Monday, March 9, 2015

Entrance to the Underworld

Entrance to the Underworld

Its not as menacing as the title would suggest.  But the image above shows the entrance to this year's ice cave under the Vatnaj√∂kull Glacier in Iceland.  Getting to this location required driving over miles of frozen tundra, steams, and even a lake.  It would have been impossible to find this on our own.

Each year guides in Iceland start searching for Ice Caves in November.  This cave is only accessible when it's not raining.  The runoff from the glacier runs through this cave and the day before it was partially flooded according to our guide.  This cave was located at the base of the glacier where the ice meets a lake below.  In the summer you would need a boat to get back to this spot.  Three years ago the guide told us they could not find any caves.   It was obviously a bad winter for the guides.

The experience of being under the glacier was incredible; patterns in the ice, rocks embedded in the ice for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Iceland is incredible in the winter.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from Road Runner!

When you are mostly a landscape photographer it's kind of hard finding images that are suitable for a day filled with romance.  I was recently going through my collection of images and found this one from Henryton State Hospital, which has since been demolished.

It's the best I could do...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Quality vs. Quantity

I'm going to start with a question.  What is more important, quality of work or quantity of work?  What I mean by this is what if you took a week long trip and only got one portfolio quality image?  Would the trip be a failure or a success?  The answer to this question of course depends of your point of view.

Sitting on this side of the computer I have a front row seat to the internet just like you.  Now you can look at websites like 500px and generally you will see examples of stunning work from a variety of photographers.  Or if you go over to Flickr you might see someone post dozens or even hundreds of pictures from a particular trip or event.  There is no right answer to this question, its like many things in life, a matter of opinion.

As I finish my 2nd decade as a photographer, with a 20 year break between decades,  I find that I value quality.  In my mind this is the only possible choice.  When you go to a gallery or art show you see a few pieces from a particular artist at best.  Artists have always been forced to be selective when it comes to showing their work. But with the advent of the internet and nearly unlimited online storage, it takes us back to the days of sitting in front of a slide projector as your neighbor shows you 200 shots from their vacation.  Did you fall asleep before the show was over?  You have to be older than 40 to appreciate comparison.

It's not my intent to be critical of others in this space but let's think a minute.  If you post 100 pictures from a particular place or event, how many people will loose interest before looking at all of your images?  Or how many will judge your ability as a photographer not by your best image, but by your worst?  The fact is we all take lousy images.  I could show you thousands, but then you would not be inclined to return to my blog.   I think it helps if you can develop the ability to be your toughest critic.  That does not mean that you should not show your images and have pride in your work.  You should!  I think the art of photography is a journey and not a destination.  Personally I hope to be a better photographer as time progresses.  Part of that process is being critical of my work and introperspective on how I can strive to improve.

In regard to the blog image above.  It was the only worthy image from a full a day of shooting motion abstracts.   The rest were just not that good.  But my happiness with the one image far overpowers any possible disappointment with the hundreds I had taken that day that no one else will ever see.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Praying for Cold

I'm not a fan of cold weather and that is putting it mildly.  But one thing I look forward to is freezing temperatures that last for several days.  Here in Virginia we often flirt with freezing temperatures in the winter, but most of the time it's not enough for lakes and streams to freeze.

But freezing temperatures can be had if you are willing to travel. I have had great luck in the winter finding frozen water in nearby states of West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  I prefer to work the edges of streams and lakes.  Last year in Maine we did walk on some frozen lakes, but they were covered with about a foot of snow so there was not much to photograph. If you do decide to walk out on a lake or stream please be sure it's safe.  A picture in my opinion is not worth risking your safety.    If you stick to the edges I think you will find plenty on interesting patterns and shapes, just remember to dress for the elements.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Working a Subject

I have heard a lot online recently about revisiting old locations.  It's great advice and something I encourage everyone to follow.

The shot above is of the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA, located just south of the Pentagon.  So what could possibly change by revisiting a subject multiple times?  Your perspective for starters.  I know when I revisit a location I typically see things differently than before.  Sure I see some of the same things I have seen before as well, but the clouds and the light could possibly be different.  Especially if you go during different times of the day or different times of the year.

Small differences can sometimes make meaningful differences in how you see or interpret a subject. It's ok to go with preconceived notions of what you want to shoot but don't let yourself be limited by such thinking.   Just be open to what is in front of you and don't forget to look behind you either.

Of course this is an HDR image.  Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Grandpa's Truck

Do you ever revisit your old images?  I do on occasion and probably should do it more often.  I took this picture almost 10 years ago.   It was a truck in the woods on my grandfather's farm.  As a kid I thought I had been just about everywhere on that farm, but never saw this truck.  After the farm was sold to a developer I decided to make what I thought was one last visit, but in truth I ended up going back several times.  The developer had cut a road through the woods and this truck was visible from the road.  I think many years ago it was probably left parked at the edge of a field and over time the forest kept growing and eventually encompassed the truck.

When I shot this truck I knew that I needed to take more than one picture, but this was before I had learned much about HDR.  So I took a few brackets and it was enough to keep the sky behind the trees from blowing out.

Skip forward to today.  I loaded the 3 bracketed images into Photomatix and then moved the HDR image into Photoshop where I applied a little contrast and then used Topaz Impression for the painted look.

With today's technology I can achieve a look that exceeds anything I thought possible at the time of capture.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.

Topaz Impression is a fantastic tool for creating that "painted" look.  Use the code "roadrunner" and click here for a 15% discount on Topaz products.  Topaz products are fully functional for 30 days, so give it a try.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Softer Side of Grunge

When I'm shooting an abandoned building most of my pictures tend to have a "grungy" look.   This is usually accomplished with the use of Photomatix and some selective editing in Photoshop.  But a couple years ago on my first visit to Scranton Lace Factory I decided to take a different approach.  I did some shooting with my Lensbaby and the soft focus optic.

I love the soft focus optic and use it frequently with flowers.  The soft focus optic is different from the other Lensbaby lens options because there is no focus spot, rather the entire scene is soft, yet in focus.  But for some reason it seemed like the right tool for the scene in front of me.

Clients of Road Runner are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby Gear.  Contact us for a discount code.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.