Puerto Rico – Part 3

This is the final part of my trip to Puerto Rico and the last images from the beautiful Old San Juan and the fort. Part one can be found here and part two is here.

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is very wide on FX – so wide, that it can fit lots of foreground in the frame. On one side, it is very nice, because you can highlight the front objects, but at the same time it can be a little negative, since it makes background objects look tiny. Here is where a large cannon used to stand before:

San Juan #18

And by walking a little closer to the shore, I got this beautiful view:

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Puerto Rico – Part 2

After a long delay, I’m now trying to sort through some of the images from San Juan. Although I only shot for a couple of hours, the day was just beautiful and opportunities for photography were limitless. Old San Juan is a beautiful place and I was amazed by its history, size, textures and colors.

As far as gear, I mainly shot with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G and both turned out to be excellent for street and architectural photography. The body was my favorite Nikon D700.

Beautiful streets of Old San Juan:

San Juan #1

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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.

HDR Photography Tutorial

This is a detailed tutorial on HDR Photography for beginners and how you can create HDR images from single or multiple photographs using different exposures.

While I was driving through Rocky Mountains last year, I saw a beautiful sunset. It was so beautiful, that I stood there in awe for a moment, before taking out my camera and attempting to take a picture. I took one quick shot of the sunset and quickly realized that there was too much contrast between the sky and the mountains for my camera. The image came out horrible – the sky looked somewhat fine, but the mountains were pitch black. I only had my camera and my trusty tripod with me, so I knew that I did not have many options. I decided to try out a photography technique known as “HDR” or “High Dynamic Range” and I ended up with the following image:

Combined in Software

While some people really like the above image, others just hate it. That’s how it goes with HDR in general – the surreal look of HDR photographs is not for everyone to love and enjoy, although, there are cases when it is done extremely well. But let’s save this discussion for later and first try to understand what HDR photography is all about.

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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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How to Photograph Waterfalls

In this article, I will share some tips on how to capture beautiful waterfalls. While it seems like a simple task, photographing waterfalls and making the water look silky smooth can be a little challenging, especially if you do not have the right equipment. Use the tips below to understand how to get this effect and capture beautiful waterfall pictures.

Waterfall - 5 Second Exposure (Shutter Speed)

1) Your goal – slow shutter speed

In order to make the water look smooth, you need to use an extremely slow shutter speed of several seconds or longer. Slow shutter speeds create the “ghosting” effect, making the subject appear smooth and blurry, which is exactly what you want. Fast shutter speeds only freeze the running water, making the scene look too ordinary. Here is an image of falls that I captured with a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/250th of a second:

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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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