actually get published.  The traffic on 1x is really amazing.  My picture has been published for a day and a half and has already received nearly 17,000 unique views!  I’m really excited about this and I hope to get more published eventually.

Click here to check out the Oklahoma Capitol Building on 1x.



Oklahoma “Storms”

Re-worked a previous picture taken awhile back at Lake Hefner.  Messing with “duotone” in Photoshop lately.  Pretty neat tool that gives you unlimited options vs. straight black/white.  You pick any two colors and mesh them together using curves.  In this particular picture I used black and a light muddy green color.  I thought the “duotone” colors set  a pretty eery mood.   This was actually taken on a sunny evening but these dark clouds seemed to be circling overhead, creating the look of a storm.   


Rocky Mountain National Park

My dad, brothers, and I took a long weekend trip into the Rocky Mtn. National Park last week.  We entered through Estes Park, which brought back memories of performing as a band for the GMA Music in the Rockies festival a few years back.  That was probably one of the most exciting times in my life when all of us (Justin, Jason, Matt, and I)  had no idea what the future had in store.  Heading back there, I didn’t know what kind of feelings I’d have with those memories being stirred up inside me.  With my life a little more structured I wasn’t sure if it would be a totally positive experience.

Toward the end of the trip we came into contact with three guys who were our rafting guides down the Arkansas River.  One of them was the complete definition of a vagabond.  This guy sleeps in the bed of his truck most nights under the stars in Colorado.  He’s making his way out in the next few months (doesn’t know exactly when) and heading towards San Francisco.  I say “heading towards” because he doesn’t know when he’ll get there.  He has no specific time frame.  Just taking his time, stopping by places that he’s never been like Yosemite National Park, Redwood Forest, etc. and will eventually end up in San Francisco.  Doesn’t have a job lined out or anything.  Just says he will find a job waiting tables and after he’s done there, he’ll eventually make his way back to Colorado.

I’m not gonna lie I was a little envious of him.  More so the idea of being in that sort of circumstance again and being ok with not having things planned out.  For those of you who know me, you know I get really passionate about the things I involve myself with, whether it’s relationships, music, politics, photography, etc.  My dream job would involve doing landscape photography.  Although those guys get to spend weeks at specific locations waiting for perfect conditions, I’ve got to make due with the conditions around me in a short period of time.  Maybe someday I will have the that luxury though.   I have no particular plan on how to make it happen, nor do I have any certainty that it ever will happen, but I do have a camera and a learning mind and I love putting these things to good use, striving to become more knowledgeable and more creative.

With all that being said, I hope you enjoy these pictures.  I really enjoyed my time in Estes Park, R.M.N.P., and greater Colorado and It’s lessons to live my life with a good balance of uncertainty and wisdom.  Being with this vagabond helped bring out the younger version of myself and the knowledge that I need to embrace unpredictability in my life, but also with a sort of balance that experience brings.  Finding the healthy tension between these will be a life long goal of mine, I’m sure of it.


4 sec. exposure

For any who may have seen the earlier version of this next picture on fb/twitter, that was the picture straight out of camera.  Here is the final edited version:

Sunrise at Sprague Lake

BW + Landscape version of the 1st waterfall:

6 sec. exposure

This next picture was taken right as night was falling and a storm was approaching.  You can’t see it but there was a herd of Elk swimming in the lake and drinking the water.  It was unbelievable.  One of the most peaceful moments I’ve experienced in quite some time:

Storm at Sprague Lake 60 sec. exposure

This next shot took 3 stacked filters for about 10 f stops of light loss to pull off.  With that much light loss, it’s basically night time to the camera’s lens, which allows you to do a longer exposure during the daytime.  It also saturates colors like crazy, as the sunlight moves across the picture. I actually had to reduce some of the color in this image to make it look real.  The movement in the clouds and grass caused some motion blur, which I tend to like, and of course, the reason for the long exposure was to get the smooth running water:

15 sec. exposure stacked with all kinds of filters 😉

It took me over an hour to get the next shot.  One of my favorite landscape photographers is David Muench.  He has a strategy when photographing mountains to wait until the sun is only hitting the top 3rd of the peak.  It makes for some really cool soft lighting on the mountain.  People were all over the place, but fortunately they left just about the time the lighting was getting good.  I wish I could have gotten stiller water for a clearer reflection, but I’ll take what I can get.  The rocks and logs in the foreground were visible because of the polarizer I used, which cuts through the water’s reflection.  Polarizers are awesome!  They are very useful in situations like these for landscapes. This was definitely my favorite shot of the trip:

Sunset/Moonrise Over Bear Lake

My poor attempt at an Ansel Adams esq. BW landscape.  I liked how the shadows mimicked the tree line on the upper left side of the mountain:

Moonrise Over Bear Lake

This next one at Emerald reminded me of Lord of the Rings for some odd reason.  I think it was the jagged peaks in the background.  Fortunately, the all seeing eye was nowhere to be found.  P.S. if you ever get the chance to hike to this lake, do it!  It’s amazing:

Emerald Lake

Stacked with filters again:

I believe this was a 10 sec. exposure

Conner eventually got in trouble for this, but who could resist.  The little guy was hungry!

Up before dawn to hike and catch the sunrise over the Park:

One more sunrise at Sprague Lake

BW Portrait of Emerald Lake:

I liked the shadows, shapes, and colors of this next one.  More of an abstract idea:

25 sec. exposure

Another abstract idea:

created by a 1/8 sec. exposure with vertical tilt of camera

That’s it for Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope I get to visit Colorado again soon.  My life is better every time I do.