Today in the morning I involuntary plundered right into a struggle between these two tree ghosts. The trees have eyes. Sometimes it’s really scary out there in the woods with those gnarled trees around shrouded by fog and dimly lit by the twilight of the dawn
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Sandy River Basin from Jonsrud Viewpoint・Sandy・Oregon・USA
Soft morning sunlight bathes a mixed Douglas-fir and black cottonwood forest partially ensconced in fog in this view of the Sandy River basin from high atop Jonsud Viewpoint. I was rolling with my boy Jeff Chen, who amusingly asked en route if he thought we’d be the only ones there to take in the sunrise. I knew there was little chance of that, what with this being just a mile off the main thoroughfare through the town of Sandy, Oregon, a common waypoint for Portlanders heading toward Mt. Hood by way of its southwestern approach. Not only that, we were cutting things close having decided at the last second to switch our morning destination from Chanticleer Point to here.
Sure enough, we managed to squeeze into the last remaining non-RV parking spot and wedged in tight between several other photographers already there. As I was setting up my gear, the gentleman to my left suddenly turned to me: “Are you Tula Top?” I don’t think he noticed, but I regarded him cautiously. After quickly but occultly eyeing him up and down to make sure he wasn’t harboring any scary shiny things on his person (e.g., badge, hand cuffs, gun, shanks, syringes), I replied in the affirmative. “I’m David Leahy, nice to meet you!” he said. And Facebook shrinks the world yet again.
It truly is flattering to have someone I’ve never met before aside from online circles recognize me in the field, but it’s happening more and more often. As you can see, David’s one heckuva photographer, and he managed to capture Mt. Hood on this morning in a dramatic fashion that I couldn’t quite pull off myself. Instead, I decided to focus on the vapors slithering through the forest like a white serpent and took advantage of the 300mm reach of my lens to compress the view. David came away with a similarly atmospheric image captured before the sun fully gained the eastern hills.
I came to learn that David is a schoolteacher, and a wonderfully dedicated one at that. Between frames we talked about his profession, about how I could name all of my homeroom teachers through grade school (Mrs. Zollo, Mrs. Klaas, Mrs. Cripe, Mrs. Irvine, Mrs. Schneider, Mrs. Klass again, and Mrs. Phelps) and how much gratitude I owed them for their patience and guidance. No jokes here: teachers are a wholly undervalued and underappreciated lot. Next to parents I think they hold the greatest ability to shape the character and enrich the experience of our youth, and those that took that supreme responsibility to heart will always hold a special place in mine.
So please, carry on, good sir. It was a privilege to meet you. 🙂
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Taken in Holland.
Post-processing: I changed the contrast, darkened the edges and reduced noise.
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This is a shot from many years ago, while on a little weekend trip to Mount Rainier with my friends Miles Morgan and David Thompson. The trip was fun, but the shooting didn’t come as easy as we would have liked. This image was taken on the last morning of our trip, a morning that we didn’t really think we’d be shooting due to the dense fog and low visibility. Fortunately the mountain made a brief appearance towards the end of sunrise and I was able to fire off a few series of images before it all went belly-up again.
This one was one of my first attempts at perspective blending back in the day… before I knew that it was even a thing. In this I utilized two different focal lengths to achieve the look I was after. I shot the foreground/midground areas at 16mm (focus stacked with 5 focus points) to get that “wide angle” look, then panned slightly upward and zoomed in to about 24mm and photographed the mountain/background to bring it in a little closer. The stitching was done by hand after some warping, masking together the different focal lengths across where the midground and background meet. After all the tedious blending was done, it was my standard approach of working the light with some dodge/burn layers, some luminosity masking to balance the tonal values throughout, some texture work, and some color work painted in by hand. A couple hours of work total. This may be a bit over the top for some, but I quite like the surreal look in this one.
Anyways, I recently released a new post-processing instructional video. It’s packed with some unique techniques and theories about processing you may not find anywhere else. People seem to really be enjoying the videos and have had nothing but great things to say, so I *think* they are helping people… it’s been awesome to see the many before/after shots people have been emailing me. Be sure to check the videos out if you are into that sort of thing. It’s all on my website, as well as more photos, photo tour info, processing instruction via Skype like everyone else is doing, etc, etc.
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