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.

Colorado National Monument

The canyons at Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction are not as big as the ones in Canyonlands, but they are still beautiful. The landscape itself is different and plenty of plants and trees make this place another natural wonder of Colorado:

Colorado National Monument

The below image was taken during a rain storm that was hitting parts of Grand Junction in multiple spots. The sun came out for a second and lit up the side of the canyon and I was lucky to capture the moment!

Sunset at Colorado National Monument

Captured with Nikon D700 and Nikon 16-35 VR lens.

How to Make the Sky Blue in Lightroom

One of the biggest frustrations in photography is the fact that our cameras are not able to fully capture the light and the dark tones that we can normally see with our eyes, which is known as “dynamic range”. How many times have you seen situations when the sky is blue and beautiful, but it comes out very pale or gray in your photographs? There are other cases, when the sky is not blue at all, but you still want it to be blue in your picture. Gladly, the problem can be easily fixed in Lightroom, as long as the rest of the picture is fine.

In this tutorial, I will show you how you can transform the sky from light-blue/gray:

Original Image

To darker blue:

Snow and Blue Sky

1) Graduated Filter Tool

In the past, if you wanted to fix the sky in a photograph, you had to open it in Photoshop, then work with it through layers and masks. With the introduction of Lightroom 2, Adobe provided plenty of great functions within Lightroom without having to use Photoshop. These new functions truly save a lot of time, because you can copy-paste the same settings from one picture to another, especially when working with panoramas.

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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:

Cows

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:

Pool

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Delicate Arch at Sunset

To be honest, I have not even had a chance to review all images from my Utah trip yet. One of the reasons is probably my frustration over the lost 8 GB of photographs, because of my own stupidity. I was so tired on the day we came back from the trip, that I completely forgot that I had photos from the last two days of the trip stored on one of the 8 GB flash cards that I had in my bag. I copied everything but that one card and never checked all of the images, assuming that I had everything.

Last Sunday we photographed a wedding and I happened to format and use that exact same card that contained the last two days of the Utah trip. I found out about it after we came home from the wedding and it was very painful to realize that those images are gone forever. I had plenty of great pictures on that card, including some sunrise pictures of the Dead Horse Point.

Oh well, next time I will know better!

Anyway, just wanted to show you a sunset image of the popular Delicate Arch that is proudly displayed on all license tags of Utah cars:

Delicate Arch at Sunset

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More Image Samples from Nikon 16-35mm VR

It is taking me a long time to sort through the images and pick the ones I like the most, so I decided to post three quick samples from my last trip to Utah where I shot with the Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0G VR lens. I haven’t had a chance to do any post-processing on these images, so they are exported from Lightroom with the default settings (standard Lightroom sharpening is applied).

If anybody is doubting the sharpness of the Nikon 16-35mm VR, take a look at the full versions of the below images and see for yourself. The images are razor-sharp from center to corner and the very slight amount of softness at 16mm does not bother me at all. Either way, it is way better than the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D and the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G.

All images are shot on FX (Nikon D700) and the corners will be even better on a DX body.

Nikon 16-35mm VR Sample 1 Resized

Window Arch Sunrise - Nikon 16-35mm VR @ 35mm, 1/200, f/10

Click here to download the full version of the file in JPEG format (4.5 Mb).

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Back from Utah

I’m finally back from Utah after a 7 hour drive from Moab. To get home before midnight, Sergey and I left a little early and missed the last sunset. The weather sucked during the last two days (we had 3.5 days total), so we only had a day and a half of good shooting. Nevertheless, I managed to snap 25 gigs of images, but I already know that most photos are going to be deleted. This was the first time when I tried shooting HDR panoramas in three rows and processing those images is going to be a very long and painful process. We only had time to check out some good spots at Arches and Canyonlands, although we did visit a couple of good spots for photography in the area.

Looking down

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Landscape Photography Post-Processing Tutorial in Lightroom

In this tutorial, I will show you how to transform boring landscape pictures to vibrant and beautiful images in Lightroom in quick and easy steps. I will show you the real benefits of using the RAW image format and just some of the possibilities it gives you to non-destructively enhance your photographs without ever leaving Lightroom. I personally use this technique for post-processing my landscape photography all the time and I hope you find it useful.

Read on if you want to be able to take an image like this (original, as came out of the camera):

Original

and transform it to an image like this:

Final

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Great Falls in Winter

Mukhsim and I spent the second day of my trip in Great Falls National Park (Maryland side). Although the falls are magnificent, the scene does not look so pretty in winter. Leafless trees, dirty snow and pale rocks, in addition to a windy and cloudy day did not present good opportunities for photography. We hiked for about a mile back and forth and finally went back, because I just could not see anything worth taking a picture of. Mukhsim said that the Virginia side looked prettier, but I bet it looks about the same at this time of the year…

Here are a couple of pictures from the day:

Great Falls National Park

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