30. August 2015 · Comments Off on Devil is in the the details · Categories: Fall Colors, Locations, Taking care, Travel · Tags: , ,

ADHD makes details difficult, luckily meds make a huge difference ! ¬†Never the less, the devil is in the details ūüôā ¬† Several things have been reminding me of this lately; some post processing work I have been doing, and planning the Columbia gorge trip with others.

The featured image of the Canadian Rockies ¬†was originally to dark and the clouds were blown out. ¬†I had it on my home page after fixing the too dark, but the clouds still bothered me because they were blown out -one of those details I had not taken care of….. This in turn had me looking at other photos from that trip (honeymoon) and finding more. ¬†One of the other details that I found was halo’ing on the sky-mountain edges. ¬†This in turn required me to revisit several other photos to deal with the halos. ¬†In the photo below, notice the halo in the sky along the mountain top.

detail, fixing the brightness

Canadian Rockies

fixing the sky and halos


At least for me, it takes time and practice to notice the details, (and usually a goof or two as well). The fall colors to the Columbia gorge looks like it is a go, and I was talking with some of the others about it. In the course of the conversation, lots of details started popping up that need to be thought about.

  • rain cover for the camera
  • wool socks because our feet are likely to get wet, and wet cotton is awful
  • towel for rain, mist (from sky or water fall)
  • alarm clock to make it to sunrise on time
  • battery charger
  • which rental car agency so that we can have 2 drivers per car
  • AAA maps
  • which flights
  • where to stay for Silver Falls State park

And the lists go on.  But if there is a list, I am more likely to get taken care of than thinking of it, and then forgetting.

The grizzly below does not have a catch light in its eyes. Compare the difference in feel between the image without the catch light and the one with the catch light. The catch light is a small detail, but has a big impact.

After Lightroom

Waking grizzly


detail with catch light

Waking grizzly with catch light doesn’t seem as formidable as without; a warmer friendlier photo.

22. August 2015 · Comments Off on Planning waterfalls and fall colors · Categories: Composition · Tags: , ,

South Lake roadThis October, rather than our regular Eastern Sierra Fall colors trip, we are planning a trip to Oregon for waterfalls with fall colors. ¬†Part of the issue is that for my son and I the Eastern Sierra are becoming cliche; we know where a large number of great shots can be taken from, not that there are not more, new and different ones, but the obvious shots have been collected, in my LR catalog I have over 33,000 fall color frames, clearly not all of outstanding quality ¬†(LoL, ūüôā ). ¬†I have only done the waterfalls twice, one in the spring and once in the fall, it is still new.

Columbia gorge

Columbia gorge

There are the usual logistical issues of where to stay so that we can maximize photo time and have the greatest possibilities. ¬†Then there is the question of what places should we plan on stopping at? ¬†In this case, a guided book is invaluable, and I like Photographing Oregon, the whole ‘Photographing <state>’ series is designed for photographers. ¬†But, beyond the logistics of the trip there are other challenges that should at least be given some consideration. ¬†In sunny California, water, and in particular waterfalls are not common, blue skies are. ¬†How should we shoot a waterfall? High noon doesn’t work! ¬† Waterfalls are difficult to shoot because of the high contrast between the water, shade and sky. ¬†The high contrast makes it difficult to capture an image that matches the experience of the waterfall.

There are several ways to deal with the high contrast so often found when shooting waterfalls;

  • Make sure that everything in the photo is in the shade (implies no sky). ¬†The picture below violates sky clause, however most of the photo is in the shade , but even then the contrast in the water is still large.
    waterfall in the shade

    Silver Falls Park, OR

    This usually means knowing the right time of day for each scene that you want to shoot. (not 2PM like this one)

  • Do not include the sky even if there is direct sun on the scene
    Can require great creativity in composition to make this work.

    waterfall, no sky

    San Jose, Uvas Canyon

    Waterfall without sky

    Waterfall without sky

    Waterfall with sky

    Waterfall with sky

  • Use HDR with bracketed exposures (Usually need 3 to 5 stops on a sunny day)PL20100412-Waterfalls-4519
  • Shoot with overcast skies so that the light is more even, less contrasty, and the colors are richer
    Although I like HDR for the increased range, I have not yet had great success with waterfalls when I include the sky.

    Overcast, rainy day waterfall

    Multnoma, Columbia gorge

I couldn’t resist using this picture of my wife and I. Multnomah falls is a popular wedding location. ūüôā Luckily the Oregon weather tends to cooperate with this aspect!

04. July 2015 · Comments Off on Trip Planning · Categories: Plan, Practice, Preparation · Tags: ,

“Chance favors the prepared mind” Louis Pasteur

Most every year my wife, Laurie, and I make a spring trip to the Southwest. It is a time we both look forward to; as she says ‘you drag me to such beautiful places and you don’t rush me once we are there.’ ¬†The trips are planned around getting good photos. ¬† How many times have you seen really nice photos and said to yourself, ‘ How come mine don’t look like that?’ ¬†Getting great pictures is not particularly a matter of luck (although luck certainly helps in getting dramatic skies, or blue skies as desired). ¬†In this case it is a matter of trip planning.

Many things go into a successful photo expedition; and getting them right  makes a huge difference both in the photos, and in the enjoyment.  Mostly trip planning is about all of the various logistics that are involved:

  1. What do I want to accomplish? ¬†What types of photos, what types of locations. ¬†Am I headed for Le Mans and car racing, or in this case the American Southwest. ¬†If you don’t know, then look at magazines, travel guides until you have an idea of what you want to do photographically.
  2. Having decided the what you want, then the trip planning is the logistics of travel and lodging given where and when you want to be someplace for a particular photo.  For example; if you want Mesa Arch at sunrise
    Mesa Arch at sunrise

    Mesa Arch – Island in the Sky – Canyonlands

    , then you need to figure an hour plus from Moab to the arch (maybe longer), and you want to arrive at least half an hour before sunrise. ¬†Arriving at a place at sunrise is better than a couple hours later, but arriving before sunrise is so much better, particularly if you want one of those dramatic photos that you see and wonder why aren’t mine like that? ¬†Oh, and remember to bring a headlamp for walking in the dark, and a tripod that you know how to use for the long exposures.

  3. So, using the Mesa Arch as an example, what else is there to see that could be seen?  Dead Horse State Park
    Road, Canyons, the LaSals from Dead Horse State Park

    Road, Canyons, the LaSals from Dead Horse State Park

    comes to mind, or False Kiva.

  4. Oh, did we get the car gassed ¬†up the night before (most gas stations are not open at O’dark hundred).
  5. How do we get to Moab? Well it takes 2 days driving, need a place to stay along the way as well as a place in Moab. (AAA books are nice).
  6. What are the plans for each of the 10 days?
    1. Drive to Barstow, CA in the evening after work; what are we doing for food & water, where are we staying?  Have I planned to have the car serviced before the trip?
    2. Day 1: Barstow to Moab the next day (I15 to I70).  Do I want to stop, is there time to stop for some rock art photos?
      Rock Art

      On a major byway through the mountains

      If I want rock art photos, what do I need like off camera flash? If I am planning a sunrise shoot the next morning, have I gassed the car up the night before, even if it is midnight?

    3. Day 2: Sleep in, continental breakfast in motel/hotel.  Sunset shoot at Dead Horse, scout other locations.  Maybe get False Kiva.
    4. Day 3:…
    5. Day 4:

What I have found to be successful for planning is asking a bunch of questions and then keeping notes on the answers that I group together .

The questions include

  • What do I want?
    • If I don’t know where or what I want I refer to either the AmericanSouthwest.net¬†or to Photographing the Southwest, both are excellent sources of information about thing to shoot, and how to get there. ¬†Although the parks and BLM have good visitor sites, a good guide book or website can help you find locations, and plan that the visitors centers can’t. ¬†I have found both of the above to be quite useful.
  • Getting There
    • How long to get there? ¬†Do I have the needed maps? ¬†There are places GPS doesn’t work very well.
    • When do I want to be there? ¬†Is there some slack built in for the unexpected? The featured image requires you to be there within a fairly small time window.
    • What do I need?
      • What camera equipment
      • What clothing (Jacket? Sun hat, sun screen, boots, socks, etc.)
      • Food & water (cases of bottled water work very well)
      • What does my wife need (she doesn’t like the cold, and wants to be fed regularly, imagine that…)?
      • Unusual things, e.g. first aid kit, ¬†head lamp
      • Car charger and other electronics
    • What preparation is required? ¬†e.g. servicing the car before the trip, motel reservations, checking out places to eat on yelp.
  • What are alternatives if things don’t work out (e.g. the road is closed).

Asking myself these kinds of questions and knowing how to get answers (see references above) are critical to setting yourself up for success.

One of the things learned through not having done it, is to build at least a partial itinerary (say by half days) of places. ¬†It really doesn’t very well to go oops, I meant to stop at, and it is now two hours away. ¬† So, I might have an Island in the Sky itinerary that looks like:

  • Mesa Arch (leave sunrise -2 hours)
  • Aztec Mesa ( 2-3 hours)
  • Lunch at visitors center
  • Shafter trail long canyon 2 hours (get locations of rock art, and arches)
  • False Kiva for late afternoon (2 hours)
  • Dead horse point for sunset (easy)
  • Return Moab, dinner

Some planning ahead of time greatly enhances the experience.

See more Southwest photos at PatrickLynchPhotography.com/Gallery

18. March 2015 · Comments Off on A Prepared Photographer · Categories: Preparation · Tags: , , , ,


Not so recently I was in Canyonlands National Park for a sunrise shoot through Mesa Arch.  There were a number of other photographers there before sunrise.  What was a surprise was the degree of  not prepared.

  • Several people didn’t have tripods, so they couldn’t take photos other than setting the camera on a rock.
  • Others didn’t know how to operate their cameras
  • Still others didn’t know how to put the camera on the tripod
  • Only about half had a flashlight or headlamp.

All of the above doesn’t mean that you can’t get nice images, it is just harder to get good images; your options are more limited.¬†Learning to be prepared can occur via the school of problems, or you can get some coaching so that you are more likely to be successful.¬† Being unprepared may mean you miss the shot you wanted, or that it doesn’t turn out as well as you would like.

Take the sunrise shoot at mesa arch; someone who has shot there previously can tell you how long it takes to drive, and then walk to the arch. What lens combinations work from each location.  Which locations work for sunrise, what works for sunset. Or you can do like we did figure out the mileage and the walking distance and make an estimate.  In our case, we did not allocate enough time and I had to run on the trail in the dark.

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch

Ask someone who has been where you want to go and see what tips you can get.

Ask and answer these questions for yourself

  • How much time will it take me to get setup?
    • How long to get there?
    • How long to set up?
    • Do I know where I am going?
  • What equipment do I need? (trying to get a shot under pressure, when it is the first time with the equipment is a recipe for failure!)
    • Do I have the equipment I need?¬† Is it pre setup? or am I going to fumble when I get there?
    • Do I know how to use the equipment?
    • Is the equipment ready? (clean, batteries, media, extra batteries for the cold)
  • Do I have the non camera gear that I need?
    • Snacks; an army or an individual marches on their stomachs
    • The right clothes; few things are more miserable than freezing (sub zero & breeze) and not having the right clothes.
    • Map/directions, permits
  • Other
    • Am I planning on meeting someone? If so how are we going to rendezvous?
    • Is the car gassed and ready?

The Boy Scouts really have something with ‘Be Prepared’