The Spray of the Tasman Sea

Art Show in Austin

I arrived a little late to the show, and the girl that clicked us in said there were over 200 people there! Crazy! But it was really awesome to see this World’s Largest High Resolution Tiled Wall display. I enjoyed meeting a bunch of new people, seeing other artists, and checking out the whole scene.

A gentleman there named David Ingram (Dingatx on Flickr) grabbed this photo below to give you some idea of the scene.

Daily Photo – The Spray of the Tasman Sea

This was an incredibly difficult photo to achieve!

I did this one live, in front of my HDR Workshop in Tokyo. I like to tackle new photos in front of people so they can see how I struggle through the HDR process. It’s never easy… and I like to talk out loud and let people know my thinking process. I think this is a very interesting way to give a live tutorial, rather than go by some automated and predictable script. The way you think about all the unexpected problems, dodge and roll with the issues, and synthesize various tools to accomplish an end goal is an interesting process.

You’ll also see this on the upcoming HDR DVD. One night after an outing, I came back to process some brand new photos, and they all got to see me struggle through a few pieces to come up a satisfying work.

This was shot very recently when I was down on the extremely frigid coast of the Tasman Sea, on the southwest edge of New Zealand. With a wide-angle lens, you need to get in really close to this icy cold spray to get the splashes just right… I was completely soaked after this, and it felt (and smelled!) like I had just finished a multi-week crab hunt in the arctic!

Flashback Photo – I’ve Reached the End of the World

You can see the edge of this one from the giant wall display above… This one was also taken not too far from Antarctica…but on the opposite side of the globe down near the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. The huge display allowed my son and I to walk up very close to it… there is a little iceberg there, and he saw the two rocks. He asked me what they were, and I told him that I threw them out there while waiting around!

From the Forest, Across the Valley

Upcoming Review of Nikon 18-200 Lens

This is probably an unexpected lens for me to buy, but I’m really getting a kick out of it! I’ll be sure to update the Nikon 18-200 Review when it is all done.  I’ve been using it a lot in the last few weeks and I quite like it.  I wasn’t sure for a while…  mostly because it is a DX lens.  But I am using it in a bit of an unconventional way — anyway, a full review will come when I get a bit more time!

I added a few pictures of the new lens on my camera while here in Japan. You can get an idea of the relative size of the thing… it’s certainly a lot smaller than the 24-70mm or the 70-200mm. By the way, this will be the crux of my review… that is more convenient and lighter, and the higher f-stop is not a problem whilst in a tripod.

The 18-200 lens retracted at 18mm on the body of a Nikon D3X

Daily Photo – From the Forest, Across the Valley

I’ve read several interesting anthropological studies of what people like to see in paintings.  I assume the same thing goes for photos.  I don’t hyper-analyze all the constituent parts, but I do notice when they come into play naturally.  There are a number of features that are desirable, most of which track back to a genetic history of the Pleistocene.  One interesting bit is that we like the idea of being near the protection of a forest while looking out across a wide plane that has a sense of scale.

Well there is plenty of that in New Zealand!  This spot was found on the long drive to Milford Sound.  I had so many wonderful distractions along the way…  how can I not stop for something like this?

The Valley of Abundance | HDR Camera Recommendations

Updated Camera Recommendations and Equipment List

People commonly ask me how to get an “HDR Camera” (see link for recommendations). Well, I have to tell them that there is no such thing as an “HDR Camera”. But there are certain types of cameras that are better at making HDR photos than others. The secret to HDR is not really in the camera, but in the software and process.  If you are new, I have all that laid out in my HDR Tutorial.

I used to recommend the Nikon D40 as a good entry-level camera, but I just can’t do it any more. Yes, you can make a decent HDR out of a single RAW file, which the D40 can certainly do, but it is not always optimal. I have organized the three categories of camera into “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” to make it simple for people that are just getting into the sport.

I talk to thousands of people that are new to photography (or just about to get more serious about it), and you’d be surprised how many people ask me, “So where do I get an HDR Camera?”  The most important thing is that your camera can do auto-bracketing.  I only know about and recommend Nikon cameras — I am just not all that familiar with Canon.  Although, if you have a Canon DSLR camera, you should be just fine.

New Newsletter Soon – Free How-To Video

If you like the photo below, I have a how-to video that will be included with the newsletter. It’s free, and I promise not to spam you. I send about one per month, and try to fill them up with beautiful things… The newsletter is spreading like wildfire! If you are not yet on it, fill out this simple thing below and get ready…


Daily Photo – The Valley of Abundance

I started the day in Queenstown and decided to cut out early because it was too stormy. That was too bad, because I was really excited about going up the mountain to do the street-luge. I did it near Rotorua on the north island and had a great time.

Anyway, I was disappointed to leave, but I had a good feeling about where I was going to next towards Milford Sound. The feeling paid off, because I found this place as the sun was setting! This valley could have been more perfect, but I just don’t know how! On this one, I used my 70-200mm lens, which is typically not a lens I use a lot for landscapes. I made a little handheld video that I am going to get edited together for the newsletter crowd to see first!

Deep in the South of New Zealand

HDR Spotting Doing Well!

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 Rapture

Live on Leo Laporte’s SXSW Broadcast!

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.

To get a good view of his setup, AND to see how HUGE SXSW is here in Austin, see this amazing video of Leo crowd-surfing at the Diggnation event! He was live streaming the entire crowdsurfing event to thousands of people all over the world… very cool!

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.

Weird Things

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.

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