A tree in Maui

I love this tree that I came across in Maui.  It’s just perfect.  I love the shape, I love the placement on a curving path, and I even love the little tilt to it.  It’s leaning towards the ocean - and therefore towards the wind - as if in challenge.  It’s just cool.

We walked past it almost every morning while there, and on this fine morn I happened to bring along my gear.  This was a layup - great light, great lines with the curving path, and a great subject.  Easy.  All I had to do was wait for those folks taking a stroll to get out of my viewfinder, and the 7 frame bracket fired away quickly!

Snowy Austin

Those two words are not normally in the same sentence, but they came together yesterday as Austin got hit with an unusual but awesome snowstorm.  It was not a big snowstorm that snarls up everything, but it was soft and consistent and actually stuck around for a while.  There was still snow today visible in a lot of places.  Like many folks, once it really started coming down, I abandoned any hope of productivity and went out with the camera.  I got this shot from the outlook over the 360 bridge.  I also did a bunch of other shots that I will share in time, like maybe in the summer when we are sweating to 100 degree temps.

This is a single exposure taken at f/9.  I made some adjustments in PSE and then ran it through Topaz Adjust just for fun.  I converted it to Black & White once I got it back into Aperture.  I thought the monochrome look worked well for a snow scene.  One version that I got from Topaz is this color version below.  Let me know what you think!  It is a little bit unreal (our lake isn't usually that blue) but I thought it was fun anyways.

The oaks can't help their feelings

This is a group of live oaks that I came across on the University of Texas at Austin campus while on a photowalk with Pete Talke.  I have to credit him for the shot, as he was setting up to take it when I walked up.  I had to agree - I liked the view.  I also like how the trees seem to be hanging down, almost like they are sad or something.  It reminded me of the song "The Trees" from the band Rush that I used to listen to all those years ago, and the title was borrowed from the lyrics of that song. I always thought the song was making some sort of social or political commentary, but I'm not sure.

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/22.  There was plenty of light so the tight aperture worked well in this situation.  The exposures range from -3 to +2.  I blended the shots into an HDR using Photomatix, and then made some of my usual adjustments in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask) before a final light touch in Topaz Adjust.

One of the things I like most about HDR is that it accentuates detail that is often lost in shadow.  For example, in this shot I really like the color and detail on the stone bench on the left, which looks much better (at least to me!) in HDR than it ever could with a normal exposure.

Taller

We were in Jackson Hole, WY for a guys' trip (which is awesome by the way) and had decided to spend a day in Yellowstone.  This is normally a fairly quick drive, except that we were there while the nearest entrance was still snowed in, so we had to drive for 2+ hours, briefly through Idaho and then enter the park through West Yellowstone, MT.  It was a great drive with a lot of scenery to enjoy all the way.  Shortly after leaving Jackson Hole, we were cruising up through a mountain pass which was pretty near the border with Idaho.  I saw this scene, and really liked that one tall tree standing alone.

This is a single exposure taken at f/10.  I originally was going to post this as a color version, but could never settle on how best to process it.  There was not a lot of color to work with, save for a little blue, and nothing ever looked right.  Finally I got inspired to change it to Black and White, and here it is.  I actually like this version much better than the color, since you can better see the mountain ranges in the distance.  Plus, sometimes these type of landscape shots are best presented in a very simple way, to let the natural beauty speak for itself.  Or something like that. 

Empty and silent

I went with a couple of friends up to Jackson Hole, WY a while back during late April, which as you can tell from the picture was not springtime yet.  It was cold, snowy and awesome - very unlike April here in Central Texas.  We had no real agenda, other than to have a good time.  One day we drove around a bit outside of town, just cruising and having a look around, and came across this scene.  I really liked the big lone tree standing there, and how this fence seems to separate not much from not much.  It's a beautiful part of the country and I recommend it highly.