Posted by: merlyn9 | 28 February, 2009

A Wobbly view of Lightroom Clarity

A quick break from my Yellowstone Adventure story and images…


Alternative Use of Adjustment Brush in Lightroom 2.x

After listening to the latest Episode of PhotoshopUser TV Podcast (Episode #174 — 23Feb09) I really had my curiosity peeked by a tutorial Matt Kloskowski and some comments he made during this tutorial.  Matt shows in his tutorial a way to use a New feature found in Adobe Camera RAW under Photoshop CS4.   Unfortunate for myself, I have yet to upgrade to CS4 from CS3 because all my resources went into saving for that New Canon EOS 5D MKII!   Then the transmission on the truck went out and cost me more than the retail price of entire Photoshop CS Suite!  The very bad side of this…  Camera RAW in CS3 does Not recognize the RAW images from the 5D MKII… I Need to get the CS4 upgrade for this.  Yet Lightroom 2.2 Has been updated to work with this camera’s RAW files!

OK, Back to Matt’s tutorial and his comments.  During his introduction into this new feature Matt says:

“..it’s kind of neat.  I almost wish that Lightroom worked this way because I use Lightroom more often than I use Camera RAW for this but[ton].  I wish Lightroom worked this way.  If I click the minus button it resets everything else to zero and brings my clarity down to minus 25.”

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Original Unretouched Image (cropped)

So initially I was thinking Matt was talking about the way clarity and the adjustment brush worked from within Lightroom.  So earlier tonight I went into Lightroom and opened an image from a recent model I shot during a Valentine’s Day themed shoot.

Now these jpeg image examples shown here have been Cropped Only and have Not had any additional modifications or adjustments made other than this Clarity Brush simply for the sake of this blog entry.  This would not be my final version of this image.  (click on the images to view larger renditions of them)

In the first image you can see some blotchiness in the models skin. There are always some other imperfections or wrinkles creating less than optimal textures across skin.

In the Develop Module within Lightroom, selecting the Adjustment Brush from the panel on the right (default location) you can see the settings I used on this image. I had originally started with an mount setting of -96, but I thought that was a bit much for my liking so I brought it back down until I liked the results.  I am sure every models skin is going to require a different setting, as I’m sure lighting is going to play a factor here as well.

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Lightroom Adjustment Brush settings

Using these settings above results in the image below. Sorry I did not provide a side-by-side comparison in this blog… believe me the thought had crossed my mind. But there is a fair amount of noticeable smoothing or softening of her skin. From the Mask Overlay image below you can see I have only made adjustments to her face at this time.

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Image After Clarity adjustment applied

Clarity Adjustment Mask

Visible Clarity Adjustment Mask

To view this mask you can mouse-over the pin associated with this adjustment action. You can see it in the image on the model’s right cheek.  When I move the mouse off this the mask becomes hidden again.  I am sure there is a way to bring this up to work finer areas, but I’m not aware of it, so feel free to leave me a comment below if you know how to do this.  Camera RAW does allow for this making it much easier to fine tune your make area.  I also don’t know if I can change the mask color to turn my model into an Umpa Loompa?  Obviously, I created this mask pretty quickly as can be seen from the over paint across the eyebrow and lips.  But I was looking to see if this effect feature was functional within Lightroom.  Obviously (one would hope anyhow right?) I would be more careful in preparing an image for final presentation.

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Re-listening to Matt’s Words…

I have since gone back, and re-listened a few times to that portion of that podcast episode, especially to transcribe Matt’s quote above exactly.  I think he may actually have been referring to the way clicking on the button functions and resets the other settings, vs. the way the adjustment brush with clarity works within Lightroom.  But I still found this to be quite an interesting test and comparison that I still completed this blog entry and published it anyhow.

Alternative Tool Options

Are there other means of softening skin within Photoshop?  Sure there are, and most of them have some sort of price tag associated with them.  From less than a hundred dollars to several hundreds.  In searching for something that works well for my taste and style of work I have trialed a few of these.

Nik Software Dfine 2.0 – I briefly tested the demo version of this plug-in the 1st-half of 2008.  I was pretty pleased with it’s results and flexibility at the time.   $99.95 directly, but I found this available at Adorama for $79.

Imagenomic Portraiture 2 – I also checked out the trial version of this plug-in during early 2008 and was more pleased with this tool.  Although I did have a few issues with this on the Mac at the time, and I did receive a quick response via E-mail… I don’t recall the issue being resolved completely to my liking at that time.  This plug-in was quite costly at $199.95.  But I guess if you are doing this type of work full time and being paid for or making money at it, that would be an easier amount to justify then.

Preliminary Analysis…

So Overall I like the Camera RAW Feature that Matt demonstrated in this tutorial.
Obviously now I am going to want to revisit this with Photoshop CS4 and that version of Camera RAW…

For those of us unable to afford or justify spending funds on plug-ins, especially in these economic conditions, this functionality works great.  The visible masking alone is sweet.  My initial test here was only from Lightroom.  Results compared to what Matt shows in the podcast are not as nice as when done from Camera RAW.  Maybe I just need to use a few more sample images and compare results that way.  Another advantage of the Camera RAW method is you can edit with the mask being visible.  As mentioned above, I don’t think this is possible from Lightroom.  Of course this just adds another reason why I need to save more lunch monies and purchase my upgrade to Photoshop CS 4.0!


All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 23 February, 2009

Winter Wonderland in Yellowstone – Part I

Ah… The Trip has Arrived!

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E-mail Announcement about this Adventure

Road Trip Departure

Friday Morning… The truck was loaded, all the gear in the bed, except for those camera’s which were nestled safely in the back seat with pillows for their comfort.  (ok, so this sounds too much like a holiday story… let’s get back  to reality)
Off we left early Friday morning and even though we were heading south on I-88 we really didn’t have a whole lot of traffic.  For most of the drive it was pretty moderate traffic.  I think the longest slow moving period was when we got caught up behind some very wide equipment being transported, and No One wanted to move around it down the side.  Honestly, I think the fact that the police were escorting this with their light on intimidated a lot of folks… finally one brave soul in another pick-up moved past, and then things began to trickle through.

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Getting From Here to there... even with a change in the middle!

So the Original plan for the day way to drive from home to Lincoln, Nebraska and spend the night there.  Somewhere along the route with Diane my Trusty Navigator monitoring things… we changed our over-night destination from Lincoln to… Ogallala, NE.  Still right on I-80, but about another 278 miles.  Which in reality turned out OK, since there was some slight miscalculations about the midpoint of travel and we ended up passing through Lincoln at about 3:30 in the afternoon as it was.  None the less, we were in Ogallala shortly after dinner, but with the Timezone change, we still had plenty of time to find something to eat.  A good nights rest and off again in the morning.  Dinner Saturday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

Saturday evening we pull into Jackson Hole from the South.  The 49’er Inn on Pearl Street is right off the main drag and was easy to find.  Nice place, friendly folks behind the desk.  We had requested an upgrade from the `normal` room, after Diane see-sawed over a gas burning fire place… Interestingly enough, this put us over in their 2nd building, and that is where as a group, we would be holding our meetings the next few evenings.  So we ended up just two doors down from this conference room.  After we turned OFF the Heat and Opened the Window, we relaxed from the journey and checked out stuff to do before the Big Meet-up on Sunday.  The Gas Fireplace was really nice too.

Sunday Morning Window shopping, Diane trying things over at the Fur shop, T-shits and vests… Quick stop at the grocery store for some supplies.  Back to the room in time for the start of the Super Bowl Game… Go Steelers!  The game started such that Halftime started just as the GAPW meeting was kicking off.  So I got to watch that much.  By Halftime folks were starting to gather down the hall for our first meeting.   I thought this little get together Before we all headed out was good, not only because we would get some good info… but we would begin to recognize the other folks in our group before we were all busy out in the field.

Day One

Get together time… we all gathered into this conference room, in pairs… two to a table. George Theodore and Tom Bol were just finishing getting stuff set up, and began with introductions.  We had 18 folks total, including both instructors.  Based on folks professions, we would be pretty covered for just about any medical emergency.   Two classmates were missing as we had just learned of a near tragic accident they had with a semi truck in town.  Both would be OK, and join us later.  Then we all threw our names into a bucket which would be used for nightly drawing of prizes leading up to a Big Finally on the last night in Yellowstone.  As Tom and George were covering logistics and a little about what to expect for the next week, Tom stopped to introduce a Guest spot… hum?   Diane got up, walked up to the front… picking something up on her way, only to discover while she was out picking up a few food supplies… She had picked up a Cake.  (brat!) See this whole going on a trip came about as part of my 50th Birthday celebration.  I was originally going to Antarctica this year, but due to some unexpected expenses and important Implant surgery we had to put off that trip for a few years… and Found this Great adventure into Snowy Yellowstone.  So now everyone here knows…  Thanks Diane!  (I mean that too!)

We eventually took a break form slides and discussions. Upon returning… there was about 3-1/2 minutes left in the Super Bowl game on the TV in the conference room…  Majority rule, we left the game on until the end… Watching the Steelers Crush the failed hopes and dreams of Arizona!!!!!   Some more discussions, and planning for breakfast and morning meet to head out shooting.  Then just before we broke for the evening, the first Drawing for the week….    Ta Da… Diane Won!  How lucky is that?  She got a 2 or 4GB Flash Drive.  Very Cool!  We also had a chance to meet with Margaret, a very nice lady from Houston, originally from Scotland.  Comments had been circulated about car pooling for travels around until we got to Flagg Ranch, and then returning as well.  I had offered space and Margaret had E-mailed asking to ride with Diane and myself.  So we had a nice cosy group for the week.

Day Two

Well up and ready before sunrise… little light breakfast and we are all on the road towards the pull-outs around the front of the Teton’s for a shoot… Only one thing, No one bothered to tell Mother Nature of our plans and it was such an overcast cloudy morning that we really could not see much of the upper halves of those beautify peaks, not to mention the Sun didn’t peek it’s head out.  

Moose on the loose in the Teton area

Moose on the loose in the Teton area

I think it forgot to get it’s Jimmy Deans Breakfast! (picture the TV commercials)

So while we didn’t bother to stop and shoot the mountains here, we went looking for Moose.  Found one, but she was alone, slightly off for great detailed shots, and there was a lot of ground clutter between her and all us photographers.  But we all got out and got off a number of shots… Heck by the time we left there must have been 4-5 other vehicles that had stopped for some photo’s too.

I had accidentally (like I would do it on purpose) dropped on the icy asphalt the lens hood for the 500mm, Didn’t notice then, but the spring clip to hold this hood in the channel on the front of the lens had popped out… Good thing I saw it before we left our vehicles to head into Yellowstone… I keep a roll of Duct tape under the drivers seat in the Truck… Always comes in handy.  

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Solitair Bull Elk keeping vigil...

A few thin slices wedged between the hood & the lens, a slight twist… and we’re locked in place for the rest of the week!

We were off for Breakfast back in town at The Bunnery.  Oh, we all ate well, as the food was good and plentiful.

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Happy Sleigh Rides through the Elk Refuge.

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"Just look at those fools in those red boxes being paraded past us..."

After Breakfast we started to head out to the National Elk Refuge but seems 3/4-1/2 the team ended up in the Mountaineering store just a few doors down from the Bunnery.  Eventually we got to the Visitor Center for the Refuge where we are loaded onto a coach bud to take us out to meet the sleighs which will take us out into the refuge and closer to the huge herds of Elk.  This is pretty Cool, as the Elk seem less spooked by the folks in the Sleighs, but it’s not like when you are on the ground in the park where you can move around to get the composition you want, or a better one.  We ended up in a sleigh pulled by Trixie and Dixie, 2 Belgium draft horses.  These Ladies were Huge and quite powerful too.  There were few Elk off on their own, and so many of the images are clustered groups or have busy animal backgrounds.  But we got in  close…  And I think just about everyone came away with a Decent Christmas Card shot for next year! 

I think we shoot out there for around 2 hours before we packed it in and headed back towards the visitor center.  From there it was back to the hotels to clean up, change, etc. and then meet later for dinner together.  Dinner was at The Gun Barrel Steak & Game House. Quite a nice place out here in Jackson Hole.  They sat us upstairs practically in a room to ourselves.   The food was Excellent here, and we were pretty stuffed by the time we were ready to leave.  Margaret really wanted to buy Diane and myself dinner for driving this leg of the trip.  She really was sweet.

We dropped Margaret back at the hotel and headed to the square downtown.  I wanted to take some night shots, especially of the lights in the square with my new Canon EOS 5D MKII.  While there was an initial issue with this camera reported with Black Dots, when photographing lights like these… When I picked up my camera, it already had the latest firmware installed, which was reportedly suppose to mitigate this issue.  I still wanted to test this out thoroughly for myself, as well as play with some night shots.  So we shot in the square for about 30-minutes before heading back to the 49’er.  Well it was straight off to bed after downloading all the images from the day.  We were meeting for a quick breakfast at 6:30am before we tried catching sunrise across the Tetons on the way up to Flagg Ranch in the morning. 

 

That’s enough for Part I…   We’ll pick up Day Three in the next Part.

 

 

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map source: Mapquest.com

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 17 February, 2009

Tickle Tuesday…

Just a quick bit of humor and jab at those Nikonians!

Shooting the Falls...
So here we are, Day-5 of the Winter Wonderland III, 2009 Photography Workshop out in Yellowstone National Park.  We stopped near mid-day at Gibbon Falls for some shooting there.   Diane took this shot of me working to get the composition, focus and exposure just right for this shot.  That’s  George Theodore one of the leaders of this workshop on the far left of the image… I love this shot!  George being a N*K*n User is looking at his camera confused…   

OK, In George’s defense we were all trying out a Special Filter Tom Bol (the other trip leader) had brought with.  So Tom was sharing out a number of Singh-Ray Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filters.  These things are weird looking, but can produce some sweet looking images with silky smooth flowing waters dependent upon all your settings.  So like here, in this noon-ish bright sun we were setting up for ISO 100, f/22, for about 10-30 second exposures.  I’d show you one of my images, but as you can see in the image above, I did not put my lens hood back on after setting up the filter… right now, I am less than happy with the images from this location.  But I have some others from later in the week that I think turned out wonderfully.  Since I shot this with my new Canon EOS 5D MKII in Raw… I might do some cropping and see what turns out from there.  Still lots of Details with that long of an exposure.

I have not seen what others ended up with shot yet from this location… so I can’t be too harsh on myself yet.  Plus this was the first time I’ve tried this filter.  It does take some work to get everything set up just right for the shot… But from what I saw preliminary in some of my other shots.  I can say I’d like to try my hand at this filter again!   More images and stories from this trip coming soon… Very Soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 15 February, 2009

Did You Know???

Just a quickie post here for those that drop by or follow my blogging to look at my images.  So, yes some might look small within the pages and blog entries I write… But that is just because the templates, and blog page sizes are limited without spending more $$$ annually for fancy CSS coding options, and custom templates.  

But, Did you know that you can click on these Images?

Prowling Yellowstone National Park

Roaming around Yellowstone National Park During RUT Season

 If You click on any of My Included images within my blog entries, they will open up larger in your browser window so you can enjoy the images more.  You think I’m just carrying this 500mm lens around because I look good wearing it?

Go ahead, click on the image to the right and see what I mean…

 

Don’t worry, you’ll soon have plenty more opportunity to try out this capability as I work on and release the entires about out recent awesome trip out to Yellowstone National Park and the Teton’s in the Snow and Cold and Snow!   Captured some great moments and wildlife… even a tree or two!   (That’s for You Tom!)

 

See You soon!

 
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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 8 February, 2009

Back in the Real World!

Oh… I have had such bad pains!
We have been in the Heart of Yellowstone National Park for the past week…   No Pains in that.  What has had me in withdrawals is the fact that at the Snow Lodge within the park… There IS NO Internet!

Bison along the Madison River in a Snow Storm  -- Yellowstone National Park

Bison along the Madison River in a Snow Storm -- Yellowstone National Park

Arg!  I wanted to be able to blog about our trip, share some images, etc.  So now we are back here at the 49’er Inn in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – even if just for the night… and I am able to get back on-line again.  I am going to have to look into seeing if WordPress has an off-line editing too for creating blog entires (images and all) for times like this.

This trip has been  The Great American Photography Workshops presenting their Winter Wonderland III, 2009 workshop.  We started in Jackson Hole, then ended up leaving our personal vehicles at the Flagg Ranch just outside the South entrance for Yellowstone National Park.  Such good and interesting things to write about, I think I am going to have to write several blog entries in parts about this trip and events.

The Bison image above was taken on our second to last day in the park… It Snowed nearly all day on us, and the wildlife.

Stay Tuned…
I’ll be dropping more images and stories over the next week about not only this trip, but the friendly Canon / N*k*n battering that went back and forth, and information on how my New Canon EOS 5D Mark II worked out.  I tried to test out more and more features and functions with this camera throughout the adventure.
Oh, and the Big surprise on the final night in the park! 

 

Cheers!

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 25 January, 2009

7 Days and Counting…

Ah, the final week before we start our journey across the Midwest out to Jackson Hole Wyoming, and then into Yellowstone National Park for a Photographic Adventure.

GAPW Logo As I have been writing about over the past few months, The Great American Photography Workshops is presenting their Winter Wonderland III, 2009 workshop.  Or as George Theodore mentioned in an E-mail last week ‘it’s more of a tour because we are spending so much time in the field.’  Which is totally OK with me since I want to shoot shoot shoot as much wintertime wildlife as I can, not to mention capturing Old Faithful during multiple lighting conditions including, hopefully some night shots with a starry sky as a backdrop!  

Bull Elk at Dawn

Bull Elk at Dawn

There was some good, entertaining and friendly E-mail banter that went back and forth last week between a number of the participants… I think this is shaping up to be a Great trip!  Tom Bol is the other instructor, and is sounds as if there are 14 participants… so we should have some good conversations and experiences to share together as well.

 
Between getting my New Camera Body last week in time for this trip, finally having my surgery this week and having that go well, and now possibly finding those extra batteries I need for the Canon Eos 5D Mark II…  I am getting Super excited about the possibilities this trip holds.  Heck, My friend Wendy over at Calumet even left me a message that she might even have a line on the BG-E6 Battery Grip for this camera.  Now, If indeed, the Battery order comes through, I’ll have to wait on that grip, since I might be shelling out for 3-Batteries, which I think I’ll take over the grip for now.  That should get me through this adventure, and then give me 2 full sets of batteries when I can afford the grip down the road again.

Prowling Yellowstone National Park

Prowling Yellowstone National Park

So between Work, Dr.’s Visits, surgery, recovering, etc.  I have been trying to shoot different things with the 5D MKII to get a good feel for the functionality of this camera.  I did have an opportunity to do a Valentine’s Day themed Model shoot on Sunday.  WoW!  The details this 21.1 MP Full-Frame camera picks up from about 10-12 feet away using my 70-200mm 2.8 L IS USM zoom is scary compared to what I have been used to seeing.

 The studio we shot in was a bit cool, and it was around 17 degrees outside… As we started, the one model had goose bumps… but in reviewing images on the computer later, the details and sharpness show goose bumps on Goose Bumps!  In another close-up it fully highlights the details in the models contact lenses she was wearing.

Bald Eagle at Sunset -- Yellowstone National Park

Bald Eagle at Sunset -- Yellowstone National Park

So noticing the amount of details this camera is picking up has me excited about what more details I should be able to pick up in my Wildlife endeavors.  

Well, I got a little bit off track there but we are now in the final stages of making sure we have all the gear we will need for this adventure.  I feel sorry for the folks at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone.  Looks like there are a number of Photography groups in there during our stay.  With all of us recharging batteries, phones, etc. in the evening, that’s going to create a bit hefty electric bill…  Clothing wise, Cabela’s can be your friend!
Our checklist looks primarily like this:

  • Long underware;
  • boot;
  • memory cards;
  • batteries;
  • Charges;
  • Laptop with Lots of Storage Space…

What else could we possibly need?  Well, besides the Cameras…
Looks like we’ll have a chance to play cold weather shooting too before we leave.  Sounds like on Saturday we are heading up to Lake Sinnissippi in Wisconsin to watch and shoot some Ice Driving with the Badger Audi Car Club, and a number of local drivers from CVO.   Nothing like standing out on the Ice in Zero degree weather with 20MPH winds!  My guess is by the time we get to the Teton’s and Yellowstone, we’ll be all set for the weather and the beauty around the parks.

 

Now let’s  hope we have Wildlife willing to come out and play in the cold with us!

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 16 January, 2009

Tribute to Jean Keene

Jean Keene a.k.a. the “Eagle Lady” has passed away.

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On Tuesday, 13Jan09 Jean Keene passed away in Homer Alaska.

Jean has been feeding the eagles of Homer Spit during winters for over 30 years from the spot she made her home back in the ’70’s.  Many photographers should be in debit to her for providing the opportunity for close up and group shots this provided.  While it was not winter when we visited nor did we see any Eagle there, we did have a chance to briefly meet Jean.

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(L-R) Michael, Jean, and Scott in her Garden

I fist spoke to Jean via E-mail back in 2005 while we were planning a trip to Alaska for my friends 50th birthday.

We had spoke about stopping by for a visit. So when we were out in Homer wondering around, Diane kept insisting we find Jeans home and stop in to say `hello`.

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(L-R) Diane, Jean, and Scott in Jean's Garden

We eventually came across Jeans place, and she invited us into her garden to sit a visit. She was such a sweet individual with a lot of heart. I have cherished that meeting and the photo’s we have from that visit.

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Jean accepting a delivery at her home...

I had also ordered a Biography titled `The Eagle Lady` by Cary Anderson an Alaskan Photographer which both Cary and Jean had autographed. This is a wonderful book all about Jean’s life and adventures in Homer and with the Eagles.

As in life, when it was her time to go, she did it Her way, quietly at home. Near her Eagles. There are over 80 wonderful images in this book which only adds to reinforce memories of our time in Homer and that visit with Jean.

There is a cool and very friendly bar on the Spit, Salty Dawg Saloon.  One of Alaska’s oldest Saloons, just look for the lighthouse.  It’s located just down at the end of the Spit… Mossy on in and have a drink in honor of Jean.  Leave your own mark up on the wall/ceiling too!

Jean Keene’s Memorial Service Info.  Post your condolences.

As Diane expresses: `From the Thoughts of one Potawatomi, You have earned Your Eagle Feathers.`

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We Raise our Glasses to You Jean!

 

Jean You will be missed!  We hope you find peace.

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A few YouTube related video’s:

The Eagles of Homer-A Story inspired by Jean Keene-
The Eagle Lady – Book
Homer Eagles in a Winter Storm

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 16 January, 2009

My EOS 5D MKII…     Delivery Day!

Well the Day I’ve Been awaiting… patiently, has arrived!

On Monday Evening I received a call from Calumet saying they had in a Canon EOS 5D MKII with my name on it.  I needed time to juggle monies between bank accounts to spend it, and was dealing with a busted water heater at the time anyhow.

It’s Bigger, It’s Better… It’s All Mine!

New Canon EOS 5D MKII resting at home by the hearth!

New Canon EOS 5D MKII resting at home by the hearth!

So after the plumbing guys came and left today, I took a long late lunch to pick up my prized new camera body.  Took my 40D with, which had my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L IS USM lens attached.  I wanted to see what the difference would be from the view finder with something I was used to.  This was an easier lens to tote around into the store than my 500mm!  This will really be my first chance to functionally shoot with a Full-Frame Sensored camera, let alone own one.   So I’m pretty excited for a number of reasons.

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Front Porch Light -- Close-up

I got to the Oak Brook Calumet Photographic location watching the outdoor temperatures drop along the way.  It was now a balmy 7˚F with a light breeze.  I was surprised the store wasn’t too busy.  Wendy spotted me before I made it to the counter, and went and grabbed the box.  Now was the magic moment. Up until this point I have only seen images and video of this camera.  This was the first time I actually had my hands on one, and it was Mine!  Quickly swapping the 70-200 from the 40D to the 5D MKII I began checking out simple functions and views.  Calumet has their own brand of what they call Pro Series Memory Cards and their ProSpec UDMA 8GB Compact Flash Card is $79 right now, so I asked for one of those to use, I’d buy it and give it a work out.  These new UDMA cards are suppose to write much faster, and with shooting RAW in Burst mode I could use all the write speed I could get.   Shot off a few images about the store as Wendy began processing my order.  I’ll keep those for my test records, since I don’t want to post of images from folks there without asking them.

Wendy did mention that there was already a Firmware Update released.  I mentioned that yes I knew, as a matter of fact I had already downloaded it in anticipation of having this camera before the Big Trip to Yellowstone NP… in just 17-days now, but who’s counting!  Later on in the evening I would discover this particular camera body had already been updated to the latest firmware release.

When I got back home, I had to check in with some work stuff first, and follow up on some stuff I’m working on.  Eventually I did get back to the camera, and began to shoot some more test shots.  Diesel and Buddy, our dogs make some good subjects, so I volunteered them…  Shot a few outside the house too, but it was getting darker especially for some of the Snow test shots I wanted to do.

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Front Porch Light, Full view

One thing that noticeably missing to me is the extended Battery Grip.  Usually I have purchased the grip when I’ve bought the camera.  This time there was such a jump in price and since I’m basically paying cash that was a bit much at this time. (Yes… I actually saved & scrimped  to put away the cash up front for this.  I don’t think I have put any of my gear on credit.) Average prices seems to be in the $270-299 range.  Quite a jump from the battery grip on the 40D, which I paid $189.  When you get used to the body weight and size with the grip on, it’s hard to adjust to the body without the grip there.  Besides, I love the extra power of having 2 batteries extending my shoot time.  Even when shooting in extremely cold weather like the conditions we shot at the Mississippi last weekend.

Sample Test Images

So These are just a few Quickie Test Images I’ve shot within the first Few Hours after arriving back home with this camera. No Tripods, No extensive setup, I just looked for a few things which I could check details, textures, lighting.  Between now and Sunday I hope to have time to play and experiment more. Especially since I am doing a Valentine’s Day Themed shoot with a number of models.  Should make for some sweet opportunities to stretch out the legs of this new camera’s capabilities.

Random Observations

  • ISO setting…  While I do tend to check out my setting, and change things as conditions change, I actually Did Not check to see where The ISO setting was when I started shooting things.  Turns out, and these shots shown here and every thing I shot that first day was set at ISO 50.  Digitally I don’t think I have shot as low as 50 before.  I so used to shooting at ISO 400, unless I’m shooting in a highly extreme condition either low light or lots of Sunlight.  I have shoot full outdoor events at ISO 100 when that sun is quite bright and little clouds.  I have done studio shoot at ISO 100 as well when we have high-speed controlled lighting situations. There have been times at Yellowstone early in the morning or evening when I’ve shot at ISO 800.  But like I said, under most normal conditions I’m shooting at ISO 400. 

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    Diesel watching TV with Gramdma

  • Image counter [Shots remaining]  In years past this was not as big an issue since 1-2-4GB Compact Flash cards didn’t exceed a three digit image count.  As an example, on my 40D with a 4GB card I can get ~297 Raw images, and ~947 JPEG images (Fine).  With an 8GB CF Card, I get ~596 Raw and well close to 2,000 JPEG images. And on a 12GB CF I get roughly ~943 Raw and over 2,700 JPEG’s.  I was hopping that given the image sizes this produced, and the video, they would do as they have with the 1D-series cameras and provide us with a 4-digit counter. They did Not!  Why is this an issue?  maybe I’m just being anal about this, but I like to see those images clicking off knowing I’m getting shots recorded, without having to go back to the LCD screen & preview what I’ve just shot.  When I am out shooting Autocross action I shoot JPEG for obvious reasons. (You try shooting a whole day of 7,000+ images and convert those from RAW…  You’ll be at it all week!) On average using two cameras, I shoot anywhere from 10-20 images per car as they make a run, sometimes more.  and the cars are running back-to-back with little if any time between cars.  So I don’t have time to be constantly checking the review screen after every car to know I recorded shots.  To me, seeing that counter run down is an easy quick assurance that things are going well.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I have a lull in the action, and I do check to make sure the shots are looking fine, but that’s more to make sure that I am shooting with the right settings for the conditions and I’m producing good usable images.
  • Batteries! No One seem to have Batteries in stock?  What happened there Canon?  Everyone I call either has batteries on back order, or can’t get them.  So You put out a fine camera, you offer a battery grip (which I couldn’t get if I wanted either, it’s backordered!) and we can’t get extra batteries for single replacement use OR to populate the Grip with  So now I have this Great camera, but can only use it for about 800 shots (estimated battery life)
  • Memory Card Extremes -The ProSpec CF card temperature specs Vs the SanDisk.  So far to date I have been a big big fan of the SanDisk memory cards.  Reliability, Reliability, Reliability.  They have a fantastic track record, if there is an issue with the card, their service is as good.  But one of the biggest reasons go back to when I was originally planning the trip to Antarctica.  I wanted to only buy cards that would survive that environment, as well as some of the cold weather we have shot out along the Mississippi and Rock rivers with our Midwest winters. Heck, Last time I was in Alaska it was -40˙F when I arrived, and had only `warmed up to` -23˙F by the time I left 2-months later.  So I have been buying the SanDisk Extreme III (I do one 1-2 Extreme IV’s as well) as they are rated to operate from -13˙F – 185˙F.  Not that I plan to be anywhere close to the high end, I know I will easily work within the low end environments.  Oddly after I looked it up since it’s not within the packaging anywhere, the Calumet ProSpec UDMA CF Cards are also rated for that same temp range.  So I see how this fairs over time, since that $79 for an 8GB UDMA card is pretty nice as far as I’m concerned.
  • Batteries…. Did I mention I can’t find batteries in Stock Anywhere???

Trying Video

Now I don’t have the budget nor accessories gear pool to use that Vincent Laforet had access to during his shooting of Reverie.  But I am going to attempt to do a little HD video documentation of our Winter Photography workshop out in Yellowstone which we leave for at the end of the month.  If you have Not seen his video, go check it out at the above link, or even his blog. It will be interesting to see what Wildlife HD video looks like shot using the 500mm lens.  I have shot a few <1-minute clips, with the camera mounted to a tripod but nothing worthy of sharing yet… still testing this out. Canon posted a few sample videos as well, I’ll have to find that link and post it here. The one of the bird I thought was rather intriguing since I do shoot so much wildlife.  I’ll have to check out some auto racing video when Autocross season starts up in April.
I had already read some miscellaneous blogs and articles about the quality of the video. But one things that struck me was so many folks think there won’t be problems when trying to shoot HD quality video and hand holding the camera.

Well, I need to get off to bed, and ready for work.  Man I need longer days to check out this camera some more and be completely comfortable with it’s knobs and feature locations so I don’t look like a bumbling idiot.  Especially given the average temperatures at Yellowstone during this time of year.  Not to mention the negative temp Highs they are predicting for the Midwest later this week!  Now where did I leave that manual?

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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 12 January, 2009

The Eagle’s are Among Us!

It’s that time of year again when the Eagles migrate down the Mississippi River for the Winter.  Young and old they gather around the Locks and Dams during the cold weather months from Wisconsin to Alton, Illinois.

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Me... Shooting the 500mm at perched Eagles at L&D #14

While the weather is cold, freezing or below, the Mississippi is usually frozen over except just before and just past the Locks and Dams where there is open water’s flowing into and out from these dams.  The Eagles take advantage of this to feed and play.  And we can watch their aerial acrobatics as they go about these wonderful flight shows.  Word on the IBET list was there were some high counts this year at the L&D’s so all we needed now was a good Sunny day.

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Adult Bald Eagle along Mississippi in Winter 04Jan09 -- L&D#14

On this particular trip out there for us, the First Sunday of the New Year… the weather was suppose to be partly cloudy.  I must admit, the entire foggy and misty drive out to the river, I was getting more and more skeptical as the clouds didn’t seem to be lessening, nor was the fog initially.   So much for seeing any sunrise and catching some eagles at 1st light…    My plan was to try making it out to L&D #13 by dawn…  Now it’s been a few year since we were out there as last year this time, I was off working a project in Fairbanks Alaska for a few months.  So my exact remembrance of getting there was fuzzy… and of course, I didn’t look it up or double check before heading out.  I was pretty sure that one (L&D#13) was on the Illinois side, but we got off track in Fulton (yup, we had gown past the Dutch Windmill and all), but would up driving through some subdivisions.  So as it was starting to get light, we decided to head down stream towards L&D #14.  We did stop briefly for about 8 or more Eagles perched just off the roadside on Rt 67 on the Iowa side, just North of L&D14.  We pulled into the lot carefully as there were a few other photographers in the lot shooting up into the trees.

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Diving in for the Catch!

Lights getting brighter now, little sun peeking in and out from those clouds.   3-4 Eagles in the trees here, no clean shots with all the branches.  Seems to be an impatient and belligerent juvenile eagle that was trying to snatch the fish from any other eagle heading for the trees, or even while they were in the tree with that fish.   Frustrating to some but making for interesting flight.  And we sure had a vocal show going on as well.

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"Hey I got one too!"

Quite a few birds flying over the river too.  I made my way closer towards the dam along the planked walkway.   Grabbed a few flight shots over the river.   A good number of ducks and a few cormorants down on the rocks along the water.   Did get a glimpse of a Belted Kingfisher fluttering near the shore, but I couldn’t turn myself and the camera quickly enough as I was an a pile of boulders.  Watching two adult bald eagles sitting in another tree hoping one would cone diving into the water, I was soon blessed.    One soon did just that, and right in front of me and my lens!

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Diane nailed me shooting above the river at LD#14

We did drive by Credit Island, but were surprised to find it pretty much closed off.  You can drive around to the right for about 300 feet, and to the left side for maybe 600 feet… So there is clearly no easy means to get back to A) where the eagles hang out along the shore line further back, OR B) to the one far corner down the left side where the bird feeder is and all the varying birds that hang out there.

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Fly-by Over Head...

Something I look forward to every trip out.  Not sure if this is a budget cutback issue or what, but for all the years I have been coming out here I have Never seen this closed off like this.  Don’t get me wrong now, you could park the truck and hike out there, but with the road un-plowed, snow-covered, and icy… it would not have been an easy hike with the camera gear in tow on un-sure footing…  I was hoping for some more woodpecker shots this year too!

Off back towards LD #13 we headed.  The sky’s were now getting some blue sky clearings and the Sun shining through.  Temps were dropping now below 20, but it was the wind on this side of the river that was really making things harder to work with.  20-30 mph winds right into your face makes things a little harder to breath, the hands get colder in light gloves (ok, so I prefer the lighter gloves as I have problems with the trigger when wearing my heavier warmer gloves!) Even worse, Camera Battery life drops off like a rock tied to an anchor!

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"It's MY Fish and I'm Not Sharing!"

Despite the faster frame -rate I have with the 1D MKIIn, I switched to using my 40D on the 500mm lens just for the slightly better reach.  By the time we left the river to head back home, I was on my third set of batteries in this camera!  Thank goodness I have three sets for this body too.  (I have the extended Grip on this camera, which allows me 2 batteries for better performance and life over the default single battery)

We will definitely need the cold weather covers I have ordered from the UK in Yellowstone, since it is generally this cold during the month of February there… Hope those arrive soon.  I think I better get a few more Heat packs just to be on the safe side too!!!

Tight turn right in front of platform LD#13

Tight turn right in front of platform LD#13

I’ll post some shots of those in use once they get here and comment on their performance as well.

So here a few more shots from the day’s events between the three Lock and Dams we visited…  Hope you enjoy them.

I’ve included a few that Diane took of me at work…  She likes the ‘Behind the Scene’ type stuff… and I just sometimes like the odd way I look when I’m shooting…

Between work and everything else I have going on over the next month,

I sure hope to make it out to the river a few more times before the spring thaw clears the ice and the Eagles have headed back up North!
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All Images Copyrighted © 2009 michael T. sedwick
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Posted by: merlyn9 | 9 January, 2009

Happy Birthday to the King of Rock -n- Roll!

Just a simple Happy Birthday wish to Elvis Aaron Presley!

 

My Mother-in-Law will be happy!  May She enjoy a day of endless Elvis movies on Cable today & her special night out to an Elvis Show & Dinner!

8)  8)  8)

 

 

 

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