Road Trip Photos II

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I’m heading out on another road trip in a few days! In the meantime, I’m uploading some old road trip photos that I’ve taken throughout the years.

All photos were shot from inside a moving vehicle, usually with the windows still up.

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📍Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
📷 Canon EOS 60D

Noticed this stunning reflection out the driver’s sideview mirror. The blues in the mountains and the sky really stood out against the dried grass along the road. Used my zoom lens to awkwardly take a photo over the driver’s shoulder. Worth it.

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đź“ŤNacogdoches, TX
📷 iPhone 5s

Accidentally took a wrong turn while on the way to Lake Nacogdoches. Ended up driving through this beautiful little forest for half an hour before we realized we needed to turn back. Needless to say, we had no regrets. I snapped this photo with my phone through the windshield because my camera was in the trunk.

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đź“ŤSomewhere between Houston and Boston
📷 iPhone 5s

Smooth reflections.

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đź“ŤArizona
📷 Canon EOS 60D

Long Road-trips đź’™

đź“ŤCalifornia & Nevada
đź“· Canon EOS 60D

Photos taken from inside a rental car during a recent road trip. Despite the fact that our car was going around 80 mph and the windows were covered with rain residue, my camera was able to save a few shots.

I absolutely love road-trips. Watching the scenery change gradually (or abruptly) is both relaxing and awe-inspiring. During the evening or early morning, you can witness the sky take on so many different shades of pinks and blues. I love knowing that there is nothing I can do inside a car except sit back, blast some road-trip music, and admire the view. No email, no work, no stress.

Can’t wait to hit the road again.

January | Original Piano Composition

ABOUT THE ALBUM: Each month I plan on composing and recording a new piano piece that reflects the events/mood/weather experienced throughout the month. The entire process will take place from the start of the month, and hopefully I can upload the piece sometime before the last week. This project is experimental in nature, so I will try out different recording/mastering techniques as well as compositional. Some of the pieces will be more melodic in nature and others will be purely “mood” pieces. I hope you enjoy!

JANUARY THEMES: new beginnings, resolutions, cold mornings, hot chocolate, and tears

Sea Lions | San Diego

đź“ŤLa Jolla Beach, San Diego
📷 Canon EOS 60D | EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Rumors say you can see sea lions up close at La Jolla Beach.

I am pleased to report that this is indeed true.

When I arrived at La Jolla early in the morning, the sea lions were sunbathing on rocks along the beach, and they weren’t camera-shy at all. You could easily get within arm’s reach and pose with them. Despite the signs warning against harassing the sea lions, many tourists could not resist touching the adorable creatures.

Here are some photos I took without tourists photobombing in the background:

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Oh! The Drama!

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The Professional Model

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Little Mermaid Reenactment

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BONUS: On the other side of the beach, I found a herd of seals! The waves kept washing them into the cove, and they would resolutely wiggle back onto the shore.

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Life Goals

All in all, it was an amazing day at the beach.

 

Merry Christmas🎄

I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season!

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The above photo of my Christmas tree was taken on a Canon EOS 60D with manual focus and an index card that I cut and attached to the lens to create the bokeh tree pattern. Always fun to experiment with Christmas lights.

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I’m spending the rest of my Christmas day processing holiday photos. Adobe Lightroom never ceases to impress me with its ability to enhance RAW files. Hopefully I will save some good shots to use for greeting cards next year!

 

Thanksgiving 2016

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Here’s my first attempt at drawing comics! I used pen on paper and then scanned the image as black and white.

Every year, Black Friday sales begin earlier and earlier. This year in particular, many stores were advertising openings at 5pm or 6pm Thursday evening. What happened to Thanksgiving?

Photoshopped Dreams

Does post-processing enhance or detract from the photography experience?

Since childhood, I have suffered from a debilitating illness known as “wanderlust.” My symptoms include excessive daydreaming about places I have yet to visit, estimating travel expenses to literally everywhere in the world, and spending hours on the internet ogling photos of beautiful destinations.

Majestic ice-capped mountains. Glistening turquoise waters. Lavender fields at sunset. The places —  the photos — looked so perfect. I wanted to see it all. More than that, I wanted to join the ranks of those talented photographers who could perfectly capture those breathtaking scenes and inspire others to see the world.

Over the years, I have taken millions of photos. When I got my hands on my first DSLR camera, I thought my next photo would definitely go on the cover of National Geographic. It didn’t happen. Clearly a picture of my backyard taken using the camera’s automatic mode wasn’t going to cut it. I gradually learned how to adjust aperture, exposure, ISO, and shutter speed to get the exact lighting I envisioned. Eventually, I could shoot in manual mode and manually focus without a second thought. However, no matter where I went with my camera — Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Caribbean — I just couldn’t quite get the results I dreamed of. My sunsets were not vivid enough. My trees did not have enough sunlight streaming through. My clouds were not fluffy enough. And when they were, the sky just wasn’t blue enough.

And then one day, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop changed my life. Sure, I had heard of photo editing and filters before. But part of me was holding on to the belief that I didn’t need post-processing to “fix” my pictures. I just needed to keep trying, keep practicing, and keep traveling until I found my perfect shot. However, my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to see what the software was all about. I started by a watching a tutorial video of someone creating a sunset. Wait. Creating a sunset? Yes. He made a sunset where no sunset existed before. It started as a gloomy photo of waves crashing against a cliffside with a lighthouse in the distance. Fifteen minutes later, it was a masterpiece. The sky glowed with pinks and oranges as the last rays of the (previously nonexistent) sun sank behind the cliff. Even the water sparkled in the sunset.

I was extremely impressed, but at the same time, I felt like I had suddenly lost something. The magic was gone. A portrait of a happy child running through a golden hayfield on a sunny day could be five or more photos meticulously stitched together. Were all the photos I looked up to merely photoshopped dreams? Was the reason that my photos never looked like the ones on postcards simply because those scenes never existed?

The photos below are examples of what a little bit of editing can do.

Forest Original

Original Image

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Edited Image – “Light Through the Trees”

My original photo lacks vibrance and depth. Popular forest images often feature sunlight filtering through trees. To create the edited image, I inserted a “sun” and adjusted the transparency and placement until it blended into the original picture. Then I tweaked the exposure, temperature, saturation, etc. of the image until it looked like the sunlight belonged among the trees.

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Original Image

Shine brighter

Edited Image – “Rays of Light”

For this photo of Galveston, the only tool I used was a graduated filter with a dehazing option to bring out the blue sky.

If I can drastically change my photos with just a few steps, it is no surprise that photographers skilled at post-processing can create stunning photos out of what would have initially been mediocre shots. I am not saying that all great photos are edited. It is possible to actually photograph a rainbow over Half Dome with an eagle flying overhead, and I have enormous respect for those photographers who can pull it off. However, the vast majority of my photos do not look spectacular. Sometimes my camera isn’t ready when a deer runs by, or a tourist obstructs the view. Sometimes I set my camera down to simply enjoy the view.

Initially, I was disillusioned by post-processing, but with more experience, I am starting to appreciate what it adds to the photography world. The man who created a sunset behind a cliff? Just because his original photo did not have a sunset does not mean that he didn’t see one when he was there. When photographers take long-exposure shots (think silky waters), very dim lighting is necessary, otherwise the whole photo turns out white. Thus, it is common to wait until the sun has already gone down before taking a photo and then adding the sunset back. Similarly, when I took my forest picture, the morning light filtered through the treetops as I hiked, and a light breeze blew through the leaves. I felt rejuvenated and at peace. My original photo does not convey any of this. My edited photo is much closer to my actual experience in the forest. It captures my mood at the time, the essence of my forest experience.

Sure, if you look at an HD photo of a national park and try to recreate the scene with just your camera phone in jpg format, then you will be disappointed. But it does not mean that your experience there won’t be amazing. Ultimately, a photograph is only two-dimensional. Your experiences are much more than that. Photo-editing, when done right, is not meant to mislead people. It’s a tool to help you express the sights, sounds, and feelings you lived through in a format you can hang on your wall. In a way, a post-processed photo might be a better reflection of reality.

Thus, I am going to keep looking at great photos and continue planning for my next adventure. I may not see a herd of reindeer underneath the northern lights in Norway, but I have faith that I will not be disappointed with what I do find. It’s going to take a lot more than post-processing software to cure me of wanderlust.