Upcoming Mansurovs Workshop Details

We are two weeks away from the first workshops this year and I wanted to provide an update on the content and location of the workshops. Due to a busy and hectic summer schedule, it was a little tough to keep up with the site, so I apologize ahead of time for not being able to provide all the details earlier.

1) Workshops and Dates

Once again, the workshops and the dates are the following:

  1. September 8, 2012 – Flash Photography Workshop (FULL)
  2. September 9, 2012 – Post-Processing Workshop (FULL)
  3. September 22, 2012 – Landscape Photography Workshop (FULL)

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Rocky Mountain High – Canadian Style

My wife, Tanya, and I recently vacationed in the Canmore/Banff area of Alberta, Canada. We settled on this location after reading a variety of reviews and looking over some stunning photos of the many attractions and wildlife. We planned a series of activities that would take us to some of the most scenic, historical, and cultural locations, provide some challenging hiking expeditions, and enable us to take a “few” photographs along the way. After receiving a new Nikon D800 (review), which I tested thoroughly, I was eager to put it to work in the field. Most of the photos in this article were taken with the D800, although some were shot with my infrared D90 (converted by Lifepixel.com). For those of you reading this on an RSS feed, you may want to consider linking to the main Mansurovs site, as there are quite a few photos associated with this post.

From Calgary To Canmore

We flew into the Calgary airport, and after renting a car, began the 74 mile drive from the Calgary Airport to the town of Canmore. This trip is an interesting study in transitions. Near Calgary, everything seems to be under construction. Bulldozers, heavy earth movers, building cranes, and construction signs dot the landscape in every direction. The terrain is pretty flat apart from a gentle mountainside slope on the western side of the city. Off in the distance, we could see some purplish mountains but didn’t have a good sense of their scale. 25 miles or so outside of Calgary, the scenery changes quite a bit. Green rolling hillsides of farm land become the dominant theme, with the familiar golden yellow hay bales lining the bright green fields. The purplish mountains have risen in stature quite a bit and we quickly realize that they are far different than those we left behind in western Pennsylvania. We also unfortunately discover that there are few exits for gas or food!

At the 50 mile mark, the landscape is changing quite a bit. Those little purple mountains seem to grow larger by the minute. Green fir trees that seem to have been cloned, now begin to populate the landscape like huge blades of grass. At the 60 mile mark, we are at the base of the mountains. The term “majestic” doesn’t quite rise to the occasion in describing what we now see. The mountain peaks require you to edge closer to the car window and strain your neck in order to see them. Even in August, we can identify snow patches that never completely melt.

The road begins to roll gently as we wind toward the valley between the mountain peaks. The number of signs warning you about the local wildlife population increase, and based on the fences that line the woods along the road, we suspect that the signs are not to be taken lightly. We had taken 3 exits hoping to find a restaurant or gas station only to conclude that the notion of modern facilities next within 25 miles of the exit is a mirage. We begin to imagine that grizzly bears and wolves have posted these exit signs to lure gullible travelers, low on gas and food, off the main highway where the animals can leisurely dine on them.

Within 5 miles of Canmore, we are deep into the mountains that seem be growing larger before our eyes. I am constantly trying to keep my eyes on the road as the rocky towers on both sides of the road continue to command my attention. By now, we are seriously wondering if we have been transported to another planet, since it couldn’t possibly be part of the one which we came from. Soon we arrived at the Falcon Crest Lodge, which proved to be the excellent “base camp” for our adventures.

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Mansurovs Workshop Schedule for 2012

Many of our readers have been asking about our photography workshop schedule for this year. While I initially planned for the summer, due to the increased interest from local photographers (many of whom are pros), we decided to postpone the workshops till the end of the summer. The summer schedule is pretty hectic for most photographers, including us, due to weddings and other photo shoots, so we decided that it would be best to conduct workshops in early September instead. Below you will find the more or less finalized schedule for our upcoming photography workshops.

1) Workshops and Dates

So far we have decided to conduct two workshops on two different topics:

  1. September 8, 2012 – Flash Photography Workshop
  2. September 9, 2012 – Post-Processing Workshop
  3. September 22, 2012 – Landscape Photography Workshop (FULL)

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Images from Another World

I just came back from a trip and wanted to share some of the images that were taken with the Nikon D800. Since I did not have a chance to shoot much with the D800 before the trip, my Nikon D800 Review had very few sample images, some of which were pretty bad for my taste. But as I have already pointed out, I had to publish the review before my trip, because our readers kept on sending me emails on a daily basis, asking when the review will be available. It is still a work in progress, so I will be updating it with more information this week. Check back the review occasionally and you will find more valuable information with plenty of details. Some readers requested me to provide more image samples and comparisons with the 5D Mark III and the D700, so I will do that later this week as well.

Back to the images from another world – the below images were taken with the D800 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lenses, in a remote location of New Mexico, known as “Bisti Badlands”:

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Best of 2011 – Landscapes (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my 2011 landscape favorites. Please note that some of the images you will be seeing in the “Best of 2011” wallpaper collection have already been posted earlier last year in various articles, but in much smaller resolution. If you are looking for technical data, like Camera type, Lens and Exposure information, you will find it in the EXIF data. Summary of cameras used for the below images: Nikon 1 V1, D5100, D7000, D700, D3s and Sony A65.

Enjoy!

Colorado Fall Colors

1) Colorado Fall Colors 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

Canyonlands

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Best of 2011 – Wildlife

While looking through the 2011 photographs, I realized that I shot very few wildlife images last year. Part of it has to do with the fact that I was too busy testing equipment, but I also realized that I just did not get out locally as much as I used to in order to photograph birds and other wildlife of Colorado. A large number of great wildlife shots from Yellowstone and Glacier NP were lost during my two week trip across North-Western US as well, due to my own fault. All in all, 2011 was just not a good wildlife year for me. Hopefully I will do better in 2012. Enjoy!

Tricolored Heron

1) Tricolored Heron 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2011 – Landscapes (Part 1)

Happy New Year! The Mansurovs are back after a short holiday, with some photos to share from 2011. At the end of each year, I go back and start reviewing what I have photographed. It is a very long and painful process, because I have to sort through tens of thousands of images and pick the ones that I think are worthy of getting published as wallpapers on our website, in addition to being featured in our portfolio (I know, the images in the portfolio are very old, but I am working on updating it). While the process is very time consuming, if you have not gone back and reviewed your images from last year, I highly recommend that you do. It is a great exercise to re-evaluate your work and understand your weaknesses. You should be a better photographer now than you were a year ago, so see what you like and you don’t about your pictures. Are you seeing a significant improvement in your work? How do the images from last year compare to the images from the year before? Once you pick your favorites (which you should limit to 100 images max and don’t forget to flag them in Lightroom), invite your friends and family to look at your images. If you have any photographer friends, ask them to help you out with this. Tell them to be very critical and only pick the images that communicate with them. Let them vote on each images and give a star rating from 1 to 5. Walk out of the room and come back when they are done. Filter Lightroom by 5 stars and see how many images you are left with. Then ask your friends/family to tell you why they chose those particular images, find out what they felt about each photo. Also ask them what they feel is missing in each image they picked – perhaps there are some things they see that you did not see before. Trust me, this kind of feedback is invaluable. It is OK if the feedback is very harsh – you should welcome any criticism. In fact, you need to learn to be very critical of your work.

This is the first part of my 2011 landscape favorites. Please note that some of the images you will be seeing in the “Best of 2011” wallpaper collection have already been posted earlier last year in various articles, but in much smaller resolution. If you are looking for technical data, like Camera type, Lens and Exposure information, you will find it in the EXIF data. Enjoy!

Sunset Rainbow

1) Sunset Rainbow 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

Mono Lake Sunrise

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McClure Pass in Fall

I have been so busy during the last couple of months, that I have not had a chance to work on any of the images from my recent trips. October is always a busy month for me, because I try to travel as much as I can in Colorado and Wyoming to capture the fall colors. This year was different than the previous several years, because we got some heavy snow in the mountains right when the leaves started changing colors. Because of this, many of the areas lost a lot of leaves very quickly. The window of opportunity to capture the beauty was only about 5-7 days and unfortunately, I was a little late (but more on that later).

Here is an image of fall colors right before we got hit with the heavy snow:

McClure Pass in Fall

The photograph was taken with the Nikon D7000 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens, without any filters. Actually, I could not use a filter, because the image was shot as a panorama (24 vertical images). As I have explained in my “how to photograph panoramas” article, using filters while photographing panoramas is a bad idea. Although the lighting conditions were ideal with the sun directly behind me, I was actually surprised by how the D7000 captured the scene. Its dynamic range is indeed very impressive and it just makes very colorful and beautiful images.

Post-processing in Photoshop took me about 5 minutes after stitching the image. I first started out by cropping the stitched image, then brightened up the shadows a little and adjusted the levels. Sharpened it up by around 40% in Nik’s Sharpener Pro, then saved and closed the image. The image popped up in Lightroom, I then increased the clarity a little to bring out the clouds and the trees, then exported from Lightroom at 80% resolution, adding our watermark using the same technique described in my “how to watermark a photo in Lightroom” article.

Mount Rainier and Olympic Photos

The drive from Montana to Washington was beautiful. I really wanted to stop in many different locations and take more pictures, but I had a set and compressed schedule that I did not want to change. It was rainy and wet at Mount Rainier, which is quite normal at this time of the year. The snow was everywhere though and it turned out that I was there too early. Should have done my homework. I wanted to take pictures of wildflowers, but because of the high snow accumulation this year, there were very few areas in the park where you could find them. Apparently, the best time to be there is late August to early September. Oh well! I still managed to take some good waterfall pictures though:

Mt Rainier NP #1

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Yellowstone and Glacier Trip Photos

Here are some photos that I decided to share with you from Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP from my trip across the Western USA. I have not done much processing on these yet, which I am hoping to do during the next few weeks. The images from Yellowstone NP are from the Nikon D5100 that I was testing – all images from my Nikon D3s were on the card that I unfortunately lost somewhere in Yosemite NP. All landscape images of Yellowstone are lost, so I only have some wildlife + wildflower shots to show.

While in Yellowstone, there was not a day when I did not see black bears. First day I was super excited about seeing a bear cub walk alone and eat flowers, so I took several hundred pictures of him eating, resting and playing. My favorite picture was with the cub sitting in between many wildflowers. Of course those pictures are all gone, so it is only a memory. During the next bear encounters, I only photographed when the bears were close. For the first couple of shots, I would use the Nikon D5100 and then switch to my D3s, due to better and more accurate autofocus. Here are some images of bears from the Nikon D5100 + Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR combo.

This is a black bear that some call “Cinnamon” bear:

Yellowstone NP #1

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