I’m experimenting a bit more with the Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 software.  I wanted to show you the HDR output along with the original “close to the right exposure” frame.  People can get carried away and overdo the effect, but I’m trying to take a more subtile approach.

Here is the image combining 8 frames into one to expand the dynamic range:

Here is the single exposure image:

Which do you like better?

P.S.  If you look closely, you can see the moon high in the sky.



We were again blessed by being able to take our vacation in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. We also got to take some very close friends with us to enjoy the time on the water.

This year was a bit different that most of our boating vacations. Normally we sail, but this year we wanted to try out a motor yacht to see what that was all about. Our boat of choice was a 37 foot Nordic Tug named “Weak Moment.”

This boat normally spends the summer season in Alaska in charter service, but at the end of the year the owner brings it back down to Bellingham to a slightly warmer climate. The boat was the most comfortable boat I’ve ever been on. It has full-time AC power to operate a microwave oven, crockpot and even a curling iron (for one of our guests). Add to that the forced air furnace, windshield wipers, wall to wall carpeting and you ended up with some very happy campers.

From an operational point of view, it has a 330 HP diesel engine, bow thruster for maneuvering in close quarters, radar, navigational chart plotters with weather overlays and just about anything else you could imagine. Here is a twilight shot of one of our guests being illuminated by the chart plotter screens.

We had just hooked up to a mooring buoy in Fox Cove on the island of Sucia. You’ll notice how calm the water was on this first evening out. That was not to last. By the time morning arrive, we were facing 25-35 knot winds with 4 foot waves. Fortunately, we were in a relatively protected bay from the waves, but the wind was howling. The radio was alive with chat about various people in trouble due to the weather. There was even a US Coast Guard helicopter out looking for boats that were not in safe places, suggesting to the captains of those vessels to head for shelter.

The wind was forecasted to be a bit less in the afternoon (15-20 knots), but was then to increase to 35+ later that night.  We decided to make a run for it to Friday Harbor. Weak Moment handled the then 2 to 3 foot waves just fine and we pulled into a slip for a couple of nights to wait out the storm. Not a problem for us, as Friday Harbor is our favorite place to visit.

The storm passed and we ended up with nice weather for the rest of our trip. We visited Montague Harbor and the town of Ganges in Canada. It was nice to have some sun.

Two nights left on our trip, so we headed back to the US to clear customs at Roche Harbor. On the way, we passed Turn Point lighthouse on Stuart Island and had a very big surprise. A whale was spotted about a quarter of a mile in front of us. Then we saw some more. The next thing we knew they were all around us. We’re guessing there were probably 15-20 total in the pod, some being quite young and small, but two others that were gigantic. The dorsal fin on these big ones must have been 5 to 6 feet tall. Here is one of my favorite photos.

This was taken with my Canon 7D with the 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens. I still can’t get over how massive these sea creatures are.

We finally made it back to the US, but we were late so the on-call customs official had to make a trip across the island to check us in. I was the only one that could leave the boat until we were cleared, so we enjoyed a bit of dock time as we waited for the official to arrive.

Weak Moment was moved to a slip in Roche Harbor for the night and I’m glad we stayed here, as I could get off the boat for some fun night shots. Here is one that was was captured with my Canon 5D MkII with a 24-105mm f4 lens set at f5.6.  The exposure was 30 seconds in length, making the stars shine though the thin layer of clouds.

All in all it was a wonderful trip. We’ll probably charter another Nordic Tug in the future (especially in the rainy season), but you’ll just as likely see us on a sailboat next time around.

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our adventure.



It is a amazing what you see when you just look around.  Last fall we were sailing near Victoria, BC and were in the harbor for the evening when the sky started to change.  It became more colorful by the minute.  There were also a number of gulls swimming in the water.  I watched, waited for a shot, and…. click…  got it.


Today I was taking photos of all the runners at the local YMCA hosted “Camel’s Back Duathlon.” Most everyone had already finished and I was waiting for the next person to come across the line with no one in site. For the past 30 minutes I had been looking for a good candidate for a small modeling job. Most runner shots were captured head to toe and you could definitely tell what they were doing. I wanted to see if I could tell a story without showing the big picture, so I asked a woman waiting for her friends to finish the race to help me with an experiment. I had her stand just under the finish line banner with her head at just the right angle. Then I snapped a nice closeup of her face and her very reflective glasses.

Do you like the different way of telling this athlete’s story?

2009-11-08While out for a bike ride today I spotted a fisherman having a great time on the river.  I had to stop and take a shot or two since the vibrant colors were showing their stuff.  This fall has been particularly nice for colors and it has lasted longer than usual.

Keep your eyes open for a nice shot and don’t be afraid to stop and take the photo.  It would have been easy for me to pedal on past, but I’m glad that I stopped.

Another thing to note is that I would have normally only my cell phone camera with me on a bike ride, but I took a pocket camera with me in hopes of seeing something good.  I was not disappointed.

Pelindaba PondAs in the prior post, we are at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm on San Juan Island. Instead of photographing the nice lavender plants, I decided to photograph this rowboat next to their pond.

The water was like glass and it gave us a sense of calmness. Maybe it was still the scent of the lavender helping with that.

The time of day we were there is great for photography. It is what is referred to as the “Golden Hour” in which the light is softer and warmer than at other times of the day. This golden (or magic) hour is the first and last sunlight of the day.

Pick a familiar place and take a series of the same photo at various times of day. Be sure to get several during the golden hour. You will be amazed at the difference a few hours will make to the look of your photograph.


San Juan ReflectionThe image for today was taken on a very calm morning at Stewart Island in the San Juan Islands. Our sailing yacht was resting at anchor and the surface of the water in the harbor was like glass.

I converted this image to black and white and I liked the results.

Canon 20D, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L at 34mm, 1/125 at f5.6, ISO 100








Marina SunriseMornings can be so peaceful.  There is calmness everywhere.  Everything is asleep, getting the last bit of rest before starting a new day.  Well, except photographers.  🙂

When the sun is near the horizon, either morning or evening the light can do amazing things.  The sky in this particular image is painted with pastel colors, something you just will not see midday.  The location of this photograph is in Port Townsend, Washington.

Get up early and discover a new world.

Canon 20D, Canon 24-105 f4 L IS at 47mm, 1/20 at f5.6, ISO 100

IllusionThe mind can play funny tricks on you, or maybe you can play funny tricks on your mind. This image was taken in the Sawtooth mountains in central Idaho. My wife and I were on short hike up Fishhook creek when I spotted this scene.

You are probably asking how I shot through grass like this to capture the mountain scene. Well, if you study it closer, especially if you are standing on your head, it will become obvious.

This is actually an inverted reflection of the mountains in a pond. There was not a breath of wind this day, making the water like glass.

Olympus D-490-Z, lens at 15.7mm, 1/250 at f4.4, ISO 100

Capitol ReflectionsLast month, I took a morning tour of my home town of Boise, Idaho. It’s funny how we always take photographs when we are on vacation, but not as often around our familiar territory. Maybe it is just too familiar so we don’t perceive it as interesting. I was amazed at all the places I found that morning that were quite interesting, at least to my eye.

I was busily shooting images of the capitol building when I happened to turn around and see an even better shot in the mirrored windows of an office building. Several shots were taken, some without the sky, some with. This was my favorite. The sky makes you think just for a minute as to what makes up the entire image.

So, next time you are wanting to take some photographs, try touring a location near to you. You might be surprised.

Canon 20D, Canon 24-105 f4 L IS at 54mm, 1/800 at f5.6, ISO 100