Boston’s Christian Science reflecting pool and the city lights…
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
Settings: 20 second Exposure @ f/5.6, 16mm Focal Length and ISO 200
I actually took 3 bracketed exposures for this shot, but threw out the -1 and 0 exposures. I liked +1 the best due to the sky having more motion to it. And it was not so overexposed in any area that I was unable to bring back the details in the highlights. After some initial treatment in Lightroom, the image was exported to Photoshop and I used some NIK Color EFX Pro to bring out the details and contrast. OnOne’s Perfect Effects was also used to give the night scene a bit of glow. Final adjustments were back in Lightroom, including a touch more clarity and a gradient filter placed roughly over the water to bring out the reflection a bit more.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF8-15mm f/4L FISHEYE USM
Settings: 6 bracketed shots @ f/16, 14mm Focal Length, ISO 100
5 bracketed shots were combined (I tossed the brightest exposure) in Photomatix to bring out the dynamic range. I used NIK Color EFX Pro to work the contrast and boost the colors in prep for NIK’s Silver EFX Pro conversion to black and white. Sharpening and Noise Reduction were applied last and final crop in Lightroom.
I have done a couple of retrospectives of my work from 2012. This included a couple posts including my top photos from the year as well as a video slideshow highlighting some of the travels and adventures I have had during the year. Though I don’t believe too much in dwelling on the past, it is certainly healthy to take stock of where you have been and where you wish to go from this point forward. Doing this enables one to gain encouragement from the progress they’ve made as well as taking a good hard look at what needs improvement. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel much more this year than I have in any previous years. The fact that I had my camera with me and was earnestly developing my skills as a photographer during these travels has made many things (pardon the pun) come much more clearly into focus.
Throughout the year, I spent many of my weekends exploring sights close to home – the State Parks and Nature Preserves. I was able to take in Indiana Dunes, Shades, and Turkey Run. I also explored much more right in and around my hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. I took advantage of great photo opportunities on the campus of Purdue University.
The camera allowed me to open up and see things that had always been around me with new eyes. It does take some imagination and effort to find awesome places to photograph in good ol’ Indiana, but they are there – if you look for them.
Our first big adventure my wife and I shared together was in February. We combined an anniversary trip and vacation and drove from Indiana to Charleston, South Carolina where I was able to photograph the great character of this historical and beautiful town. Along with the city, we took an early morning excursion to Folly Beach. Though the temps were downright cold, we witnessed a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic. During our stay in SC, we also made a special trip to a very old tree called Angel Oak.
Afterwards, we chose one of the plantations to wander and then made our way to Orlando, Florida and Disney’s Epcot Center. This was our fun, adult version of a trip to Disney and we had a blast! There was no shortage of photo opportunities in such a well-maintained, beautiful location. No one in the park ever seemed to have an issue with me setting up my tripod. Of course, I was courteous and respectful of others that were enjoying the park. We stayed at a resort within walking distance of Epcot, so it was nice to able to just stroll back and forth to the park.
Though Disney was a pleasure, we wanted beaches and warmth! So we continued the longer than you realize journey through Florida taking us to Key West. What relief to finally be in Key West, with a Margarita in hand, lying on a hammock and gazing up at the palm trees. We had plenty of time in Key West to relax and explore and we did just that. Key West is a lively town, likely just about any time of the year. The sunsets were fantastic and we had perfect weather. A place like this has you longing to come back as soon as you leave.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and the two of us got to see a lot in a short time.
In March, we headed to Chicago for St. Patty’s Day. We saw the parade and the river dyed green and I was up early for some shots of the city in and around Millennium Park.
During the spring, I was busy moving around the state and continuing to explore our parks. The next big trip was in June and it was another driving adventure to Boston, with a stop at Niagara Falls along the way. With me, my daughter and her family. It was a fun time showing her some awesome places. We had a graduation to attend in Boston and were staying with my brother’s family there. He was my guide and also an enthusiastic photographer. We had some good times exploring Boston and the campus at MIT. This was taken just blocks from his home at The Christian Science Center.
After this trip were more adventures up into Michigan and another trip to Chi-town in July. In August, I attempted my first solo overnighter up to Michigan to get some shots of some lighthouses. I had a loose plan of what I wanted to shoot and how far I wished to go if I found the time. I shot the South Haven Pier Light at sunset and the blue hour. Then I drove up to my destination for sunrise – Silver Lake State Park and Little Sable Point Light. With no place to really crash at the park and a police officer standing watch at the entrance, he was nice enough to guide to a campground where I crashed in the car for the night. It was easy enough getting moving in the morning as I found out that sleeping in the driver’s seat isn’t very comfortable. I was rewarded with a great, albeit brief sunrise that morning and a nice quiet beach all to myself for a couple hours.
This was an important adventure for me in that it was really my first photo-specific journey. I had a plan to capture something specific and was able to make it happen.
Last but certainly not least was our fall trip to Colorado. It’s hard to know where to begin to describe the time my wife and I had on this trip. We had a general plan of where we would travel, but aside from our first night there, we had no reservations – no agenda to keep. We spent our first night in Colorado Springs and explored the beautiful Garden of the Gods at both sunset (lots of people) and sunrise (no people). From there we made our way through old mining towns and the infamous Phantom Canyon Road, a narrow winding shortcut that takes you on a dirt road through some spectacular canyons. We spent a night at the campgrounds at The Great Sand Dunes National Park. We climbed the high dunes and camped under the stars. Had an awesome moment in the middle of the night when a family of deer strolled though our campsite.
We spontaneously stopped at a hot springs resort in the Collegiate Peaks area and used that as our home base to explore the many awesome places in and around The San Isabel National Forest. It was hard to leave the luxury of the hot springs and make our way for our last nights in Colorado. We stayed in Boulder as our home base for out trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. The city of Boulder was nice, but it was civilization again and we wanted our mountains back. On my 41st birthday, we headed to RMNP and spent the day hiking trails from glacial lake to glacial lake, witnessing soem of the most spectacular mountain views of the trip.
All in all, Colorado was a life changer. Mountains are now dear to me and I only wish to see more. The travel experience there also taught us both some great lessons. I never really remember the hotels I stay in or the restaurants I eat at, with the exception of a few that are outstanding, but what really makes the memories are the adventures had and the beauty beheld. I will never forget seeing this peak in the above photo disappear before my eyes in the mountain mist. This view was the last I saw of the mountains, really. From that point we headed home and the weather turned overcast and hid them from us.
It was a fitting end to the year and in the three months since then, I have not been out and about as much as I should. I have a treasure trove of photos to process, though. Many are still from Florida and Boston and Chicago. Maine is a definite for 2013. Other adventures are being planned and organized and I can’t wait for it all to begin.