Sand Dunes Sunset Panorama

Looks like I did manage to capture a single landscape image from the last visit to Sand Dunes, where Sergey and I had some fun taking pictures of aerial kicks. I thought nothing good would come out, since it was extremely windy and there was too much dust and sand in the air.

Sand Dunes Sunset Panorama

The above is a panoramic image that I shot hand-held with the 24mm f/1.4G. It did not get stitched properly due to parallax errors, but the bad stitches are not that visible because of the moving sand. The 24mm was not wide enough for a single shot and I knew that it wouldn’t work, but I only took one lens with me and I did not have much choice…

I will soon write an article about Panorama stitching techniques, where I will go into more details about the above problem.

Puerto Rico – Part 1

It all started with my flight from Denver to Atlanta, where only about 10 passengers in total boarded the plane. It was an early flight, but a very pleasant one, since I got to sit where I wanted and really enjoyed the flight in a very quiet environment. After arriving to the busiest airport in the world, I thought things would change, but they didn’t – only quarter of the plane to San Juan was occupied, which was once again very nice.

San Juan through clouds

After the plane landed, I headed off to a shuttle that drove us from San Juan to El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, which took about an hour.

The resort looked beautiful and once I got off the bus, I took a picture of a fountain that was sitting right outside the main entrance to the lobby. I really wanted to test the sharpness of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, so I took a few shots at different apertures. This one was taken at f/8.0 and I highly recommend seeing the full version here (6.6 Mb).

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Pics from Puerto Rico

Despite bad weather and very limited amount of time, I somehow managed to capture over 1000 images in Puerto Rico. It took me a while to go over everything and pick the images I like the most, so I now need to extract a few images and post them here :)

I took three lenses with me to Puerto Rico:
1) Nikon 24mm f/1.4G
2) Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
3) Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II + 1.7x TC

I tried to use the 24mm f/1.4 the most in different lighting conditions and apertures. Despite what others are reporting about this lens, specifically its focusing issues, I have not seen a single image where the focus was incorrect. Whether I shot something up close or a distant object, all images came out tack sharp from center to corner, as reported in my Nikon 24mm f/1.4 Review. Not sure if there is a batch of bad 24mm lenses out there, but mine is working flawlessly and I did not notice any problems at all.

Here is the first picture I took at the El Conquistador resort in Puerto Rico:

El Conquistador Pools

And the last image of the resort on the day of departure:

El Conquistador

The above image is a panoramic image stitched with 4 vertical images. I did not have to correct any distortion issues before stitching the panorama and Photoshop did a pretty good job in aligning everything together. More to come!

Western Meadowlark

My last image of the Western Meadowlark did not come out so well, so when I saw one today I decided to take a picture and see how it comes out. I think this one is better, with that green grass in the background. Spring almost seems to have made to Colorado, but as soon as I plan to go and take some pictures of the blooming trees, it freaking snows (it is currently snowing outside again). It will be cold and windy this weekend and I’m hoping for a better weather next weekend, because I have 5 wide-angle lenses to test!

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbirds are very common in Colorado. They are permanent residents in most local parks, including Cherry Creek State Park, where I captured one of them while it was singing to attract a female. Spring is a great time for birds in Colorado, except when it gets very cold. It snowed today in Denver and the temperatures dropped below 40F, which is not abnormal for Colorado in April :)

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

Hoping for a sunny day next week, so that I can get out and do some spring birding!

Captured with Nikon D3s and Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + 1.4x TC.

Dead Horse Point Panorama

Here is the promised panoramic version of the Dead Horse Point at sunrise. The full version is comprised of 8 vertical images, measuring approximately 32 megapixels with an aspect ratio of 2:1.

Dead Horse Point Panorama at Sunrise

All 8 shots were taken in Manual mode at f/8 and 1/10th of a second, ISO 200. Whenever you shoot panoramic images, always remember to switch to full manual mode to get identical exposure. You do not want your shutter speed or your aperture to change when you move from one point to another and shooting in manual will always yield consistent results for stitching software. Do not forget to disable Auto ISO as well – you want to keep your ISO at the lowest value for the best image quality. The above and other tips on panoramic photography can be found in my panoramic photography guide.

Back from Utah again

Well, technically, it was Grand Junction, not Utah. I had a very busy four day business trip to Grand Junction, CO and after spending countless hours taking care of a problem at work, I had a pleasure of visiting Moab, UT on the last day for a few hours. Woke up very early in the morning at around 3:45 AM and headed out to Dead Horse Point to make it there right before the sunrise. As I was driving the last 10 miles to get to the park, I saw seven cars slowly driving through the steep turns of Canyonlands. Who else would be driving that early? A group of photographers, of course! I was first following them, but then they were too slow and I was hurrying to get to the right spot at least 30 minutes before sunrise. So I stepped on gas and passed all seven cars at 90 miles an hour. I could tell they were pissed! Oh well, I wasn’t going to miss sunrise after 2+ hours of driving.

Arrived at the spot at about 6:20 AM and the sun came out at 6:42. Although the clouds were not as pretty, seems like I managed to capture a couple of shots that I like. I have not yet finished importing the files into Lightroom, but I will be working on some of those this weekend.

Meanwhile, here is me standing on the edge of the cliff:

Nasim Mansurov

And here is how it looks down there, with the nearest rock at approximately 300-400 feet below:

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Sunrise and Delicate Arch Wallpapers

Our readers kindly asked us to provide high resolution versions of Delicate Arch and Sunrise shots from my last trip to Utah, to be used as desktop wallpapers. Here are the two images in 2560×1600 resolution for widescreen monitors:

Delicate Arch

1) Delicate Arch 2560×1600 Widescreen Wallpaper


2) Sunrise 2560×1600 Widescreen Wallpaper

Enjoy! :)

Trip to Utah – Part 2

This is the second part of my trip log to Utah.

As we wrapped up Arches, we headed up to Canyonlands National Park while the weather was still OK. Afternoon at Canyonlands turned out to be rather productive and the sky got filled up with some gorgeous multi-layered clouds:

Canyonlands #3

Love those clouds! We snapped a few pictures with the clouds on the way up:

Canyonlands #1

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Trip to Utah – Part 1

I have been putting off working the Utah images for a while and I have finally decided to finish working on them this weekend. I decided to divide the photos to two parts – the first part is primarily Arches National Park and the second part is Canyonlands National Park. Although we spent about three full days in Utah, the weather did not cooperate half of the time, so we tried to shoot as much as we could while it lasted. On top of that, as I have indicated before, I lost about 8 gigs of photos from the last two days. Hope you enjoy these!

I was initially planning to go through I-70 directly to Grand Junction and stay overnight. After a rock fell on the highway and destroyed a portion of it, we detoured through highway 287. On the way to Grand Junction, we stopped at a local farm to take some pictures of the cows early in the morning:


This one looked at me, wondering what I was up to:

Cow Looking

Next, we headed straight to Arches. The park was flooded with rain from a couple of days before, so there were plenty of interesting pools in the area:


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