In my few workshops, I always take time to show off this tool. If you want to see more, see my Silver Efex Pro Review here on the site. For those of you that have tried it before, then I probably don’t even need to tell you!
Since you guys know I am kind of a color-centric kind of guy, this thing has to be pretty cool in order for me to use it… Actually, I’d like to do a great deal more black & white stuff, but I know most people like the colorful stuff. I’ll continue to sprinkle these in from time to time if that is okay!
Daily Photo – Six Girls in New Zealand Getting Meat
While on a long drive from the Coromandel to Matamata (where The Shire is), we pulled into this pizza place to stock up on some much needed carbs. I saw these six girls lined up so perfectly, I had to grab a quick shot.
Most places in New Zealand outside of the cities seem to shut down about 8 PM. I had to start getting used to planning ahead to get dinner! It’s hard for me because I usually just go go go go until after sunset, taking photos like a madman… and THEN I think about dinner. But that trick doesn’t really work when you’re on the road there…
There is a new print release from Yellowstone: The Atomic Explosion and Mushroom Fallout at Sunset. Getting this shot was quite difficult because earlier in the day I forgot my tripod! I left it at a ranch where I was staying, and then rode a horse for 3 hours… and forgot I left it back at the ranch! That would have meant another 6 hours of horse-related-activity, and I was not up for that!
Luckily, I had gotten to be friends with the head park ranger for Yellowstone, named “Ranger Rick”. That’s his real name! How cool. Anyway, I had stopped at his place where I talked with Rick and his wife before he filled me up with all kinds of powerbars, snacks, and other goodies (he is so nice!) — AND he let me borrow his tripod! So, that was a real life saver. I spent another few hours out shooting until dark, then stopped back by his place after I took this shot, and left the tripod on his doorstep, not wanting to wake him up.
Daily Photo – The Dock to Forever
One of the advantages of going down all the side roads is that you get to find cool places! After leaving Nelson on the South Island, we found a little lake on the map that looked about perfect. After a few hours of meandering, we discovered this place was almost completely empty (just like every place else on the South Island!). Even better, there was a perfect little dock jutting out into the lake.
I first took a bunch of shots with my 14-24mm lens… but it was not really getting the dock with the distant valley in the right way. So, I put on my 70-200mm, zoomed in almost all the way, then backed up quite a bit to get the compression effect of the valley. Remind me to post the other version someday so you can see the comparison! I haven’t processed it yet — but it is in my “Pile to Process” — which is now 22,000 strong.
HDRspotting.com was started late last year as a spin-off of this site. We started it because we wanted to drive more traffic to and get more attention to other interesting HDR photographers and artists around the world. I knew that existing engines were not really doing a great job of spreading around and “creating” attention. So, in essence, we have created what I call an “attention generation engine”.
I knew that my photos were above average — and I had over 20 million views on Flickr. But then I would look at some of by friends’ photos (and even the photos of strangers), and I saw they only had a few hundred or a few thousand — and their photos were just as good if not better! Anyway, I thought it was high time to make a new site, designed to generate more traffic and attention to other photographers out there, and that was the origin of HDR Spotting.
Since then, whenever I have a speaking engagement or photowalk, I always have nice people come up to me and tell me how much more traffic they are getting. Often times, their views have gone from maybe a few dozen into the thousands. That’s great! And I think it will only get better from here.
Note that HDR Spotting is still in beta and is invite only. I do not hand out codes. You’ll have to get a code from an existing member, but I understand they are sometimes handed out in the HDR Group on Flickr or on Facebook. Anyway, this concludes the little HDR Spotting update. Be sure to check out the HDR Spotting Front Page too — new photos roll in there on a constant basis.
Daily Photo – Deep in the South of New Zealand
I drove over 4,200 kilometers while there — it was just a wonderful experience. Towards the end of the journey, we started making deeper and deeper into the southern island, where things seemed to get more wonderful and wild every kilometer.
The weather was crazy the whole time! It would go from sunny to violent little storms to random winds to perfect calm. During one of those transition periods, I was halfway to Milford Sound by this beautiful little lake when this rainbow peeked out. I quickly got into position to capture it, but then realized I had on the wrong lens! The 12-24mm was okay, but this really called for the 24-70. Despite worries of rain getting into the chamber, I switched out lenses, doing my best to keep all the elements at bay.
The night started out over at the Austin American Statesman Social Media Awards. I was a winner and got a cool little trophy – you can see it in the video below! While there, I met a bunch of interesting people… I’m always impressed at what a hub of social media Austin has become.
I was between parties and walking down the 6th street when along came Leo Laporte and his huge entourage. Leo has a big battery pack on his back, a camera, and a light. He carries around the contraption and broadcasts everything live to thousands of people on live.twit.tv.
Anyway, I was walking down the street – and I said, “Hi Leo!”. He didn’t know who I was at first, but then, after talking to me for a bit, he remembered. I told him that I was, indeed, quite forgettable, and I certainly took no offense.
The group was Leo, Robert Scoble, Jeff Jarvis, Dane Golden, and a whole bunch of other people, including a small contingent from Rackspace. That first picture there on the right is of me, Robert Scoble and Leo Laporte. Anyway, we geeked out for a few minutes talking about HDR Photography… he mentioned this website, which then caused a crash when the TWIT Army attacked it. As you can tell, Leo could not have been nicer… a very cool guy.
After our little talk, they started talking a bit about SmugMug and Chris Makaskill — if interested in finding out more, see my “How to Make an Online Photo Album” here on the site.
One of the people I met tonight was Justin Robert Young, who has a show on the TWIT network, and runs a website called “Weird Things” with my friend Andrew Mayne (who Twitter-duced me to Justin). Be sure to check out their website if you’d like to see some cool and unexpected stuff!
Even better, he invited me along and then got me right into the Mashable Party, which had a line halfway around the block!
Daily Photo – The Rapture
The drive to Milford Sound is probably the prettiest in the world. The landscapes were just outrageous. It’s a 2-hour drive, but it took me about 5!
Along the way, the clouds and sun were doing some crazy things. I drove down to the beach to grab this scene, just at the perfect time.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that Topaz Adjust 4 is now out, and I’m having a lot of fun with it! I took a while today on Twitter to answer questions about HDR and the book. One gentleman asked me about what settings I like the most in Topaz Adjust. I answered with “Photo Pop”, “Dramatic”, and “Portrait Drama”. All of those are quite nice… and great starting points for further adjustments.
Below is a shot of the cool new interface. You can get a demo from the Topaz website.
Daily Photo – The Homestead
I took my campervan from 90 KPH to 0 as soon as I saw this place on the side of the road! This caused some mild excitement with my two kids that were nestled in their clubhouse above my driver’s seat. This was a move they came to expect over the coming days.
It seemed just like the kind of place that I needed to shoot. The old house was abandoned and falling apart. So, of course, after I took shots of the outside, I ventured inside to really have a look. I got a ton of photos, and here is the first.
I was awarded one of the 25 winners without even knowing I was nominated. Cool! Really, it’s thanks to all of you… All I do is try my best to put up an interesting photo every day and share a little bit about the circumstances and the process. I’m glad it resonates!
Be sure to check that list – you are bound to discover a few other people in the Texas landscape that you may find interesting…
The Bridge – Edited with Topaz Adjust 4
I used Topaz Adjust 4 (try it on the Topaz Website) to help add a nice touch to the bridge photo today. Have you guys noticed much difference between it and the previous Topaz Adjust 3? I notice the UI is better, and a few other things, but no other big bullet points I can think of. Adjust 3 was already good enough! It has caused a few graphics problems for me from time to time, like it doesn’t quite complete processing the image. Has anyone else noticed that?
Daily Photo – The Tolkienesque Bridge
I normally don’t put two photos from the same city (or even country!) back-to-back in consecutive days, but I decided to award Queenstown this honor. It is very high on my list of cities to move to! I just need to check on a few things like broadband availability and a good spot to plop the family down, and I’ll be in business!
This is from the main park in Queenstown. It was as quaint as could be. The evening light made everything a little bit extra-colorful, and some clever little hobbit-engineer, found it fitting to put this nice little stone bridge across the pond. It is all quite nice, no?
I was thinking about planning a mega SXSW photowalk in Austin, but I have decided not to. They take a lot of work to plan out and execute on… I’m afraid I just don’t have the time to make it happen!
I know many of you are coming to Austin for SXSW – maybe I will see you around the streets!
Daily Photo – Mountainstorm
I took an evening drive to Glenorchy, which is about 50 km outside of Queenstown. It’s one of the windiest drives in the world, especially in the middle of a violent storm! The rain stopped for a short time while I went on a short hike to capture the mountains across the lake.
The wind was so intense. After setting up the tripod and setting up the interval timer, I had to shield the whole thing with my body, by leaning into the wind on the more threatening side of the camera. As I was doing this, I was wondering if anyone would really want to be my assistant. it’s not nearly as glamorous as you might think!
Little did I know that one of my newsletter subscribers is also an HDR enthusiast and one of the guys at HobbitonTours.com! How cool! He sent me a nice note before I came, offering to take my family and I on a private tour of the Shire. Anyway, I wanted to make sure to link back to his website, even though he did not ask me for any favors. Also, I should tell you that Ian Brodie made the official guidebook for the Lord of the Rings tour around New Zealand, and it shows where every scene was filmed… kind of a fun way to do a travel guide!
One of the coolest things about this is that the set is currently being rebuilt for the two-part move of The Hobbit! The landscaping crew is already there, moving around trees, shrubs, and they even have the stakes in the ground to rebuild the Green Dragon. I understand that tours of the Hobbiton Movie Set will still go on, even while they are getting ready to film The Hobbit.
Much of the original set has been destroyed from rain and storms and general wear-and-tear, but you can still see where many of the main Shire shots were taken. If you are a fan of Hobbits, then you simply have to go!
Daily Photo – Bilbo’s Hobbit Hole and the Party Tree in the Shire
I showed my 8-year-old son all the Lord of the Rings movies prior to our trip to NZ. He then re-watched the first one three times on the car trip… so he was just as excited as I when we arrived.
You might remember Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit hole and all the scenes with Frodo and Gandalf inside. That is it right there, on the right hand side at the top. The huge tree on the left is the “party tree”, which was the centerpiece for the big party for Bilbo’s birthday. It was the one of the main reasons that Peter Jackson chose this remote farm outside of Matamata on the North Island.
I put this video on a special Camera Bag page here on the site — and included the link in the recent newsletter that went out a few days ago. It has a few comments on there with model numbers and the like, if you are interested!
Cali Lewis and John P met me for lunch one day in Texas, and John had his handy-dandy video camera. I was just about to leave for a long photo-adventure, and we decided to use the opportunity to document what is in my bag. I know many people are interested in this, so here we go!
I mention some Photography Gadgets there in the video — and if you want more information on any of the things inside, see my “Reviews” area of the website.
Daily Photo – The Remarkable Mood
Oh wow do I love New Zealand! Every city I have been to is remarkable in its own way, and I was particularly struck by the environs around Queenstown. It’s just an amazing place. I’ve been completely swamped with photo activities, but I stayed up till 4 AM in my “HomeCar” (as my daughter calls it) to process this photo. It’s all a perfectly magical place, as you can plainly see here. This was the beginning of a three-hour sunset drive that went around this same lake… every stop was more moody than the next.
That mountain range? It’s called “The Remarkables”. What a cool name.
Topaz Adjust 4 is out today on the Topaz Website. You may have already seen my Topaz Adjust Review in the recent past, and you’ll be happy to know the new one is a free upgrade if you have the previous one! I got a sneak peak at the new one, and I posted an image below from the slick new interface. If you haven’t already got it, then I recommend it totally. I use it quite a bit to sharpen things up and give images some pop.
Screenie from the new Topaz Adjust 4 – Nice looking interface, eh?
Daily Photo – The Icy Cave at the Franz Josef Glacier
I’ve had an amazing time so far in New Zealand. I’m here for about a month with my family. On a recent evening, my 8-year-old son and I went on a decent hike to the base of the Franz Josef Glacier on towards the west coast of the southern island. Once we got close to it, we could see the icy blue cave where a glacial-white river emerged. Awesome! My son looked at me and said, “Wow. I feel like we just discovered Atlantis!”
In truth, we stayed way too late. This was a good 1.5 km from the car, and it was pretty dark. By the time we got back, it was totally dark except for the moonlight that helped guide us home. I had a flashlight hanging off my camera “just in case”, but, as case would have it, the flashlight fell off into the glacial river!