Planning for Photoshop™

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One of the most overused statements by photographers has to be, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop™.”

When photo editing software is used to compensate for sloppy camera settings, poor composition or incorrect lighting, the photographer must, by definition, degrade the image in order to “fix” it. Exposure adjustments, color temperature adjustments and cropping all remove pixels and, therefore, reduce detail in an image. The photographer does not deliver the best images and the client suffers with this lower quality.

To be clear, I use Photoshop and/or Lightroom on just about every image I deliver. Digital images are not in final form when captured in the camera. RAW images must be processed and some editing adjustments are also needed. But my strategy is to use any photo editing software as little as possible, and only as a last resort if needed to fix a mistake that cannot be recovered in another way (such as a re-shoot.)

Recently I took some photos of an artwork restoration project. Tom Jones owns Sierra Hills Framing in downtown Lincoln. He recently framed a large painting that had been meticulously restored and he wanted some photos of the finished product before it was delivered to the owner.

Here is the back story on this painting: The artist was Gustave Henry Mosler, who lived from 1875 – 1906. He painted this image in 1902. The painting is nearly 8′ tall and about 11′ wide. The owner discovered it stored in a barn on rural property that she had inherited. When she found it, the painting was rolled up, had several rips in the canvas and was covered in mud and dust. At first she considered discarding it without investigating, but soon realized what it was. A professional fine art restorer in Grass Valley brought the painting back to life by attaching it to a new canvas and attaching it to a stretching frame, and carefully cleaning it. Tom Jones completed the final framing work.

I first considered the best way to light the painting in order to photograph it. The surface of the canvas has several ripples and creases, and the glossy paint finish was very reflective. I determined that any lights within the family of angles would reflect on the surface. If I moved the lights more to the sides, the raking of light would bring out the rippled surface and likely reflect those as well. After looking at the painting, I decided the best solution was to photograph this item with the full intention of using Photoshop as part of the primary capture process.  I would light and shoot the painting as two separate images and blend them into one image in post production.

The most important key to blending images is to use a sturdy tripod – this provides images that register and align without any changes in perspective.  I positioned the tripod at the center of the painting, and raised it as high as it would go. I noticed that the painting was leaning at a different angle than the back of my camera, so I made a note to also adjust the perspective of the final image. I chose not to move the painting at all.

I positioned two monolights, each one high on a light stand on either side of the camera, about 10′ away from the camera. Each light had a 7″ reflector and cast a bright glare on its respective side of the image. In my test shots I could see that the placement was correct for the effect I wanted. I was getting a clean shot of each half of the image. With the lights set at equal power, I shot two frames, each with only one light firing.

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With one light firing from the left, its reflection appears in the upper quadrant of the painting, but the part I plan to use is the right half.
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The light on the right gives clear color, and very little reflection on the left half of the image. I knew had the pieces I needed to make a complete image.

Before moving anything, I also positioned Tom to one side of the painting, put a softbox on one of the lights, moved it closer to Tom and took an additional photo with him standing next to the painting. This would give me an additional frame for blending.

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The only part of this image I cared about was the section outside of the edge of the painting where Tom is standing. The softbox is visible in the upper left part of the image.

That was it for the camera – half of my capture was done. I brought the images into Photoshop and put each of them in a layer. With simple layer masking I was able to blend the two images of the painting with very little effort. An additional layer mask allowed me to include Tom in the photo, as seen below.

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The final image, the result of a planned composite of three images.

In this result, the colors of the painting are reproduced accurately and as vibrant as the original. Including Tom in the image gives the viewer immediate information about the size of this painting.

I spent about 5 minutes planning my approach. The setup time was about 10 minutes, shooting took about 5 minutes and the post production work was an additional 10 minutes.

This is a similar technique to the way I’ve made many real estate photographs, where the lighting gear is best located within the image and removed later in a blended image.

Here is another example of this technique. I wanted a tight grid light on Jen, but also wanted to include a large part of the empty room. The light needed to be fairly close to her, so I chose to shoot an image with the light stand in the image and remove it by blending two images. (These photos were taken at the old rail yard buildings in downtown Sacramento prior to reconstruction.)

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The light stand is visible in this frame.
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One ambient-light image with the light stand removed.
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The final image – no light stand visible.

When a photographer appropriately plans to use editing software as part of the image-making process, the resulting photo can be made quickly and easily, without loss of detail.

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Gear review: Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

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Olympus recently released its second PRO level lens: the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO zoom lens

12-26-2014

Note: This review is written as a casual review based on user experiences. I don’t intend to provide a calibrated, scientific description of this lens.

In 2014, Olympus came through on their promise to bring a second PRO-version zoom lens to market. After the heralded debut of the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens late in 2013, the natural companion lens, the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO zoom lens began shipping in November.

This 40-150mm zoom lens (hereafter called the “40-150”) has all the engineering and design aspects of its older sibling. Made with polished black metal and high-grade plastics, the 40-150 feels solid and well-balanced in hand. The zoom and focus rings are dampened and turn smoothly without play. The focus ring features the manual focus clutch that’s also seen on the 12-40 lens – with a simple snap backwards the lens shifts into manual focus mode and reveals a distance scale. The manual focus ring has stops at both ends and the focus throw is a bit short. Push the focus ring forward to return to auto focus mode.

The lens remains at one physical length while focusing and zooming; both functions are internal movements and do not extend the length of the lens.

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The earlier 40-150mm R f/4-5.6 lens (left) in less than half the size and weight of the new 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens (right).

Weather sealing is part of the design, providing splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof protection.

The included (Yes!) lens hood has a very unique design to it. Rather than deal with the usual clumsy method of twisting, removing, turning around and remounting the lens shade, the shade on the 40-150 stays attached and simply retracts backward until the front of the shade is even with the front of the lens. The lens shade can be removed completely, if desired. This is a very simple and convenient way to store a lens shade.

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Mounted on an Olympus E-M1, the lens hood has been removed. The tripod collar mount on the lens is in use here.
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The lens hood is attached and extended in this image.
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When retracted, the front of the lens hood aligns with the front of the lens. Very clever design feature.

Wouldn’t it be great if Olympus offered a retro-fit lens shade like this for the 12-40mm PRO lens?

The maximum aperture of this lens is a constant f/2.8 and the 40-150mm range provides a 35mm equivalent field of view of 80-300mm. Coupled with the Olympus in-body image stabilization, this lens is comparable to the ubiquitous “70-200 f/2.8 IS/VR” lens genre that is popular among DSLR crowds. One distinction of this Olympus version is the relatively smaller size and weight compared to the full frame tribes. The Olympus 40-150 weighs just under 2 pounds (with the tripod collar included) and measures about 6 1/4″ in length and 3″ diameter. The filter size is 72mm. This lens is definitely larger than other Micro 4/3 lenses and approaches the limits of satisfying the “small/light” aspect that attracts many users to M4/3 systems.

The 40-150 lens is constructed of 16 elements in 10 groups, with one aspherical ED lens, and two aspherical lenses.

In use, the lens complements the Olympus OMD E-M1 body nicely. When attached to the E-M5 or E-M10 body, the lens dominates the presence of the camera in the hands. Adding an accessory grip to either of these bodies will provide a more secure way to hold onto the rig. I don’t have any of the Olympus PEN cameras, but I expect this lens would overpower those smaller bodies.

The auto focus is extremely fast and silent. So fast, I needed to perform a couple of deliberate focusing moves to confirm that it was actually operating. I had previously upgraded the E-M1 firmware to version 2.2; this version reportedly supports improved auto-focusing for the 40-150 lens. It was a bit of a surprise to see how closely this lens can focus on a subject. The lens specs list this distance at 27.5 inches and this allows for some near-macro effects. (The 12-40mm PRO lens also features a very close focus range, apparently another family trait.)

Image quality of the 40-150 lens is excellent, even at wide-open. The image acceptably holds its sharpness into the corners of the frame. When used for portraiture at a wide aperture, the out of focus areas in the background look smooth and soft. With the smaller M4/3 sensor, the depth of field at the widest aperture is not razor thin; it shows a bit more sharpness than a larger sensor would display.

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I used the lens for an editorial assignment the day after it arrived. ISO 100, 1/125, f/3.5 @100mm
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ISO200, f/2.8 1/1600 @150mm, handheld about 3′ away from flower
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100% crop from above image.
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ISO400, 1/1250, f/2.8 @82mm
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ISO400, 1/1600, f/4.5 @150mm handheld
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100% crop from above image.
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ISO100, 3.2 seconds, f/11, @70mm on tripod

Overall, the Olympus 40-150mm PRO lens delivers as promised. When paired with the 12-40mm PRO lens, a photographer can have a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture spanning across an effective field of view of 24-300mm.

Many comments on discussions forums raise the question, “With these two lenses, how much will you use your fast prime lenses?”

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Road-tripping in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains

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In Hope Valley, California, the fall colors were in full effect.

10-27-2014

Last week Laura and I took a road trip along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We packed up our pickup truck with warm blankets, clothes, food and camera gear; we also tossed in our dog, Pepper, for good measure. This was our first chance to try out “RV-ing” with our little camper shell.

My camera gear was pretty minimal. I brought one camera body, an Olympus OMD E-M1 with three lenses: Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro, and Olympus 75-300mm II f/4.8-6.7 zoom lens. I packed a small carbon fiber tripod but never used it. The in-body image stabilization of the OMD cameras is very good, and I never encountered a time when I felt I needed the tripod. I even took some shots hand-held at 1/4 second that came out very sharp!

Laura used a Canon T4i with a Sigma 18-200mm stabilized zoom lens.

The first day was our travel day from Lincoln to the Highway 395 corridor. Our route took us up Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe and we headed southeast over a couple of high elevation passes to get to HWY395. We reached 8,300 feet on Monitor Pass and the breathtaking views opened up as we crested the top.

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The expansive view of the Eastern Sierra after crossing over Monitor Pass.

We spent our first night at the Topaz Lodge & Casino at Topaz Lake just across the Nevada border. The next morning we began our southbound journey down Highway 395.

The fall colors were in various stages of progress. Some trees were bare, presumably stripped by the high winds frequenting the area. Some were still green, with the rest showing yellow, orange and red colors. The contrast of the vibrant colors against the stark rocky terrain provided some compelling visuals.

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Along HWY 395 south of Bridgeport, the trees were in various stages of change.

Our first stop was the ghost town, Bodie. Bodie is a California State Park that consists of dozens of buildings from the gold rush era. If you look through the windows of some buildings, you can see old furniture, appliances, toys, bottles, and sundry items on the shelves.

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The historic town of Bodie sits at 8,375′ elevation.
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The former Post Office (left) and the I.O.O.F. hall (right).
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This rusty car is probably one of the most photographed relics at Bodie.
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One of the many residences at Bodie, this one has a partial vehicle in front.
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Looking through the windows of the Boone Store, many of the furnishings and products are still in place.
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Laura and Pepper take a break in the shade.
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The cemetery above the town tells many of the stories of hardship during the heyday of Bodie.

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After visiting Bodie, we set up camp for our first night of RV life. We stayed at an RV park outside of Bridgeport, along the Bridgeport Lake. With the severe drought, we could see where the lake was supposed to be. We had a great view of the area and we managed to sleep through a very cold night. The rear window of the camper was frosted over by morning, and Pepper had a nice chunk of ice in her water bowl.

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The accommodations were minimal, but for $23, the view was unbeatable. The lake levels would normally reach the area just beyond our campsite.

On our third day, we visited Mono Lake. Mono Lake is considered an oasis in the desert, although the high salinity content of the water makes it undrinkable. No fish live in the lake, either. It is home to nearly two million migratory birds who feed on the brine shrimp in the waters. Large tufa towers, a form of limestone, rise above the waterline and provide an eery and dramatic texture to the view of the lake.

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Tufa towers rise out of the waters at Mono Lake.
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The South Tufa are the most accessible in the area.
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More views at the South Tufa location.
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A circular polarizing filter increases the contrast in the tufa and the clouds.

This is also the part of the trip where we began to see the most fall colors. The June Lake Loop (Highway 158) is located off HWY 395 between Mono Lake and Mammoth Lakes. We followed the 16-mile loop and saw lots of colors. I made a mental note to return to this area before we left for home.

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The fall colors along the June Lake Loop were at their peak. I knew I wanted to return to this area when we had more time.

We spent the third night at a hotel in Mammoth Lakes. After the freezing encounter the previous night, we wanted a place that included a hot shower. It also provided a place to watch the third game of the World Series. (Torture)

On our fourth day, we headed toward the city of Bishop. We knew we would be in a warmer part of the region so we searched for an RV park in Bishop. We wanted to balance out the other “RV-night” with something more pleasant and comfortable. The forecast for the overnight low was around 44°, so we were pretty happy with that.

Brown’s Town is a very nice campground-like RV park on the south end of town. They have several historic dioramas at the front of the park that have artifacts on display inside small buildings. Bathrooms and showers were available in the park. The general store sells basic items along with snacks, scooped ice cream and homemade pies. Now we were really roughing it!

Before setting up camp for the night, we drove south about 60 miles to Lone Pine. We were hoping to get a good look at Mt. Whitney, but the area had some smoky haze so the mountains were difficult to see. We had a great lunch at a Lone Pine main street cafe and returned to Bishop.

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I took this photo from our truck, moving at 65 MPH along the highway near Bishop. (Laura was driving.)
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Another photo taken from a moving vehicle. This was just north of Bishop.
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Our view of the sunset from our truck at the RV park in Bishop.

On Friday, we began our journey home. We planned to drive north up HWY 395 and spend the night near Minden, NV. Along the way we returned to the June Lake Loop and captured some amazing fall colors.

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A meadow next to Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop.
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Looking across Silver Lake.
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The wind was blowing strong that day, but the view along Rush Creek (near Silver Lake) was spectacular.
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Rush Creek colors, above and below (circular polarizing filter set at 3/4 strength).

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The weather was changing on Friday, with very strong winds and a forecast of rain on Saturday. We stayed the night at a motel in Carson City, NV and drove home in gusty winds and rain on Saturday.

Overall, the trip was a great success. We lucked our way into the best time to see fall colors in the Eastern Sierra and had great weather along the way. We worked out the bugs in our first RV experience in our camper and look forward to more trips like this one.

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Olympus 25mm lens: the new Normal

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The Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens is the new Normal lens.

 

09-25-2014

When I bought my first single lens reflex (SLR) camera in 1974, it came with a 50mm lens. This lens was often referred to as a “normal” lens because its focal length closely mimics the field of view of the human eye. Lenses with a focal length shorter than 35mm were considered “wide angle” lenses and those with focal lengths longer than 100mm were known as “telephoto” lenses. Zoom lenses were rare, expensive and considered to be inferior quality because of the additional glass elements.

I should also mention this was at a time well before an auto-focus lens was considered viable.

During this same time, Olympus introduced its OM-1 SLR 35mm film camera. This camera was primarily touted for its compact size.

Fast forward to the 21st century and we still try to reconcile the technology of film cameras with digital photography. With the advent of crop-sensor digital SLR cameras, the concept of lens focal length gets more confusing, requiring some quick multiplication with “crop factors” like 1.5 (Nikon) or 1.6 (Canon). As an example, a 50mm lens on a full frame camera is considered a normal lens, but that same lens mounted on a crop-sensor camera would result in a field of view more like a 75-80mm lens.

Adding to the crop-sensor arena, the Micro Four Thirds (M4/3) format was introduced in 2008. The M4/3 sensor is approximately one-half the diagonal measurement of a full frame sensor. Conveniently for the math-challenged, the crop-factor is 2, meaning a 50mm lens would have the field of view of a 100mm lens on a full frame camera.

Olympus entered the M4/3 market with a line of Pen cameras and in 2012 released its OMD E-M5 DSLR camera. This camera has retro designs that harken back to the original OM-1 camera, including the more compact body size. Recently Olympus completed the retro package when it introduced the 25mm f/1.8 lens for M4/3. This 25mm lens is my  new Normal lens.

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The Olympus OM1 (left) and the OMD E-M5 DSLR (right) share a similar design style.

When the E-M5 and 25mm lens are positioned next to the original OM-1 with 50mm lens, it is apparent how retro the E-M5 is. It is also interesting to note how small the OM-1 really was; it is only slightly larger than the E-M5.

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Head to head – the OM-1 camera was a small camera for its time, and is only slightly larger than the current E-M5.

The Olympus 25mm lens is small and light. It balances well when mounted on the E-M5 camera body. With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, it offers some very good low light capabilities. The construction of the lens is very solid. When using manual focus, the focus ring in well-dampened and smooth.

I put the lens on my silver E-M5 camera and headed out for a walk. I immediately felt like I was 17 again, the my brand-spanking-new fancy pants camera. The “normal” field of view was vaguely familiar, having many years of many different lenses since then to cloud my memory.

The lens focuses very quickly and quietly. Even at its widest aperture, the image area from edge to edge is sharp. The depth of field is not as shallow as its ancestors, due to the smaller sensor size. However, the 25mm lens does a great job at softening the background when used in the right conditions.

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The Olympus 50mm lens on an E-M5 body. The metal lens hood doubles as a filter adapter, stepping up from 46mm to 52mm filter size.
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I took a walk through a vintage mall. It seemed like the perfect location to take some retro-themed photos.
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A former fruit-packing facility has been converted into an artist’s haven.

 

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Plenty of soft-focus available at f/1.8.
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This person died 97 years before JFK.
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The normal field of view.
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Making room for new development.
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A new US Bank building stands above Capitol Mall.
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Bird’s eye view.

P2180009– + –

 

Dam drought

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Normally underwater, this area of Folsom Lake is dry due to the drought conditions in California

01-03-2014

California is facing serious drought issues; rainfall is significantly below annual averages. With such little rain and snow over the last 12 months, the water levels at Folsom Lake have been dropping to historic low levels. The levels are low enough to generate new nicknames for this water recreation area: “Folsom Creek” and “Folsom Pond” are a couple of examples.

Laura and I, along with our two dogs, spent the afternoon checking out the new shorelines at Folsom Lake. We entered the lake area at the Browns Ravine gate. I was a bit surprised at the line of cars waiting to pay the $12 State Parks Day Use Fee. Apparently the media coverage of the low lake levels has inspired lots of like-minded visitors.

The big attraction at the Browns Ravine area is the exposure of the remnants of Mormon Island, a small town that had its heyday during the Gold Rush. Mormon Island (which is not an island) was covered up with water when the Folsom Dam was completed in 1955. The low water levels have given unusual access to amateur archeologists to poke around some of the ruins.

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The hike from the parking lot to Mormon Island is about one and half miles.
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Hundreds of tree stumps are seeing sunlight after 50 years.

Mormon Island is about a 1.5 mile walk from the parking area. The area was pretty crowded with families, dogs, strollers and mountain bikes. The pilgrimage out to the ruins was a bit surreal; it reminded me of a spiritual migration. Some building foundations were still visible, along with the remnants of an old access road. Apparently, the main part of the town is still under water, farther out from the dry sections.

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An old boat motor lays on dry ground.
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Visitors check out the foundations of some structures of Mormon Island.
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Lake water levels are below the levels of drought year 1976-77.
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Looking back toward El Dorado Hills, Mormon Island is getting well-inspected.

After spending some time near the ruins, we drove around to the other side of Folsom Dam to the Beals Point area. (The Day Use Fee allows access to all areas of Folsom Lake on the same day.) Beals Point features a campground and beach area. Well, a beach area when there’s water around. Not this year, though.

The Beals Point area was very quiet with very few people. The terrain was different from Browns Ravine, almost lunar-like in places. Most interesting to me was the view of the Folsom Dam. It was eerie to see how low the water level was on the wet side of the dam, exposing parts of the structure not normally visible. It felt rather dystopic, like we were wandering around after a massive catastrophe. Laura commented that she felt that at any time a wall of water would appear and submerge everything again.

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The view of Folsom Lake from Beals Point.
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The terrain appears moon-like.
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Two people walk along the new shoreline at Folsom Lake. El Dorado Hills is in the background.
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Looking back up toward the parking area of Beals Point – this is normally underwater.
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The water cannot reach the eight spillways on the dam. The three vertical tubes are intakes for the hydroelectric operations of the dam.
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Lots of fishing lures are probably hiding in those rocks.
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Some remnants of structure are exposed for the first time in decades.

I remembered a visit to Folsom Dam in the mid-1970’s when several of us photographers were given an inside tour of Folsom Dam. Since this was pre-9/11, access was much more generous. I’m sure now it would be considered a national security risk to allow people to wander around the bowels of a dam and take photographs.

We visited the control room, walked around the inside and outside of the generating building and had access to the inside of the dam structure. One of the generating turbines was shut down for maintenance and we were allowed to walk around the inside of the water tube. One of the dam workers thought it would be funny to drop a large piece of lumber inside the tube. The explosive sound and persistent echo was startling. Even though the tube was dry, I think some of us left some moisture behind. He was the only guy laughing, if I recall correctly. Dam worker.

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During the mid-1970’s, I was able to tour the inside of Folsom Dam. This is the turbine room with the three hydroelectric turbines.
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The control room inside Folsom Dam (c. 1975).
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These water tubes supply water to the turbines for generating power.
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Looking down the outlet side of the dam.
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Inside the bowels of the dam…

If the water levels continue to drop, I plan to revisit the area and take more photos. As more parts of the dam are exposed, we will have the opportunity to see things that were never expected to be visible again.

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2013 – Looking back over the last 12 months

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The sun sets on another year. (Lincoln countryside)

12-27-2013

This has been a great year, one filled with changes, growth and plenty of fun.

The year started with relocation – Laura and I moved to Lincoln, California. While Lincoln is not far from Sacramento, it has a very different feel. With a population of 44,000 people, Lincoln offers a quieter and slower-paced lifestyle. Local businesses are very friendly and comfortable. People regularly say “Hello” on the sidewalks and I’ve seen numerous examples of the community coming together to help a neighbor who may struggling with one of life’s challenges.

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Downtown Lincoln has a small-town feel.
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The benches offer a place to sit and visit with neighbors.
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A local resident parks his classic car in front of the Carnegie Library building.

One of the hurdles of moving was establishing my photo business in our new location. After living in Sacramento for almost 50 years, I knew it would be important to make new connections in Lincoln. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce and Art League were the first steps; both of these organizations were very welcoming and open to new members. We immediately met some friendly and supportive people and began making connections to others.

Before we moved to Lincoln, I tried to research information about Lincoln and noticed a dearth of information about the town, its traditions and events. I realized there was likely an unmet need for local news, so I launched “LIFE in Lincoln,” a feature-news website. I figured this would be a great way to learn more about the town and gain some exposure to the locals at the same time. I asked around about interesting events and people, interviewed them and took their photos and posted stories. I was a bit surprised at the response. In 2013, LIFE in Lincoln had 3,575 unique visitors and 7,410 pageviews. I consider that a big accomplishment for the first year.

In addition to the exposure provided by the site, I had the greater pleasure of learning more about the people of Lincoln. Some examples:

Fortunately, the move to Lincoln did not disrupt my current photography business in Sacramento. I had the pleasure of working some new clients in 2013, including KB Homes, Range of Light, Motel 6 and Hill Physicians. I also enjoyed shooting again for many regular clients, some of whom have been working with me for several years.

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The 4th of July parade in downtown Lincoln.
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Fireworks fill the sky over the crowd at the local park.

After teaching photo classes at the Learning Exchange for four years, I decided it was time to pass it on to someone else. I’ve meet over 1,000 students in these classes and teaching has been very rewarding. The additional miles of driving began to wear on me, plus I’m really compelled to begin teaching photo classes in Lincoln.

Some personal projects also kept me busy this year. I helped a friend convert a few hundred 35mm color slides to digital files. These were photos he took as a young man in the service in the 60’s. It was fun to hear his reactions when he saw the images of old friends and family members. Some of these images looked better after digital enhancement than they did as the original slides. I also had the honor of hanging some of my photographic art in art shows and coffee shops. With all the digital viewing methods available, sometimes a framed print is still the most enjoyable to look at.

In the category of photo gear, this was also a year of changes. I downsized, both in the quantity of equipment and the footprint as well. I noticed a growing accumulation of camera gear and decided I needed to lighten my load. I sold off most of it and in doing so, I’ve also moved over to a new system of cameras. These cameras offer excellent image quality in a smaller and lighter design. I’m really enjoying the freedom and fun in shooting with less clutter, both in my hands and in my head.

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New camera (left) is smaller and lighter than the former gear (right).

I’m looking forward to 2014 – every year is better than the last. Happy New Year!

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Give me three feet or give me death

 

At 40 MPH, three feet is not a lot of room.

09-24-2013

Well, maybe there is no need for such drama.

I took this photo five years ago as a personal assignment. I wanted to illustrate how it feels to ride a bicycle on a busy city street.

The California Bicycle Coalition asked if they could use the photo as part of their campaign to pass a law requiring drivers to give bicyclists three feet of space on a roadway. Of course, I agreed.

This week Governor Jerry Brown just signed the “three-foot” legislation, Assembly Bill 1371. The bill is not heavy-handed; it has a base fine of $35. I’m also guessing that most drivers won’t change much of their behavior because of AB1371. After all, we’ve had laws on the books for decades about stopping at a stop sign, yielding right of way to pedestrians and, more recently, no texting while driving. If you look around, you’ll notice that these laws aren’t always followed by some drivers either.

At least there’s a law now.

If you’re interested in knowing how this photo was taken, it was pretty simple. I modified a shelf bracket to mount a small DSLR camera onto the rear axle of my bicycle. I used a 10-20mm lens for a very wide perspective, set the shutter speed to 1/30 second for some blur effects, and used a small radio remote to fire the camera while I navigated in traffic. After about 250 shots, I found at least one good one (above).

 

I mounted my DSLR camera to the bike frame with a modified shelf bracket and a ball head.

 

I used some safety cables to keep the camera from bouncing down the street. It never came loose.

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