Morning. Coffee. Yellowstone.

HDR Tutorial now en Español y em Português!

You all know we have a free HDR Tutorial here on the site for English speakers. Well we have a few international friends that have translated it for us into Spanish and Portuguese!

  • Tutorial HDR em Português – Esse simples tutorial HDR de 6-passos já ensinou milhares de pessoas ao redor do mundo, então tenho certeza que ele pode ajudar você também. E lembre-se, VOCÊ pode fazer isso!
  • HDR Tutorial Español – Este sencillo tutorial HDR de 6-pasos ya enseño a millares de personas alrededor del mundo, entonces tengo seguridad de que puede ayudarlo también. Y recuerde, USTED puede hacer esto!

Many Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Mexican Bothans died to bring you this information.

Daily Photo – Morning. Coffee. Yellowstone. Fog.

My poor family. I dragged them all out of bed at 5 AM and put them in the car so I could go take this photo. I did load up on plenty of coffee to keep things fresh and warm on this cool morning, but my kids zonked out in the back of the car anyway. Well, if they’re not asleep, they’re whining, “Dad??? You stopping again!” … I rush out the door and trail off, muttering into the wind, “Yes but art must be made, you see…”

This spot is not too far from the entrance to West Yellowstone. The warm water that comes from the earth mixes with the cool morning sky. It creates a surreal layer of fog that simply rests on top of the river. It flows up, around, and through the neighboring trees. It reminds me of the dry ice that comes out of cauldrons on Halloween.

To take this shot, I set up with a tripod and grabbed 7 exposures from +3 to -3. I always anchor at even zero for these “sun shots.” I also set up for matrix metering, since you can’t figure out where in the dynamic range to hang your spot.

HDR Photo

Clyde Aspevig Interview

A New Mini-Documentary Video

I’m very excited to show you this little interview!

In case you don’t know of the great painter Clyde Aspevig (or you missed that bit in my book where I referenced his paintings), then this is a great chance to do so.  I was lucky enough to spend several days with him again in Montana at a ranch, and I did not waste it.  Many of you know my fascination with the French Impressionists; the idea that I was able to talk to a modern day reincarnation of one was thrilling.

Daily Photo – Clyde Aspevig in the Wild

While I was out there with the D3S (see my Nikon D3S Review) taking video, I also grabbed a number of stills.  While Clyde was in the middle of one of his paintings, I knelt down to grab this one.  I love it… I think he looks like a demigod.

Running Wild, Across the Meadow

I Need a New Phone! Help, my Euro and Scandinavian Friends!

So, I’ve decided to give Android a chance for a bit. But, I want a good unlocked phone so I can pop a sim card in for any country. I like the looks of the Droid X, but it’s locked down. I figure that my European and Scandinavian friends know the models of some great new phones that run Android really well.  Here in the US, it’s hard for me to get a good grip on what the hottest Euro/Scand phone models are!

Here is what I need:

  • An unlocked phone where I can pop in any Sim Card (not sure which US service I will use yet)
  • The ability to use it as a wi-fi hotspot so I can connect my laptops and iPads (I can do this in Europe too, I assume)
  • The menu system in US or UK English
  • NOTE:  If there is an AWESOME one coming in the next few weeks or months, I can wait a bit too!

Update:

  • Based on feedback and tweets, I’m leaning to the HTC Desire
  • Wondering if I should wait on the HTC Desire HD in October !
  • Or if there is another good one coming out between now and then…  that will let me pop in another sim card

Why I am switching from iPhone (since I know many will ask!):

  • I love the apps, but, really, I use 90% of them now on my iPad.
  • Because I use apps on the iPad, on the phone, I find myself only:
    • Talking with voice (AT&T is awful)
    • Looking at Google Maps (which are better on the Android)
    • Use Twitter (plenty of Android apps)
    • Light web surfing…  (and rarely, at that)

Daily Photo – Running Wild, Across the Meadow

I was just returning from one little adventure and then I stumbled onto another one!

Every day, about this time, a few dozen horses from the ranch run free across the meadow to graze in distant pastures. They stay cooped up inside the corral for most of the day, so they love the chance to run free. The cowboy rides behind them, cracking his whip. It echoes through the valley and everything seems right in the world.

The Forest on the Mega Volcano

Interview on Trip Atlas

I'm making this 200-400mm lens look a lot lighter than it actually is. Shortly after this shot, I collapsed in screaming agony.

There is a new interview at Trip Atlas. We talk about this and that. How’s that for a description?

Nikon 200-400mm Review

I have put up a new Nikon 200-400 Review here on the site and sprinkled many new photos inside! I rented it from Borrowlenses.com last week while I was in Yellowstone. It was a fun lens to use and quite different. I pushed myself to do a few landscapes with it, and one of these is posted below!

Daily Photo – The Forest on the Mega Volcano

I would guess about 50% of people know this, and I should not take it for granted that everyone does.  But Yellowstone sits on top of a giant caldera, and it’s due to go off any time (at least, geologically due!) If you look at a map of Yellowstone from above, you can see the clear outline of the caldera.  When the mega-volcano strikes, it’ll be a doozy!

In the meantime, the ultra-thin crust of this area gives way to some remarkable geothermal events. There is a period of the morning when the air is cool and the earth is hot.  It creates an exceptional amount of steam in some areas.

I woke up about 5 AM to go catch this morning steam.  I use the D3S as my backup camera, and I had the 200-400mm affixed.  I challenged myself to capture some compressed landscapes, and this area seemed just about perfect.
This is a single-shot HDR that came from a RAW file.  These RAW files contain a lot of light information nowadays.

The Gentle Eye of the Beast

Amazing Time with the Wounded Warriors

Last night I had the chance to meet and present to a group of wounded soldiers that have recently returned from combat.

I’m still here at this ranch in Yellowstone, and we had some recent arrivals. There is a program called the Wounded Warrior Project, and many groups of soldiers come out to Montana to do a bit of fly fishing.

I sat by Dave Kumlien at dinner tonight (read about Dave here), who helps lead the Warriors & Quiet Waters program. He’s a master fly-fisherman (we call him the “Trout Whisperer” around here). He told me a bunch of different stories about this program over the last four years. He’s worked with over 150 vets and has 150 stories about how they have changed. I’m trying to convince him to write a book about it!

Anyway, after the big dinner, we all retired to the Great Room, and I gave a little half-hour presentation on photography. We had a great time during and afterward — and I was happy to meet and talk to them all.

Daily Photo – The Gentle Eye of the Beast

I gave a little impromptu workshop a few days ago.  I took a group of friends for the afternoon and we went out for an instructional photowalk, followed by a hardcore critique.

On the short walk, we visited a barn and a stable.  I gave assignments to people to all gather photos of the same subjects, find unique bits, and then submit a few photos for critique.  I’ve done this sort of thing many times before, and I’m always surprised at what I see.  Everything from the mundane to the stunning.  However, I am always impressed at what people find that I did not see.  I sometimes like to think that I can find many of the cool tidbits and angles, but then I am humbled when “newbies” find things that I completely missed!

Anyway, we had a great time milling about and comparing notes.  I did the whole assignment myself, and submitted this one into my own critique.

Our Night Under the Stars

Daily Photo – Our Night Under the Stars

I’m in the middle of a great trip to a ranch in Montana that I’ll never forget.

The nights here are always strange and different.  I’ve only gotten outside a few times to take photos, mostly because of inclement weather.  During the first week or so, the moon so high and bright that it caused everything to get blown out.  That’s no good and makes for a boring night.  Who needs a boring night?

The moon was just about to rise behind the mountains, and the night air was crystal clear. The soft cloud from top left to bottom right is the Milky Way, and it gave the night a nice texture.

Prismatic Steam in Yellowstone

The Geothermal Genie on Boing Boing

Xeni Jardin and Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing have always been supportive of the site here and are big proponents of Creative Commons. I’m speaking about this subject and more at Wordca.mp in Dallas in a few months, in fact.

Xeni recently ran a story about Iceland being a safe haven for new media, and they used this photo of the genie below.

HDR-Photo

Daily Photo – Prismatic Steam in Yellowstone

The photo above reminded me very much of this one below, which I had yet to release. This is the beautiful grand prismatic spring, which you have probably seen featured here before. This is the same scene from ground level.

Getting to this exact spot is not easy. There is about a one-mile hike to get to this area. The little trail is surrounded by trees, and there is no way to get a clear shot through the trees. So I had to bushwack to get through and then stand on fallen trees that jut out into this broiling lake.

HDR-Photo

My First Released Painting – Yellowstone on Fire

I’ve been working on this for a small eternity, and I am happy to finally release it. It turned out to be a much different experience than I ever imagined. (It’s not for sale… just a personal experiment…)

The work is just below, and under that are a few zoom-in details of various areas, in case you have further interest. There’s also a bit of a how-to down there.

HDR-Photo

More about the work

Since seeing a painting over the internet is sort of difficult, I have a few zoom-in shots, both directly overhead and from the side with a 50mm prime, in case you are interested in the details.

I have some videos on YouTube where I do these in different ways. ArtRage is pretty good, but this one is PS, where you make an invisible layer on top then use the oilpaint tool (and about 10 brushes) plus a wacom tablet to mix it the paints together. It’s cool because the angle of the brush bristles are the same as the angle of your hand above the tablet!

Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

My goal was to deliver the feeling of a fire and a sunset, one in the same


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I think all the blues turned out really well. I was inspired by, among others, the work of Clyde Aspevig.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I found the water very hard to perfect. I remixed my paint about 100 times before I got deep colors.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I did my best to make the edge clouds a mix of fire, clouds, and smoke


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

This signatures ensures that it will be worth more when I am dead


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I repainted the transition clouds time and time again until they felt right. Half my life, it seems, is spent staring at clouds. I did my best to show various layers of clouds in the atmosphere — from the high, wispy, icy clouds to the low, full, clouds of tumult.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

The canvas gave everything a nice texture… feels and looks good close up and far away


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I kept trying not to sing “Happy Little Trees” during this bit


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

This was one of my favorite bits of the work – it came more easily than the rest


HDR-Photo

The Wall of Fog

Server Upgrades Almost Complete

My sincere apologies that this has taken four days so far.  I’ve got the full team working on it… all in an effort to make things faster and better!  Please be patient, and we’ll see how fast we can get this perfect.

Daily Photo – The Wall of Fog

The morning in Yellowstone had the most unusual weather!

While I was driving in, the Earth-heated river was steaming in the frigid morning air.  It looked incredibly awesome, but I knew it was the kind of thing that was really tough to capture in a photo.  After a bit more exploration and random turns, the road approached a giant wall of solid fog.  I popped out of the car for a shot before getting back in to drive into the wall.  Inside, the morning light was strange when it came in at sharp angles through the trees.  Since I had to drive so slow, I pulled over to the side and took out my pack for a morning hike into the trees…  I have more of those shots to post in the future!

Beyond the Dome

Internet Trust and Sharing

I catch a lot of flak from other photographers for my views on sharing photography and art on the Internet. That’s okay… by now, most of you know that I don’t mind going against the grain (especially when I am right). This new way of sharing art on the Internet has been expounded upon by Matt Brandon from Digital Trekker – click to see his article. Matt is a really nice guy, and I enjoyed my conversation with him.

Of my many points, I am convinced that legitimate companies do not steal. And just because my stuff is Creative Commons, it does not mean they have commercial rights to it. They simply contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com and work out a deal — our licensing team entertains dozens of emails per week. It clearly works in our situation.

I have put a little video before that I found on Matt’s site on Creative Commons, in case you are not familiar with it…

Daily Photo – Beyond the Dome

This was one of those perfect days where I woke up and had no real responsibilities. I was able to drive aimlessly around Yellowstone to explore places I had never been. I took the road up north and went down as many side-roads as I could. After a bit of driving, and listening to some good audio books, I found this remarkable place.

I have a bunch of other images from Yellowstone. As always, you can just click on that link or the category at the bottom to see more from that location.

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