Hawaii Photograph Workshop with Thom Hogan: Day 1.
Ten years ago, I arrived in Hawaii to attend a photography workshop with Thom Hogan. It was hard to believe the day before I was in Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in northern Colorado. At that time, I had only been taking pictures with a DSLR camera for just over one year. Soon after getting the camera, I found Thom’s web site which became a very helpful resource as I was learning to use the camera (much more useful than the Nikon manual provided with the camera). I purchased his guides for the D200 (and subsequently the guides for all of the new Nikon cameras I have used. These guides are by far the best resource for understanding the capabilities of the Nikon digital cameras. I saw a note in Thom’s web site that there was a late opening for his Hawaii workshop over Thanksgiving week. I signed up right away since I knew that there was a lot more that I needed to learn to become a better photographer. The first evening in Hawaii, we went down to the beach for sunset. I took these two pictures of boats with the sun setting behind them. Little did I know, it would become a contest between some friends on a Semester at Sea voyage to get images of boats or ships in front of the setting sun.
I just returned from a Winter Photography Workshop in Iceland. I’ve already posted a few images from the trip on Google+, which have been reposted here. One of the reasons I signed up for the trip was the opportunity to photograph Northern Lights from Iceland. Last year I got some great images of the Aurora Borealis in Tromsö, Norway and hoped to do the same in Iceland. I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland two days before the workshop and arranged a private tour with TripsByLocals.com to go Aurora Hunting. It didn’t look promising when we left the hotel (snowing an hour earlier). For the first 2 hours the sky remained mostly overcast. We then found a spot where the sky started to clear, and started to see the Aurora. It was cold and windy, but I found a place behind the van where I could set up a camera on a tripod. I was able to get 80 images which I used to create a time-lapsed video. The moon was almost full, and lit up the snow covered lava field in the foreground. It turned out that this was my only opportunity to get some good images of the Aurora on this trip. My father commented that it was not as good as the images I got in Tromsö last year. The weather for the Iceland workshop did not cooperate – lots of rain and snow with significant cloud cover. On the first day of the workshop we were supposed to fly from Reykjavik to Höfn but the weather in Höfn didn’t cooperate (even though it was sunny in Reykjavik). After spending some extra time waiting in the Reykjavik airport, it was decided that we would fly to Egilsstadir and take a several hour bus ride to Höfn. On the positive side, I got to see some of the Fjords on the east coast of Iceland, and on the negative side I lost a camera battery on the bus ride between Egilsstadir and Höfn when we had to change from a big 55 passenger bus to a smaller van. Once we got to the airport in Höfn we transferred to the van that would be our transportation for the rest of the workshop. Our first stop was the black sand beach on the coast next to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Every day when the tide goes out, ice that calved from the glacier in the lagoon goes out to sea, then when the tide comes in, the ice lands on the black sand beach. The makes for some great photo opportunities. However, as we arrived the rain started. We could only stay out for about 15 minutes before getting soaked in the cold and windy rain. We then went to Hotel Smyrlabjörg. I stayed at the same hotel last summer. The Icelandic food served at dinner was outstanding. When I went to sleep it was still raining. During the night the wind increased to the point it sounded like a train was passing outside my window. At about 01:30 AM I woke up and could see some stars in the sky outside my window. I went outside to get a look. It was still very windy. Windy to the point that I could barely stand up. I took a couple of pictures, and could see that the Northern Lights were starting – but there was no way I would be able to stay out in the gale force winds. So I went back to bed. The next morning at breakfast our workshop leader was gushing about how great the Aurora was between 03:30 AM and 05:30 AM. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to wake the majority of the workshop participants even though he stayed out taking images for his portfolio. There were lots of apologies and excuses that he didn’t know what rooms we were in, but we were all staying in adjacent rooms. This turned out to be the one and only night that the Aurora were visible during the workshop. I was lucky to get the one night before the workshop to see and photograph the Aurora. Most of the others that spent thousands of dollars to see and photograph the Northern Lights as part of the workshop were very disappointed.
When I first set this image of the day photo blog up, I was committed to post an image from this day (not necessarily this year) every day. And sometimes commentary of what I was doing and reviews of photo gear, image processing software, and computer gear. I fell way behind during the Semester at Sea Spring 2013 Enrichment Voyage (~52 Days – Spain, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Norway, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany) with very limited internet access. Once back home I needed to digest the ~70K images I took. When working through these images I noticed that Mike Hagen/Nikonians Academy had an opening for an Iceland Photo Adventure end of July/beginning of August. I contacted Mike to see if I could sign up at the last minute. Mike was actually in Africa on a different Photo Adventure. His wife got back to me and I signed up. Iceland has always been on my list of places I wanted to visit. Iceland is an image rich environment!!! In the 10 days including travel I took ~35K images. Reykjavik, Geysers, Puffins, Glaciers….) When I got back from this trip I realized that I needed to significantly upgrade my local and remote storage space for images. Before going on the Semester at Sea trip, my brother worked out a process that any image I posted on Google+ would also get reposted on this site. So I hope that you have seen many images from the Semester at Sea Voyage and the Iceland Nikonians Academy Photo Adventure. More Images to come. Our local Photographer host in Iceland (Tim Vollmer) did a great job getting us to locations that were target/image rich. Tim is a world famous Icelandic photographer (born in Germany). His company hosts many trips to Iceland (and other parts of the world). I had hoped to sign up for one of his trips (along with several friends) later this fall/winter in Iceland to chase the Northern Lights – however, after several e-mails haven’t received a response. ARRG!!! I either need to plan something by myself, or the backup plan is to go back to Tromso in Norway (with road trips to Sweden and Finland).
As far as milestones, I have been retired for just over 1 year – and have visited more than 20 countries, and taken over 200K images. Also, as of yesterday I now have more than 10K folks on Google+ that have added me to their circles. If you haven’t joined G+ I highly recommend it. I haven’t looked back since leaving Facebook. It has also been just over a year since I last shaved. Do I let the beard grow for another year?
Image Processing Techniques — Comparison of HDR Programs
A comparison of different HDR (high dynamic range) programs for rendering a series of images 7 images taken at different exposures (+3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3 EV). The programs compared are Photoshop CS5, Photomatix Pro, and Nik HDR Efex Pro. I should note that I am not able to run the Nik HDR Efex Pro on my desktop computer as it causes Photoshop to crash. I had to use a different computer to process the images using the Nik HDR Efex program. The images were taken during a workshop in Hawaii in 2007 with a Nikon D2xs and 105 mm f/2.8 VR macro lens.