Texas Landscape Safari – Hill Country Drive

Here is another of the incredible sights you can expect to photograph if you decide to join me on this fall’s Texas Landscape Safari. The area just northwest of Austin, Texas covers some of the beautiful and picturesque scenery in the state. From this lookout at the Inks Lake State Park you can follow the Colorado river all the way north from Inks Lake to the Buchanan Dam. In October, the air should be crisp and clear providing a wonderful opportunity to capture some beautiful landscape images. Come and join me for a Hill Country drive during the Texas Landscape Safari this fall.

Hill Country Drive

Hill Country Drive – Burnet, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 50mm, f/11 for 1/50th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film and post capture processed in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Inks Lake State Park, Texas Landscape Safari, Texas Landscapes

Texas Landscape Safari – Lower McKinney Falls

Here is another of the incredible sights you can expect to photograph if you decide to join me on this fall’s Texas Landscape Safari. McKinney Falls State Park in Austin , Texas is a hidden gem in the middle of central Texas. This wonderful little state park boasts one of the most picturesque water falls in Texas that is only a few minutes from downtown Austin. The upper falls is a well known swimming hole but my favorite place is the usually deserted lower falls with its beautiful rock formations.

Lower McKinney Falls

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/11 for 1/25th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. The image was post capture processed in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro filter. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, McKinney Falls State Park, Texas Landscape Safari

Landscape Photography – Shadows

Just a quick post to start off your weekend on the right foot. I took this shot last month at the Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City, Texas. It was a warm evening with an even warmer breeze blowing in from the south. The sun was just over the horizon and sinking fast behind the trees west of this section of the falls. It’s always nice to take a few shots right before the sun sets. The long dark shadows bring out the wonderful textures all around you.

I’m heading down to Goliad, Texas this weekend to shoot at the Presidio de la Bahia & Mission Espiritu Santo de Zuniga historic sites for my book. Have a wonderful weekend and get out there and make some great exposures!

Shadows

Shadows
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/8 for 1/100th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas Landscapes

Post Capture Processing in Lightroom 2

I got an email yesterday from a reader asking for a little more detail about my post capture workflow in Lightroom. It’s funny but the actual workflow I use is really determined by the image and the story I want to tell. Some images are converted from Raw to Jpeg in only a few steps (usually to add contrast) and others may take hours of trial and error like this image for example.

Mirror

Mirror – Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter attached. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/11 for 8 seconds at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Original RAW Image

Here’s what the raw file looked like in Lightroom 2 before any processing was done. As you can see the long exposure (8 seconds) I used with my Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter overexposed the image significantly in the highlights. Luckily the silky smooth looking water turned out just as I had hoped, so all in all not a bad place to begin.

My first step is to Crop the image as shown above to eliminate the “clutter” at the top of the frame. The water now runs from the lower right hand corner diagonally to the left and then to right and (hopefully) draws the viewers eye deeper into the scene.

Camera Calibration

Camera Profile Preset

My next step is to select the Camera Profile preset I wish to use. For landscape shots this is usually Camera Landscape or Camera Portrait because of the extra saturation these two presets add.

White Balance

White Balance

Then I set the White Balance directly rather than accepting the default. This usually adds some warmth to the image which most raw landscape images need. If there happens to be any neutral gray in my image I may use the eye-dropper to set a custom WB but most of the time Daylight or Cloudy works well.

Basic Settings

Basic Settings

After setting the White Balance I generally work on the other Basic settings like Exposure, Recovery (very important), Blacks (also very important), Brightness and overall Contrast. I almost always crank up the Clarity (adding mid-tone contrast) and Vibrance (adding mid-tone saturation) and may play with these two settings for 20 or 30 minutes until I find a combination I like.

Tone Curve

Tone Curve

Finally I begin tweaking the Tone Curve controls until I obtain the contrast desired in the image. A good rule of thumb I always try to follow is to make sure you have some deep black areas and pure white areas when you’re done adjusting the Tone Curve. It’s that Ansel Adams “Zone” training coming back to me.

HSL Settings

HSL Settings

To enhance the colors and really set the “mood” of the image I’ll generally spend quite some time playing around with the Hue, Saturation and Luminance settings. This is where you let your creative side go wild trying different combinations for each color until you obtain just the right look and feel.

RAW Sharpness Adjustment

RAW Sharpness Adjustment

The last two steps are the easiest. Every RAW image needs some Sharpening and depending upon your image, the tools built into Lightroom may or may not be up to the job. In this case, the mid-tone contrast of the rocks and water in this image is sharp enough that I can use Lightroom to add just a wee bit more before exporting it.

Post Crop Settings

Post Crop Settings

My final step is to add some darkening around the edges to highlight the center of the image. This is commonly done to emphasize the subject and draw the viewer’s eye into the image. Ligtroom’s Lens Correction and Post-Crop settings do a very good job of this without adding significant noise to the image. I really like how the Feather and Roundness controls allow very detailed control of the vignetting desired.

For an image targeted for the web, I’m done except for exporting the image to a JPEG. For an image that I’m going to print, the workflow is similar but many steps are done in Photoshop CS4 using Nik Software’s plug-in filters like Sharpener Pro, Viveza and Dfine. These Photoshop plug-ins allow me greater control and much faster speed than I can achieve in Lightroom itself.

Folks, like anything else in photography, your mileage may vary when using these techniques. Please keep in mind that each image you take is unique and will require it’s own workflow. I make no claim that this is the “best” workflow and I’m no Matt Kosklowski, Scott Kelby or Dave Cross. Feel free to comment to your heart’s content, but be kind!

Posted in Photography Tagged: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Canon, Canon 50D, Pedernales Falls State Park, Photography

Bird Photography – Flying Solo

Here’s a shot I took last December at the Brazos Bend State Park near Needville, Texas. It’s unusual to see a Black-Bellied Whistling Duck flying alone. There are usually hundreds of them on this pond and when one takes off, they all take off.

I have a small confession to make about this image. I cheated a little in post by using Alien Skin’s “Bokeh” plug-in filter in Photoshop CS4 to blur the background. This has the intended effect to make the bird appear much sharper than it really is.

It’s a great little trick you can use on any image with a diffuse background but many wildlife photographers and most nature photography magazines frown on this practice since it’s not “natural”. Well, I’m no photojournalist and for me it beats having to spend $5000 on a fast super-telephoto lens.

Flying Solo

Flying Solo
Copyright 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 300mm f/4 L IS USM + EF 1.4x Extender monopod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 420mm, f/5.6 for 1/500th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 using Alien Skin’s “Bokeh” plug-in filter. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Bird Photography, Canon, Canon 50D, Photography

Texas Landscape Safari – Pedernales Falls

Here’s another shot taken at Pedernales Falls State Park on a warm, muggy summer evening. The summer long drought had lowered the river’s level enough to expose the wonderful color of the limestone boulders cut by the water thousands and thousands of years ago. Each time I visit this unique spot, I find another feature of these beautiful falls just waiting to be photographed. That’s the truly wonderful thing about shooting waterfalls. They are constantly changing with the flow of the water.

Pedernales Falls State Park is the fourth stop on the Texas Landscape Safari beginning October 18th and running through October 21st. Given the weather forecast for next week and the rain we’ve had lately I’m certain we’ll all get some nice shots at the falls.

Pedernales Falls

Pedernales Falls near Johnson City, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 50mm, f/13 for 1/10th of a second using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Adobe Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Landscape Photography, Pedernales Falls State Park, Photography, Texas Landscapes

Thursday Quickie – Lexar CF Cards

I love my new EOS 50D but a 15.1 megapixel sensor creates very large RAW files which can bog down a non-UDMA CF card and quickly fill up anything with less than 16GB.

So, if you own one of these.

2008 Canon EOS 50D

You’ll need one of these.

Lexar Dual Slot Reader

And some of these.

Lexar UDMA CF Cards

Happy Thursday!

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Lexar