With Christmas less than a week away, I probably won’t be making any posts this week.  I want to wish all my photography friends a very Merry Christmas!

2010 Christmas Greetings!

I moved to Colorado in September and believe it or not – I’ve not had any snow to shoot!   It has snowed several times here in the Grand Valley, but it vaporizes within an hour after falling.  I haven’t had a chance to get up on the Mesa yet, so I had to dig through my archives to find a suitable holiday image.  This was shot back in 2007 at Lake Shawnee in Topeka, Kansas after a bad ice storm rolled through.  Topeka was spared from the worst of it, but cities just to our north suffered severe damage from this storm in the form of miles and miles and miles of broken power poles, and accompanying loss of electricity.  Some folks were without power for weeks.  It was the worst ice storm to hit the area in years.  Very pretty to look at, but a mess to deal with.  I reworked this RAW file in PS CS4 and added some changes in levels and curves, and added some sharpening.  I toyed with the idea of converting to black and white, but decided I liked the addition of some warmth which the wood adds to the scene.

I hope everyone has a blessed, very merry Christmas!

Check back soon for a post about my favorite images of 2010.

After waiting for 19 days with no precip, we finally got another dusting (1″) of snow on the 16th! Because the temperatures overnight didn’t stay that cold and were predicted to rise into the lower 40’s the next day, I knew I had to work fast before the snow melted and the trails turned to a total mud pit, so went back out to MacLennan Park at sunrise on the 17th. I finally got to play a little with my new Canon 10-22 mm lens. At 10 mm there is some distortion, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It lends an interesting effect to tall trees.

Last weekend, I started my lens testing procedure and finished all test shots for the 10-22. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to review all the images but after looking at a few, it was no surprise that the sharpest apertures were in the mid-range and not at the largest or smallest settings.

With this shot, for example, I wanted to capture the starburst so used the smallest aperture at 10mm (F22). When comparing this shot with another shot at F14, it was very evident the sharpness of the lens fell way off. I hope to finish my lens testing the next few weeks and be able to label my lenses with which apertures are the sharpest. I also purchased a hyperfocal chart and hope to use this to improve the sharpness of my images. Through trial and error, I’ve been using different sharpening techniques for images I post to the web. So far, the technique that Marc Adamus (member of Nature Photographers Network) uses seems to work fairly well. I’ll keep working on it! Since I’m a self-taught photographer, I’m used to the trial and error method of learning. There are certainly a lot of resources at my disposal, and membership in NPN has been one of the best things I’ve done to improve my photography skills. NPN has many talented folks who never seem to mind sharing their opinions and techniques. Just viewing the images of these talented photographers has made me look at my own work much more critically and see flaws that I wouldn’t have noticed a couple of years ago, and makes me want to improve my techniques.
This scene is found on the Blue Trail. The stream was totally frozen, creating a great photo opportunity with a nice bend in the stream, the warm sunlight on the right, and the small falls frozen in time. As I was shooting, I noticed the sun coming up and creating a nice starburst. I got off about 4 shots before it moved behind more trees and the starburst was gone. I showed my husband this photo and he knew right where it was at and said “Yeah, I remember it. I had a bad bike wreck there!” Guess he and I will have different feelings about this location 😉
After getting the big scene, I got some more intimate shots of the falls with my 70-300 lens. I’ve never been a big fan of winter, but now that I’ve been out a few times with my camera, I’m starting to develop a different attitude. The snow makes everything look fresh, pure and beautiful. The air is clean and crisp. There is a peacefulness and serenity not present during other seasons. I really enjoyed my 4 mile hike, and I’m hoping for yet more snow SOON! MacLennan Park certainly has some beautiful places to explore.