Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 A Year in Review

For me 2012 was the best year I have had in a very long time. Although the year was full of ups and downs, the downs were not as low as they have been in the past and the ups were way higher. 2012 was a year where I learned to use rudder and sail to steer my course rather than just being blown around by the wind. Of course I mean that as a metaphor because I don't know how to sail. It's good to set goals for a year and then break those goals down into the months, weeks and days. I started by setting a 5 year goal and then worked out what I needed to do to get there. I firstly needed to find ways to cut my monthly expenses and I achieved that by trading in my truck for an economy car. This reduced my monthly car payments by $200 and also reduced my fuel expense by $80 per month. An added bonus of reducing my auto insurance of $30 per month was unexpected but greatly appreciated. So now I have reduced my monthly expenses by $310/month and I have a nice new car as well. I also decided to cut back on my cable bill by removing channels I don't need. Mind you I don't have time for TV anymore. It's amazing how much stress relief comes with freeing up all that extra cash. 

In Feb of 2012 I took the plunge deeper into photography by purchasing my first DSLR. Oh how I love photography. For years I felt something was missing in my life and I tried filling that hole with so many things but nothing worked. Nothing, until photography entered my world. I have an untold amount of gratitude to my wonderful friend +Karl Stevens  for recognizing my ability and doing what he could to nurture it. I have taken some photos in 2012 that I am very proud of. Proud mainly because this is my first real year as an amateur photographer and I am confident my work will get better still. I look at photography as an art form and create artistic photos. Using this method has opened my eyes to a new approach on life. Anyone can take a photo but to take a great photo requires planning and work. Same as life. Anyone can live a life but to have a great life it requires planning and work. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it. With photography, as in life, you can never stop learning. If you do, if you think you know it all, you will stop moving forward and eventually get left behind.

Veritas Vos Liberabit


  This photo was taken in March of 2012 and in my mind still rates as one of the best I have taken to date. It was a very cold night at -30C. Steam was rising from the river which made it very difficult to see. I had a rickety cheap tripod at this time and was fumbling on a steep river bank to set up my camera. I got lucky as much of the mist cleared and the bridge became visible. My viewfinder was fogged up from my breath so I took the shot mainly on what I thought I saw.

Amber Astotin
  As the year progressed I began experimenting with using photoshop. I had made many attempts and combining a photo with a texture layer but I had been very dissatisfied with the results. It wasn't till August when I managed to get a result that I was very happy with. I took a photo at Elk Island Park with +Karl Stevens of Lake Astotin at night. In the photo there was the glow of our home city in the distance. In processing the photo I added a texture layer of a marble floor tile that I had converted to black and white. The final result gave the photo the look of a forest fire in the distance. The night had dark clear skies and as a result the stars were visible over the glow of the distant city. 

 In 2012 +Karl Stevens and I also started a Google+ page dedicated to photographers living in and around the Edmonton area. We founded +Edmonton Photographers and began meeting a group of wonderful people. To this date we have held 6 photowalks and have met some very talented amateur  photographers and a few professionals. On one of those photowalks I managed to capture a set of photos that I stitched together to make a panorama. I then blended in a texture layer of fire. Creating an image that is one of my personal favorites. 
Painted With Fire
 The photowalks have given me to opportunity to make some new friends. +Sharon Morsink, +Justin Wondga, and +Stephen Paskaluk to name a few. In meeting these new friends I have had a chance to experiment with equipment that I don't own. Most significantly +Stephen Paskaluk let me borrow his speed light which gave me the opportunity to experiment with photographing smoke. In the span of a few nights I filled my memory card over 4 times. With so much experimenting I was able to develop a good process for photographing smoke and wrote up a tutorial about it. Tutorial

Spirit Wheel

 With so many images of smoke on my computer hard drive it didn't take me long to start experimenting with them. I discovered an interesting technique and began experimenting with it. The results were rather interesting and upon sharing the resulting image on social media sites I began getting questions as to how I was able to do that. Again I took the time to make up another tutorial. Tutorial

 2012 had definitely been a good year for me. Photography has taught me so much and it's not all about taking pictures. If you would like to make changes in your life to makes things better then here is my advice to you. Treat your life like a business manager would treat a business. Start off your year with a long term goal. Usually 5 years. Then break that goal down into significant achievements that you need to accomplish for each of the years. This basically takes your big goal and breaks it down into steps that you need to take to get there. Establish time lines and a budget. After each year it is important to do a review of that year. As I am doing now. By putting that into a document you can visually see the steps your are taking to achieve your goal. After your yearly recap you then need to sit down and establish your goals for the next year. If the previous year did not go as you planned you may have to make adjustments in the upcoming year. If you are finding that you are having difficulty meeting the financial requirements for your goals you need to do what any good business manager would do. Cut back on the non-essentials. This means taking control of your spending. What it comes down to is asking yourself this question all the time, "Is buying this going to help me achieve my goals?"  When you can do that and make the hard choices you will take control of your life and your future. 

Success = work 
Failure = lazy 

 I have lived most of my life being lazy and have finally learned what I need to do to succeed.  I haven't succeeded yet. I still have 4 years left on my plan but I know I am on the right path. I hope that by sharing this I can help you find your right path. 

Best of luck to everyone in 2013. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Smoke Flower - A tutorial

I received some requests asking how I made the smoke flower after I shared it on various sites so I decided to make a tutorial showing how.  If you would like to know how to photograph smoke please visit my earlier blog post:

This tutorial will start at the point were the photo has already been taken and processed using photoshop. This is the image that we will be working with.  It has been rotated and cropped. If you wish to download this image and try this for yourself it's available for free download at:

After loading the image into photoshop click on File/New and create a new photoshop image the same size as the smoke image. Now on the new image click Layer/New/Layer and click ok. This will create a new layer called Layer 1. Select Layer 1 and click on Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object. This will make Layer 1 a smart object. Double click on the Layer 1 thumbnail. This will open up Layer 1. If you have never done this before a pop-up window will tell you about saving. Just click ok. Switch to the smoke image and select the rectangular marquee tool. Use the marquee tool to select all of the smoke image. Click Edit/Copy then switch to Layer 1.psb. Click Edit/Paste and the smoke will be pasted into this layer. Press Ctrl-T, this will put you in free transform mode and reduce the size by 30%.
Adjust the W: and the H: to 30%.  Then press the check mark. Select the move tool and move the image over to the right size of the work space. Now change the blending mode of the layer to screen.
With the blending mode on screen any part of the layer that is black now becomes transparent. However, one thing to keep in mind is that anything that is light in the image will become lighter so you may have to darken areas later on. Also if you are attempting to do this with an image that you want the black to show it will not work using screen. At this point we are going to start creating duplicate layers that are in different positions. To do this press Ctrl-Alt-T. This is similar to what we used earlier to make the smoke smaller but by adding Ctrl we are making another layer. When the transform box comes up you will notice a little x in the middle of it (highlighted in the next image with a red circle). Move that x to the far left in the center where you see an adjusting square. That x is what determines the rotation point of the layer. Change the angle in the transform box to 45 degrees then click the check mark. Your new layer should rotate 45 degrees down. After that you can now press Shift-Ctrl-Alt-T and that will repeat that layer. Press Shift-Ctrl-Alt-T 6 times to complete a full circle. After doing this you can close Layer 1.psb. Photoshop will ask if you want to save this layer. Say yes. Go to your new document and you will see your flower on a white background. Use the paint bucket to fill the background layer black, Click Layer/Flatten Image, Crop off any excess and you are done.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you have any questions feel free to ask. I do not use a Mac so I am not familiar with any of the keyboard shortcuts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Process Smoke Photo - Tutorial

This is a tutorial for taking photos of smoke and how to process them.

The setup:

For the sake of this tutorial I am going to assume that you have a DSLR. For best results you will need an off camera flash, a reflector, a black background and a tripod. Set your camera up on the tripod. I use incense to create my smoke. Use one stick for thin fine smoke. If you want your smoke to be heavier or swirly use two sticks of incense at the same time. If you want to make very dense smoke then you need to get a bit creative. What I did for the example that I am going to use is cut the bottom off of a pop bottle and remove the lid. Then I took a metal coat hanger and bent it into a circle to make a base and then have it go up and attach it to the pop bottle using tape. The idea here is to elevate the pop bottle over the two sticks of incense. This will result in smoke building up inside the bottle then coming out the top. It works like a chimney. You can cover the top of the bottle with your hand for awhile to allow the smoke to build up. I usually set this up on top of a few boxes. I then position the boxes between the camera and the black background. Keep in mind that you want the distance between the incense and the background to be double the distance between the incense and the camera. Now position your flash on one side of the incense and the reflector on the other. Two key points with the flash. Ensure it's not hitting your background and it's not hitting your camera. Make sure your camera's view only has smoke and background in it. Auto focus on the bottle then switch to manual focus.

Camera settings:

I use a Nikon d300 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I find I get the best results shooting at f/8. Set your camera to aperture priority at f/8. I use auto white balance. Set your camera to save the images in raw format. From here you kinda have to play around depending on the power of your flash and then lens that you are using. Your flash power needs to be enough to light up the smoke but not too bright as to over expose it. Most dslr's have a histogram an you can use it to determine if your shot's are over exposed. This step is mostly trial and error. Be patient and try different things. You may have to move your flash closer or farther away. You might have to move your camera as well.


Raw File
After you transfer your raw files to your computer you can open in photoshop. I use open as smart object. This is what my raw image looked like. From here I begin editing the camera raw settings. Now this will vary from image to image but here are the settings I used for this particular photo.

One thing about these settings that I don't normally adjust is the white balance. However, you can and if you do you will notice how the color of the image changes. If you switch it to flash the smoke with be more white. I like to leave it because I like the blue hue that the flash creates if it's just left as shot. If you want to add color to the photo later you can switch to flash here or use the method I will explain later. Keep a close eye on the histogram while making adjustments here. You don't want high levels on the right. This results in too much white and overexposure. White is bad with smoke especially if you want to add color because the white will stay white and not take on any color. I know that sounds strange but even though we think of all smoke as white it really isn't. It is some degree of grey. I brought up the exposure because my flash was set low. I then added fill light to ensure that all the smoke was visible. I increase the blacks in order to fill out the background. I find it makes it cleaner and crisper. I bump up the contrast but you really need to be careful here because too much contrast will cause over exposure. I then add clarity to make the smoke look more crisp.

To the left is my histogram from camera raw. You will notice there are no high levels on the right. The high levels on the left indicate the black from the background. Now click on ok and we are ready to proceed to the next steps.

Once the file is opened in photoshop as a smart object the next step is duplicate layer. After you duplicate the layer change the blending mode for the new layer to multiply. This will make the image much darker but we will fix that.

Now select Image/Adjustments/Shadows/Highlights. Under the shadows increase the amount to 100% and the tonal width to 60%. Leave everything else as is and click ok. You will notice the image is a bit lighter but still probably not enough.

Now click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Curves. This will bring up a curve tab. You can adjust how bright or dark your image is here. By bending the curve up and to the left it will get lighter or down and to the right it will get darker. Again this will vary depending on your results but here is the curve I used.

Your next step is to add contrast. Contrast really makes or breaks your smoke images. I find that there is a fine line between too much and not enough and figuring out what works best takes a great deal of experimenting. Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Levels. This brings up the levels tab. There are various ways of making adjustments here but the ones I prefer are the 3 tabs underneath the histogram. The left one is black, the middle is grey and the right one is white. As you can see for this image I adjusted the black slider slightly to the right. Keep in mind that when you move one slider it is probably going to move the others as well. I also moved the grey slider slightly to the right and the white slider I moved a bit to the left. As you move these sliders you will see immediately  how it changes your image. Again each image is going to be different and it takes experimentation to get it just right.When you are done click Layer/Flatten Image.

That about covers the main process that I use for smoke and here is my results. It's a significant difference from the original raw file and no color was added. The blue that is in the smoke is from the flash. If you leave the white balance settings on your camera at auto and you don't change the white balance in camera raw you will get blue smoke every time. Now what do you do if you don't want your smoke to be blue? Well what I do instead of changing the white balance is a create a new layer. Click Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Black & White. The black and white adjustment window will pop up and I usually just click on auto. This will convert your smoke to a nice grey scale. From here you can click on Layer/New. Change the blending mode of this new layer to overlay. Now either paint color or use the gradient tool or whatever method you like to add color.

Want to put your new smoke onto another image. Easy. Use the selection tool to select the part you want to use. Edit/Copy. Then paste it onto another image. It will show up as a layer. Change the blending mode to screen and that will make all the black go away and you are off and running.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I hope it helps you with creating beautiful smoke images. I would love to hear your comments and I would especially like to see the images you created using this tutorial. So feel free to leave comments and links to your images.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Buffalo Trail - A HDR tutorial

Buffalo Trail

Lake Tawayik
In this post I am going to share my process for making the above image (Click on any image on this page to enlarge it).

In order to do that I first need to set the scene. The day was fairly overcast but there were many breaks in the clouds. There were spots of blue sky and there were spots of storm clouds. I really good mix in the sky. I was at work and when I looked outside I kept saying to myself that I hope this sky will hold till sunset. I find that sunsets have more impact when the clouds are scattered and broken up. The sun was supposed to set at 9:45 so I planned to be at the site for 8:30. I wanted to be at Elk Island Park over one hour early because I wasn't familiar with the area so I needed to have time to find a good spot. After parking the truck at 8:30 it took about 30 minutes to walk to the south east side of the lake. This gave me about 45 minutes to pick a good spot. This became rather difficult. Much of the brush was high. Too high even for my tripod. Getting close to the water was not possible. I wasn't able to walk into the marsh without having hip waders which I don't own. I managed to find a ridge that got me high enough to get the lake in with the sunset in the background (Lake Tawayik). After the sun went down I started walking back towards the truck. The walk consisted of walking on a trail in the marsh that was made by buffalo. Walking on that trail I noticed the sky change to a strong pink hue. I decided to find a spot to set up the tripod and take some more shots. Again I had to find a spot that was a bit higher up because there was tall grass along the trail. So now I will start getting into the details for shooting and processing Buffalo Trail.

The sky was still pretty amazing so I wanted to get as much sky in the shot as I could. I also wanted some foreground element and the nice reflections in the lake. DEW5571 shows you how I framed the shot. I am shooting with a Nikon d300 and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. My tripod is an Induro Adventure AKB2. I did not use any filters for this shot. I always shoot in raw. The camera settings are as follows:

Aperture Priority
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/8
Exposure compensation: -0.7
Bracketing: 9 @ 1/3

With the Nikon my metering is set to matrix metering and my point of focus is the red square in DEW5571. I chose this point of focus for a few reasons. Firstly, it was far enough away that everything would be in focus at f/8. Secondly it is basically the midtone as far as the lighting in the scene. I then press my menu button on my Nikon. Select Interval Timer Shooting. Select Now. Put in a second value. I have been using 15 sec. Then 001 x 9 = 0009. Select On. Then press OK. This will fire off the 9 shots for the bracketing. Keep in mind this is only for certain models of Nikon's and does not apply to all. Some models are only capable of 3 image bracketing. Check your camera manual. Not all cameras have the interval timer built in either and these two options are the big reasons I chose the camera I did.

Now back at home I copy my images from my memory card onto my computer hard drive. Some people like to use import software but I guess I am old fashioned and I just copy and paste them into a folder of that days date. Once all the images are on my hard drive I then use the import function in Lightroom. I then select the images I want to use and export them using export options that convert the raw files to tiff with no compression. Once exported the tiff files are automatically opened in Photoshop. This is a setting I have turned on in the export options of Lightroom. I then use Noise Ninja to denoise each of the 9 images. I save each of the files as tiff with no compression. I like to denoise early in the process because when using HDR software noise can be amplified by the software.

I then open up Photomatix. Select Load Bracketed Photos. When the dialog opens select the tiff files. After selecting the images you will then get this dialog box (fig 1.0).

fig 2.0
I don't use any of the reduce ghosting or noise here because I take my photos on a tripod. If you use handheld bracketing you may want to select the reduce ghosting. I pretty much leave these settings the same all the time and they are set as you see them in fig 1.0. Once you click OK the software will begin to process the images you have selected. This can take some time depending on your computer and the size of the images. Once it completes you will see an image on the screen that to me typically just doesn't look right.
fig 3.0
 Well that is because you are not done. At this point you need to select Tone Mapping. Once you do you will be faced with many more options. I will be honest when I first started messing with this software I was rather confused by all the sliders and pull down menus. After a ton of messing around much of it started to make sense and it became easier to process my HDR's. You will see your image on the main screen. You will have your settings adjustments on the left (fig 2.0) and you will see a histogram floating about somewhere (fig 3.0). The histogram can be moved around. I put mine in the lower left so it sits right under fig 2.0. I used to just close it because I didn't know what it was for. Believe me when I say it is actually really important. When the luminance tab is selected on the histogram it basically gives you a report of the exposure levels. If too much black graph is on the left side of the histogram your resulting image will be too dark or have too much black. If there is too much on the right side then your image will be over exposed or have too much white. So when you adjust your settings in fig 2.0 you need to pay attention to how making changes there changes your histogram. The settings in fig 2.0 can get pretty complex but I have my preferred settings that I like to use. I almost always use the tone mapping process. Method is usually set to details enhancer. I typically have my strength set to 80. I used to use 100 but have since brought it down. This is a preference as is with all settings. Play with it to find what you like and establish your own style. Color saturation will vary from image to image. My typical range is from 60-80. It really depends how much color I want in the resulting image. You can also do black and white HDR by setting this to 0. Luminosity is almost always set to 0 and microcontrast to 8. Farther down you will notice gamma and it is usually at 1.10.  I skipped over some of the settings that are showing in fig 2.0 because they are more complicated and I will explain them in more detail. In the tone settings tab if you click it you will find settings for white point and black point as well as gamma. I use white point and black point to adjust my histogram. If you decrease these settings you will see on your histogram that the amount of white or black will change. In the above example you will see that fig 3.0 has very little white which is represented in the graph by the right side. Before adjusting the white point to 2.0 there was even less. Adjusting the white point up will amplify areas that are more exposed. What I mean is that of the 9 images that I put in at the beginning certain images are more exposed. By adjusting the white point you make your resulting image have more or less of those images that are more exposed. Inversely by adjusting the black point you are bringing more of the under exposed images into your resulting image. Your best bet is to have very little white and very little black. Adjust your sliders to make this happen and keep and eye on the histogram. Also as you make adjustments you will see changes in the resulting image. For Buffalo Trail the settings you see in fig 2.0 were used. One thing to note is that the preview image that you see isn't exactly what your resulting image will be. If you mouse over the preview image you will notice your mouse pointer will generate a box around it. If you then click on the preview image you will get a loupe window that pops up and that is a more accurate view of what your final result will be. Once satisfied with your settings click on process in the lower left corner. It will take a bit to process your image. Once it is complete click on file and select save as. I save my image as a jpg at this point.

fig 4.0
fig 5.0
I then open up Photoshop. I select File - Open As Smart Object. Then select the jpg I saved from Photomatix. Once it opens I select Layer - Duplicate Layer. I then change the layer mode to multiply (fig 4.0). After doing so I then select Image - Adjustments - Shadows/Highlights and make the adjustments shown in fig 5.0. After clicking OK you will notice your image gets much darker. This is ok because we brighten it up in the next step using an adjustment layer. This is basically the point where creativity really takes over and you have to know what you are hoping to accomplish. Much of which I have shared to this point I have learned from others that have shared their secrets. Trey Ratcliff and Genia Larionova have shared much and if you are on Google+ I highly recommend following them.

fig 6.0
So now we brighten up our image that we just darkened. I know that doesn't seem to make sense but hopefully I can explain why. Click on Layers - New Adjustment Layer - Curves. When you do a new box will open up. It will look something like fig 6.0. The box will have a faint histogram in the background and a line running across it. You can click on the line and while holding down the mouse button you will actually create a curve. While doing this you will notice that your image will get lighter or darker. If you pull the line up and to the left it will get brighter. In fig 6.0 you can see the original straight line and the curve that I created. You can also see a dot on the curve and that is where I clicked on it with the mouse pointer. You can click on multiple areas on the line and adjust in various directions. This is totally preference and is most likely going to be different depending on the image. When adjusting the curve you may notice that there are certain areas of your image that benefit from brightening and some that don't. What you can do is adjust the curve to brighten the areas to a level that you want. Then you mask out the stuff that you don't want lightened using a layer mask. This was a bit confusing to me at first but after watching a few videos on Youtube it became rather easy. You can also create multiple curve layers each with different adjustments and layer mask them accordingly.

fig 7.0
The next step basically puts in some contrast. It is also a layer that usually requires a layer mask. Especially if there are a large amount of clouds in your image. I find that too much contrast in clouds makes them look fake or just not good at all. Select Layers - New Adjustment Layer - Levels and you will get a new adjustment box open up. Again you will see a graph. Under the graph there are 3 pointers. You can slide those pointers and in doing so you will change the contrast of your image. Fig 7.0 shows the adjustments I made for Buffalo Trail and if you look under the levels adjustment you will see the layers on the image. You can see on the levels 1 layer that there is a layer mask the is almost all black except for a small amount of white at the bottom. What this mask is doing is making it so that the bottom of the image has the contrast adjustments and the top doesn't.

From this point I will typically either add other layers or flatten the image.  Sometimes I add a layer to adjust Hue/Saturation or Exposure. I will most often add filters from Topaz Adjust. These are all preferences and I may at some point create a tutorial for those additional steps.

fig 8.0
fig 9.0
After all the layer work in Photoshop I will then save the image again and bring it back into Lightroom. At this point I will do my cropping. For this particular shot I had to straighten the horizon and I did a custom crop by changing the aspect to 2.39 to 1.  By clicking on the square in fig 8.0 you open the crop adjustments. Use Angle to straighten the horizon. To change the aspect to 2.39 to 1 you click on the down arrow beside Original. Then select Enter Custom and type the numbers in. The aspect is like a fake panorama and I learned about this from Scott Kelby by watching his show The Grid so I decided to try it out on this shot. Next to the crop tool is the spot removal tool. I used this quite a bit in this shot. I removed many birds, weeds, and various other things that I felt took away from the image. Try to get rid of stuff that takes your eyes away from the main focus of the image. There are other settings you can adjust in Lightroom and for most images I do. However, with this shot the majority of the work was done in Photoshop. I added some Clarity for this shot. It wasn't much. Mostly because I wanted the shot to be smooth and soft. Other work that I have done I have pushed the Clarity up much higher. Typically I will add contrast in the area of +25. I will usually add Blacks to +5. Again this is all preference and is going to vary depending on the photo you are processing.

fig 10.0
The last thing that I added was a vignette. This is a slight darkening of the outside edges and corners. I will add this to certain images in an effort to keep the viewers eyes towards the middle of the photo. I do this using the Effects section and you can see the settings I use in fig 10.0

That basically wraps it up for the process that I use. I did leave out some steps regarding Topaz Adjust and I left that out because it's pretty complicated to explain. If you have and use Topaz, I will usually add a color blast layer but I will reduce it's opacity to about 55%. I usually will add a mild details layer as well. The opacity of that layer will depend on the shot and for a shot like Buffalo Trail I will mask out the layer in spots were I want things to be smoother like the water.

If you are interested in a print of Buffalo Trail or just want to see some of my other work feel free to visit my website:

Software Used:

Adobe Lightroom 3.0 -
Adobe Photoshop CS5 -
Photomatix Pro 4.0.2 -
Noise Ninja 2.3.6 -
Topaz Adjust 5.0 -

If you have any questions regarding this process feel free to leave comments here or you can find me on Google+ as +David Waddington .

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Island

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Elk, Island National, Park, Lake, Sunset, Astotin, David, Waddington
The Island

This was taken at Elk Island National Park in Alberta Canada shortly after sunset. This is Astotin Lake and the islands name is High Island. I had hoped to get here before the sun went down but the road was blocked for a considerable amount of time with large herds of buffalo. I took many photos of the buffalo as I drove by but sadly none of the photos turned out any good. I guess I need practice taking pictures and driving at the same time. It was really interesting seeing that many buffalo so close and I intend to go back really soon to photograph the buffalo again.

I find the island interesting because it almost looks like the bones of a fish. Elk Island National Park is a very interesting place and if you are ever in the area take the time to check it out. You can camp, picnic or even go canoeing on the many lakes in the area. The buffalo are protected so there is also many of them to see.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chaos Surrounds You

Chaos Surrounds You

I am sure many of you have heard the saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well the same principle can apply when you are surrounded by chaos. When everything around you seems to be going at a frantic pace, take a moment, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and make something out of that chaos. Chaos is an opportunity for you to show yourself and/or others what you are made of. Some people need more order in life than others and that in it's own is a measure of who you are. Some people can see chaos and just let it be and others can't. Neither way is right or wrong. Others can see chaos and turn it into something beautiful. Just like there are artists, lawyers, doctors, teachers and all the other professions it is the same with chaos. People should learn to appreciate how others deal with it just as they appreciate others for what type of work they do.

This image is of stormclouds surrounding the moon. Due to the settings which I took the photos at the moon actually looks like the sun. I had to bring up the exposure in order to capture the amazing color that is in the sky surrounding the moon. This was processed with the intent of being artistic. It was an awesome site and the storm that followed was very intense. I am going to be investing in gear that will permit me to shoot in storms and other bad weather because it creates great opportunity to make some cool photos.

Don't know what chaos is? Check this out. Warning explicit lyrics.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Play With Fire

Don't Play With Fire

This is smoke photographed in a studio setting. The smoke was created using incense and photographed with an off camera flash to the right of the camera.

I am posting this because today our city was covered in a blanket of smoke caused by forest fires that are raging out of control to the north west. Many of those fires started from some serious thunderstorms we have had over that last little while but there is always at least one that was started as a result of someone being careless with either fire or a cigarette. The single moment of tossing a cigarette butt out the window of a moving vehicle or carelessly tossing a butt into a wooded area while walking or hiking caused millions of dollars in damage. Not to mention it endangers the lives of residents in the area as well as the men and women that go out to fight that fire. If you have ever had to fight a forest fire, which I know most people have not, I will tell you it is not a pleasant experience. I seriously feel the pain of those out there sacrificing for the rest of us. The temperatures have been around 30 Celsius most of this week. Those fighting the fires are equipped with a large amount of protective gear that is hot to wear on a cool day. Add the temperature of a sunny day to the heat produced by a blazing fire and our firefighters are cooking inside that protective gear. Now add to that having to carry equipment to fight the fire, packing it into hard to reach areas and then busting their butts to try to put out a blaze. Men and women that fight forest fires are some of the toughest and bravest people out their and we owe it to them to be more careful with campfires, matches, cook stoves, cigarettes and anything else that can possibly ignite a fire.

To all of you firefighters out there. In Canada, the USA and the rest of the world you have my thanks for your hard and determined effort.