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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:


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.


Oklahoma Farmland pt. II

Another farmscape (yes I just made that term up) caught my eye last week and I got to catch it in some decent light.  Our state is awesome, I get to see this sort of thing daily on my way to work.  Once these farmers bail the hay, it’s usually gone within a day or two, so I was quick to get this picture:

I thought the BW worked well with the mood the sky and barn gave.




It’s exciting when photos happen by complete accident.  I was out shooting something that wasn’t coming together in the way I’d pictured at all.  Engine sounds kept roaring in the distance and I thought someone was doing some heavy-duty mowing.  Looking over, I saw a kid on a dirt bike 15 ft. in the air! Instantly, I decided it was a much stronger possibility for a photo than what I was trying to do:

Jumping into the Sunset

Turns out there were three of them riding and I swear when they saw me taking pictures they started getting even more air on their jumps.  Total show offs but hey, I can’t blame them, I was truly impressed!

It’s funny because my friend Tristan and I were just talking about how we missed the game Excitebike on Nintendo.  When I was taking this picture I totally felt like a kid playing the game once again – except with a little better graphics:

Oh memories.


Lightning Over the State Capitol – Final Edit

This is for anyone who might be interested in the technical side of photography.  My final edited version of the state capitol building looked something like this:

A few problems remain though.  The columns are not vertical, the horizontal part of the building bows out a little, and the building isn’t very sharp  The first two problems are the result of me looking up at the building while using an ultra wide-angle lens.  Sometimes these distortions are an advantage, especially when coming up with creative camera views, but I’m not sure the composition I chose benefits from these distortions (blame that on my lack of compositional skills with a wide angle lens – still a work in progress!)  

I ran the picture through a program called PT Lens and did adjustments for my camera, lens, and focal length, which corrected the bowing of the building.  I also adjusted the perspective so my columns were completely vertical all the way across, along with some other subtle color changes with my final image looking like this:

Notice how the top sides of the building are horizontal, with the columns vertical all the way across the image.  Really it’s a matter of being either technically correct or going with the artistic aspect of the distortion.  I prefer the straight columns but I’m sure there are others who would disagree.  For my third problem, I learned how to use layers which lets you focus on and edit one part of the picture, like the sky for instance.  Basically you save two copies of your photo and work on both simultaneously and merge them into one final layer.  In my original image there was a lot of color noise in the sky so I “de-noised” it while leaving the building alone.  As you can tell from the first image, the building was “de-noised” along with the sky so the building looks a little soft and not as sharp as should be.  In this last image, while using layers, I was able to achieve both my goals of getting rid of color noise in the sky, while keeping my building as sharp as possible. 

A bunch of technical jargon for those who might be interested.  The true mark of a talented photographer is getting everything right in camera so I’ve got a long way to go.  😉   This learning process has been really fun for me though!



Laguna Beach, CA

Every summer our family takes a week off for vacation and 99% of the time we go to Laguna Beach.  I’m more of the idea that vacations should be for going somewhere you’ve never been before, but with Laguna being as nice as it is, there’s really no complaining.  Here are a few pictures I wanted to share from the trip:

Mountains in the Mojave National Preserve

Overlooking Laguna Niguel

I really like the milky effect that long exposures put on water.

Meredith enjoying the view


We got to see the Dodgers play the Angels while we were here and it was pretty sweet.  My sister and I got $5 each to go up to the very top of the stadium.  We were sitting on the complete opposite side.  It was worth it though, we turned the money into some delish ice cream cookies.  We deserved it.  As a side note, for you perfectionists out there, I actually flipped the original picture to make everything go left to right.  More natural feeling, but the scoreboard text is now backwards.  Maybe someday I’ll learn how to fix that. 😉

Dusk at the Ritz - 4 min. exposure

The white lines in the sky are stars.  When you expose for this amount of time, you start to track their movement throughout the sky!

Mom and Meredith (this is my favorite shirt of Mer's)

Annual Laguna Beach family picture!

Cadillac Farm - Amarillo, TX

This place in Amarillo was a little creepy.  Ten cars, the front halves buried in the ground, right by the side of the highway and people just come and spray paint on them every day.

That’s it!  Thanks for checking in.


Lightning Over the State Capitol

lightning over the state capitol 40 sec. exposure

I was pretty pumped to get my first lightning picture and couldn’t have asked for a cooler place to get it!  Set my tripod up and did a 30 sec. exposure and got extremely lucky!