Friday, July 31, 2009

Interior Real Estate HDR

Took the class to a golf course model home this afternoon to shoot HDR. Tremendous opportunity to learn high dynamic range shooting in a controlled environment.

The attached kitchen shot is a merge of six exposures. The total dynamic range of the scene was about 12 stops (we learned to measure dynamic range today using our camera's spot meters and manual shooting mode.)

After the real estate shooting we headed down to an incredible beach for some sunset shooting. HDR and slow shutter speed work kept us busy for a couple hours. I won't lie, I like shooting after sunset in Los Osos and Morro Bay but... Shooting here where the water is 75 degrees with 80 degree air temps is incredible.
Fiat Lux!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

At the Bamboo Forest in Maui

Hanging out on top of waterfall number one in the Bamboo Forest of Maui. Unbelievable location, tough sitting as still as possible for 15".
I set up the shot with a Canon 5D Mk II, Ef 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55, and Singh Ray neutral density filters (5 stops.) Ended up with a 15" shutter speed to blur the waterfall. I shot a few tests, hiked to the top, and had Victoria shoot.
Beautiful out here.
Just booked Maui again in January 2010. Shooting and workflow (mostly shooting.) More details online soonest.
Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video from Hawaii

Too bad I didn't get a second take.


Fiat Lux!


Hal at Momma's Fish House Beach

Victoria shot me yesterday while I was in the middle of the pano process.
Just booked a shooting and workflow course at Insititute of Visual Arts next year. We'll have dates out in the next day or two.
The images we are getting here are amazing. We're out shooting so much there is almost no time to execute the after capture workflow.
Shot for over four hours this morning. Downloaded while searing a beautiful Ahi tuni steak. A little review while enjoying the seared/very rare tuna and some beautiful, spicy wasabi.
We just had a great random trivia discussion after Victoria wondered why there were so many "Christmas" trees all over Maui. She's seeing the huge Norfolk Island pines. Very cool tree and loved by some of the early Pacific explorers since the trees grow so straight. The trunks were used to replace the masts of their ships when needed on long voyages. Always fun to throw out the cool, random trivia.
Back out to the Bamboo Forest for more shooting soonest.
More when we can.
Fiat Lux!

Gallery Blog

The blog of Randy Jay Braun's gallery. We visited earlier today and had a great time. Thanks again, Rachel.

Quick Hokapali Beach Shot

A long exposure shot at about 2 PM this afternoon. Stopped down to f/22, ISO 50, and 5 stops of a Singh Ray Neutral Density filter. Combination of 4 shots to get the red wind surfer trails.
Blew out a small portion of the surf. Good thing I can do it again tomorrow!
Fiat Lux!

Shooting for the Fun of It in Maui

4 shot HDR - 11-stop range required more than my normal 3 shots
Canon EOS 5D, EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, Induro C213, and RRS Bh-55
Processed with Lightroom, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CS4

Traveled around some of the island today. We stopped into the Randy Jay Braun gallery and shot a few shots both from the outside and looking outside. Great work inside. Most everything is available on gallery wrapped canvas and conventional media either framed or unframed. Thanks to Rachel for showing us some incredible hospitality.
I have about 600 other shots from today. We shot waves, windsurfers, incredible "God" rays, and more. Need another 6-10 hours per day to complete my workflow.
Everyone else is in the jacuzzi with the Veuve. Time to socialize.
Up early tomorrow to shoot sunrise down at the beach.
Good living.

Monday, July 27, 2009

LIGHT is on the road. Hal is taking the HDR show to Institute of Visual Arts Maui this week. Monday is a travel day then let the shooting begin!
We feel honored to have Hal as the Artist of the Month at
Check it out!

Fiat Lux!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just Another Antique Rusty Truck

3 shot HDR
Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55
Photomatix Pro and Adobe Photoshop CS4
Turns out, I like shooting old trucks. Ben Willmore introduced the subject matter to me here about 18 months ago and I still find it very interesting. I find a lot of folks these days rail against HDR in general and HDR of old, rusty things takes a beating most of all.
The above image is a 3 shot HDR. Processed in Photomatix Pro 3.2 and then worked in Photoshop CS4. I will have a video up later this weekend showing the Photoshop work I do after the tone mapping process is finished.
Off to the winery for some tasting and shooting.
Fiat Lux!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Breakfast for a New Generation

Canon EOS 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, 580 EX II, Induro C313, RRS BH-55

One of my favorite shots from yesterday's shoot. We shot over 500 images documenting and showing a huge collection of gear, souvenirs, history, and promotion from Supertramp's 1979 Breakfast in America album.
Shot most everything yesterday with only 3 Canon 580 EX II Speedlights, very versatile pieces of gear.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


All images with Canon 1D Mk III, EF 70-200mm f/4L, hand held
Learn the Basics/Fundamentals of Your DSL this weekend. We shot yesterday afternoon in Morro Bay. As the tide came in, hundreds of jelly fish started to float by. The class was out on a small pier working the Manual mode. We turned our attention to the water below and shot a few of the jellies.

The top and middle images show a single jellyfish and the green/black swirls are reflections on the surface of the water. To optimize the images, I worked a little in Adobe Camera Raw 5.4 and then sent the images to Photoshop. Shooting into the water which was heavily laden with particulates necessitated a quick Dust and Scratches filter to clean up the water.

I added another layer and ran the Topaz Adjust plug-in ( to add a little depth, contrast, and a hint of saturation. Back in Photoshop proper I changed the Topaz layer blend mode to Soft Light and then ran a little High Radius Low Amount sharpening to add shape and form.

I finally decided to do a little more clean up with the Spot Healing Brush.

On the bottom image, I simply launched the Filter Gallery to see if anything looked fun. I ended up using the Plastic Wrap filter and then reducing the layer opacity. Playing in PS never hurt anyone (as long as it was non-destructive.)

Fiat Lux!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thank You Hanson for a Killer Class!

Thank you Hanson for such a great week here at LIGHT. We had a tremendous time and learned so much.
Fiat Lux!

Morro Bay, California Fog/Moody

7 Shot stitched panorama
Canon EOS 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4L, hand-held
Stitched and optimized in Adobe Photoshop CS4
Took a friend out shooting yesterday during the class dinner break. We weren't blessed with the best light for shooting birds but the moody feel made for some good panos and landscape.
As you know I shoot panorama all the time but my friend from Michigan had never shot one. We had a quick five minute tutorial and then shot the segments. Our tripods were in the car so we broke some of the rules and shot hand held. We can overcome the problems of hand held by following a couple rules.
-Use a telephoto lens. There are normally fewer parallax problems with telephoto so not as much need to sweat the entrance pupil location.
-Keep the shutter speed fast enough. The basic rule of thumb is to shoot with a shutter speed equal to or faster than 1/focal length (we shot at @100mm so our shutter speeds were at least faster than 1/100.
-Shoot horizontal panoramas with a vertical/portrait camera orientation and vice versa
-Shoot with sufficient overlap. 30% for telephoto and 50% for wide angle
Once we returned to the lab, we stitched the segments together in Adobe Photoshop CS4. He had never done this before either but it is very easy. Following the above guidelines, you will have nice source material and everything will stitch easily.
We optimized the image and then printed a 16 x 44 for him to take home on one of our Canon ipf5100 printers.
Fiat Lux!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Big Change of Subject - No HDR Today

Canon EOS 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55
Bouquet from Los Osos Flower Market
Yesterday we shot with Hanson Fong at the Mission church in San Luis Obispo. During one of the sessions when the class focused on the "groom" our "bride" was resting. Perfect opportunity to grab a shot of the bouquet.

Thanks to everyone who made yesterday happen. A special mention for Los Osos Flower market ( for providing a spectacular bouquet.

Fiat Lux!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Sammon Swirl - Thanks Rick!

Took the image above using the "Sammon Swirl." Rick Sammon,, spent last week with us here in California and taught this fun technique. If you have not attended a seminar or workshop with Rick, you are missing out!
Took me a bit of practice to get the technique down but once you have it you will have fun.

To try this yourself set up your camera as follows:
-Select the center auto focus point
-One shot focus
-Continuous shooting mode (I like continuous High)
-Set the ISO to 100 for Canon and 200 for Nikon. Adjust ISO if necessary to meet exposure requirements
-Set the shuter speed to between 1/15 and 1/8
-Adjust the aperture to your desired exposure
-If you prefer, you may set Shutter Priority or Tv mode and set the shutter speeds above, the camera will then adjust the aperture automatically
-The technique also works great with a point and shoot!

Compose your shot by placing the subject in the middle and focus on the leading eye (if your subject has an eye, that is.) When you are ready, pull your eye away from the viewfinder with focus locked (keep holding the Af On button.) Begin to rotate the camera around the longitudinal axis of the lens (a straight line from the middle of the lens' outer element to the sensor.) Just after you start to rotate, shoot and hold down the shutter release for a burst of 3-4 shots. The camera will travel about 90 degrees during the maneuver.

Evaluate your shots on the LCD and try again if necessary.

I always shoot a burst so I have multiple source files. If I like the swirl in one and the subject in another, you can combine the two for the best of both worlds.
Thanks again Rick for sharing this fun technique.
Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Playing is Good for the Creative Process

I was playing with a beach sunset shot earlier today and decided to see what I could create from a relatively simple photo. The image above is the result. Not spectacular or earth shaking but it was a fun process. Every now and again I find it helpful to just play with an image and see where it takes you.

The sunset here was the starting point. I decided to try some mirror imaging and the result is shown below.

I duplicated the layer and ran a little swirl with the Liquify filter. I think it is always interesting to play around with Layer blend modes and decided on Linear Burn for the Swirl Layer. Playing even more, I copied the Swirl layer and looked at the blend modes again. Finally deciding on Overlay for the Swirl Copy Layer.

I ultimately flattened these layers and duplicated the result one more time. To the Radial Blur Layer I tried out a Radial Blur filter set to Zoom. Just like above I played around with blend modes to see what looked the most interesting ultimately choosing Lighter Color.

To complete the experiment, I brushed in a little text. Before I could do that I created a custom brush using the word "Light." After modifying the new brush's Shape Dynamics, Scattering, and Color Dynamics I once again modified the blend mode ending up with Lighter Color. After a quick Layer Mask I decided to have some lunch.

I'll show the custom brush creation on a later blog post.

Cheers and have fun playing around it's good for you and your photography.

Fiat Lux!


Caption Ideas?

Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55
I took this shot last week and am looking for a good caption. The expression can be interpreted multiple ways. Thoughts?

Here in class Day Two of Hanson Fong. We're having a good time this morning discussing flash. As Hanson stated a few moments ago "Raise the roof! Hanson in the house!"

After this morning's lesson we will shoot a family of five here in the studio. We have the ProFoto lights courtesy of MAC Group dialed in. With Hanson's direction there will be some incredible portraits.

Later today we will shoot a tri-generational family portrait up in the Paso Robles wine country.

Once again, good living here at LIGHT.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Photomatix Version

Photomatix Pro version 3.2 is out today.

This is a tremendous upgrade. Any questions on the new features, shoot me an email at

Download the update at

If you have not already purchased the program use the discount code LeppInstitute07 for a 15% discount. OBTW, we recommend only the standalone version (no need for the plug in.)



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Morro Bay After Dark

Morro Rock 1.5 hours after sunset
Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm 2.8L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55
30" f/2.8 ISO 400
We shot horses again last night on the beach just north of Morro Rock. After the action (I'll try to post some of those later) we worked some slower shutter speed shots.

Once you start shooting after sunset, you will absolutely love it. Too many photographers pack up and leave immediately after the sun sets. Some of the best shots occur up to an hour and a half after sunset!

I like to combine my low light shooting with longer shutter speeds. This allows me to not only keep the ISO as low as possible (which really helps with the noise) but also to play with blur.

Morro Rock and Reflection
Canon 5D Mk II and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, RRS BH-55
20" f/22 ISO 50

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Fun Morning

2 shot stitched panorama
Canon 5D Mk II and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
f/16 3/10" ISO 100
ACR 5.4 Vibrance +20
Living on the Central Coast of California does not suck.
We travelled to Black Hill in Morro Bay hoping to shoot a sunrise. Interestingly, as we drove to the hill in the fog, expectations were not high. By the time we arrived at the top of our ten minute hike, we were still in the fog and decided to wait it out. Five minutes later we started to watch a spot clear directly in line with the rising sun. For the next fifty minutes we were in and out of the fog as wave after wave came over us. Finally, the fog settled in the valleys about 250' below us and we shot for another forty five. As the sun rose higher, the fog began to build and slowly enveloped us again. To breakfast we went!
So when asked how the shoot went we could honestly say "It was foggy when we started and foggy when we ended but the middle was unreal!"
Back in the classroom now and working our images. Off to shoot HDR at a local farm this afternoon and horses on the beach again tonight.
Good living.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stairs Take Two

3 Shot HDR, Canon 5D Mk II and EF 70-200mm f/4L
Lightroom, Photomatix Pro, Photoshop, and Topaz Adjust to process
Another shot from our trip to Morro Bay on Tuesday. I added Rick to scene and then shot just like before. Three shots with the Canon 5D Mk II and EF 70-200mm f/4L at Ev of 0,-2, and +2. I processed all three shots with Photomatix Pro and it's Lightroom plug-in. Remember to turn off the Tone Curve and Sharpening before the export!

The first time through Photomatix Pro I did a photo realistic effect and the second time I went with a little more grunge. From LR, I stacked the images in Photoshop and continued the process. I also brought Topaz Adjust into the game to help go even edgier. I desaturated everything but the sunglass reflections and finished with a little vignette (I normally use a Curves adjustment layer set to Multiply blend mode for my vignettes.)

Day Three with Rick Sammon

Moonset at Sunrise
9 shot HDR, Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70 f/2.8L
Three segments each shot at 0, -2, +2
HDR in Photomatix Pro and Pano in Photoshop CS4

Just returned from another sunrise shoot with Rick Sammon and the class. Yesterday might have been a little better but we're splitting hairs to make that call.

We're heading out for breakfast here in a few but will return to the lab for downloading and image processing.

We shot for about two hours this morning and have two more shoots scheduled later today. We are working with models and flash around lunch and will shoot horses at Pismo Beach around sunset.
I'll put up a few more HDR lessons learned throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

HDR from this Afternoon

3 Shot HDR, Canon 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4L
Processed twice in Photomatix, combined in CS4, worked in Topaz
A quick one from this afternoon. Shot for about three hours today in Morro Bay with Rick Sammon. Class had a great time and learned a huge amount.

I'll have a bit more time tomorrow to upload some more shots from today.



Another Quick HDR Pano

15 Shot Composite
Canon 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4L, hand held
The image above is a composite of 15 hand held shots taken during a scouting trip the other day. Workflow is to batch process in Photomatix Pro including merge to HDR and tone map with Details Enhancer. I saved the results as full quality JPEG to speed my photomerge. The panorama was stitched with CS4.
I added a little contrast back in and in so doing suppressed some of the shadow detail (a good thing most times, I think.)
Here in class with Rick Sammon. Rick's teaching HDR today so I'm working a couple in the back of the room.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

High Dynamic Range (HDR) in Maui

Link and information is up for my HDR workshop in Maui.

Should be a good time for HDR in paradise.