Category Archives: Tech Stuff

A landscape for while I’m away – Nik Efex Pro 2 Review

Mt Jarvis at sunrise, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mt Jarvis at sunrise, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.


Hey Folks,

Catching up on some photo editing and processing and deleting and keywording and updating and blah blah blah. Just as boring as that stuff is looking at new (for me) software programs to assist with that stuff. One I ran across, that I’d heard about for a while now is Nik HDR Efex Pro 2; I gave it a whirl the other day, and so far, I like it. A very streamlined hdr process is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Something easy and intuitive, to ease the pain of processing hdr images.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, hdr is an acronym for High Dynamic Range; most of the time, we simply mean we take multiple exposures of the same frame, and then blend those exposures together to best present the wide range of contrast in the scene.

So this image is a blend of 7 different exposures, taken one stop apart. I converted the original nikon RAW files to tif files, via Nikon Capture NX2. Efex Pro 2 quickly processed the images and then offers a variety of presets for different modes of compression and toning, etc. I found the program pretty easy and intuitive, which was something that is rapidly becoming a real priority when I look at new software programs. Continue reading

Glacial Stream, Root Glacier, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

Glacial Stream, Root Glacier, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Glacial Stream and ogives, Root Glacier, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

From my most recent trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and beyond. This is an aerial photo from above the Root Glacier, near Kennecott and McCarthy, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The small stream is made up largely of runoff water from Stairway Icefall, a massive 7000′ vertical wall of ice that effectively form the “headwaters” of the Root Glacier.

This is an image I’ve wanted to capture for sometime now; I’ve seen various similar images of this same stream from a few photographers, including my friend Ron Niebrugge, and often thought it would be a cool subject to shoot. Indeed it is.  Continue reading

Waterfall and sunset at Skolai Pass

Waterfall and sunset, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A waterfall, known as Roane Falls, glows in the light of a colorful sunset. Near Chitistone Pass, looking toward Skolai Pass, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Roane Falls near Chitistone Pass, is a little known, and even less photographed, waterfall in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This is another image from the same sunset in the previous image here.

We were on a hiking trip in the area last week, and were treated to some gorgeous weather (along with the obligatory nasty weather as well);  The days were well spent walking, talking, eating, and tooling around on the tundra, exploring a glacier, watching wildlife and enjoying this spectacular place. Skolai Pass in the summer is about as grand a place as I know of.

So you won’t find Roane Waterfall on a map, but longtime readers of this blog might remember how it got it’s name. If not, use the search function in the sidebar here and dig around a little. 🙂 This waterfall has appeared on this blog before!

I shot this with multiple exposures, then blended them together in the computer using a combination of the automated HDR tool in Photoshop (CS4) and also manually masking layers of the original frames. I find the HDR program often adds a funky look to the colors, particularly in the foreground, that I can’t seem to properly correct.

I added very little saturation to the sky at all; in fact, I left the waterfalls a little earlier than I should’ve because the sky got even more intense after I moved up the hillside to the location of the previous photo linked above.

Folks often ask whether I bring a tripod on my backpacking trips for photography, due the extra weight and ‘stuff’ factor; I can’t remember the last time I did not bring a tripod on a backpacking trip. Though I don’t always use it for every photo I take, it’s a critical part of my photography; when the light and moments provide the most spectacular opportunities, they almost always require a tripod. There’s be no way I could’ve made an image like this one without the three-legged camera holder.



RAW files and stock photo sales

Bull Moose in fall color, Denali National Park, Alaska.

A bull moose standing on the fall tundra in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Vegetation includes Dwarf Birch and Alaska Willow. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks

Recently I saw a tweet the other day from photographer Richard Bernabe: “Just had a photo editor demand raw files to process as they see fit. I turned the deal down.”

I saw and enjoyed at least some of the following conversation. We discussed the merit of sending out a RAW file to a photo editor instead of some other file format, such as a tiff or a jpeg.

For myself, I can’t see any reason to not send a RAW file if an editor or graphic artist requests it, unless there was some very highly unusual and extenuating circumstance; the only one that springs to mind is if the final image was a manual blend of multiple exposures, and/or a panoramic stitch that I’d put together. Even in those circumstances, I suspect I’d most likely explain to the person I was dealing with about the amount of time involved in finishing the product from camera to computer screen, and suggest they simply use the finished 8-bit tif or jpeg file, but if they felt they really wanted the RAW files, I can’t see why not; it’d mean they have to do (in some cases) a whole lot of work I’d already done, but if that’s what they wanted, I can’t see a good reason to refuse. Continue reading

Click This; April 2011

Brown bear backlit at dawn, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A coastal brown bear, Ursus arctos, walks along Brooks River shoreline at dawn, backlit, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.


Hey Folks

Next up in this series of news of the month pieces.

This month, I haven’t been spending as much time in the woods, and even less reading the news. Mostly, I’ve been grating sandpaper over my eyeballs … more commonly called “working on website updates”. I need to take about a  year off, and learn how to do this properly, then start over from scratch and rebuild everything (yeah, that’s gunna happen).

Below I’ve compiled various bits from around the web that held my failing attention long enough to actually read through the piece.  Feel free to add your own stuff of note, I’d love to see some things I’ve missed.

In a completely random order: Continue reading

Photography; gear matters

Bald Eagle Portrait, Homer, Alaska.

An adult Bald Eagle silhouetted headshot, on perch, Homer, Alaska. (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). This photo was taken with photo equipment, by a photographer. The 2 worked together. The eagle co-operated only briefly. Pesky eagles. Click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I read it again last night. This nonsense has to stop. Why do photographers so often have such a hard time simply acknowledging that what we do is inherently technological? As such, technological advances (i.e., new gear) can (and typically do) play an enormous role in the work we produce. Perhaps much more so than most other art forms.

You’ve all seen the kind of commentary I’m talking about; another piece about how painters don’t talk endlessly about their paintbrushes. Or, even more inanely, how if Art Wolfe were to shoot with a P&S camera, he’d still produce a remarkable portfolio. It’s the photographer, not the camera, that produces great work, blah, blah, blay.

Right? Continue reading

Click This – March 2011

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks

The next of the monthly series for 2011. The biggest news, of course, in photography this month was the Oscars. I, of course,  missed them. Again. Ahh well – there goes pop culture, I spose.

The next biggest piece of news is that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time out of town, tooling around in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, enjoying the mountains. A few days here, a  few days there; beats the heck out of navigating the treacherous icy roads of Anchorage. And much more interesting than reading the news. 🙂

Below is what caught my eye this month. I’ve been in the mtns a bit, so might have missed some good stuff. Feel free to add your own stuff of note.

In no particular order: Continue reading

RSS Feeds and WordPress

Sunrise over Kuskulana River and the Kuskulana Gorge, fall colors, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Sunrise over Kuskulana River and the Kuskulana Gorge, fall colors, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I received a note the other day (thanks Warren) about my RSS feeds being messed up. Is anyone else having any problems with it? Is anyone else subscribed to the RSS feeds? Does anyone else read this? Is anyone ACTUALLY out there?

No, seriously, if anyone is having any trouble with it, please let me know. The problem so far, is apparently twofold;

1) the feed seems to only offer the first 2 or 3 letters of the title of the post, and

2) posts get repeated in the feed.

I suspect the latter problem is my fault, for not unclicking the “Notify Subscribers” button at the bottom of the WordPress Dashboard when I edit a published post. I have no idea why the title of the post gets cutoff in the feed. I watch the blog through google Reader and it works fine for me (as an aside, google reader (Sadly google reader is no more) works great – I use it daily for my blog reading and newspapers.  If you’re unsure what a “reader” is, it’s a page you can set up for yourself, with your own account, like an email account, where you can subscribe to different “feeds” – such as blogs or newspapers, etc, etc. Everything the paper publishes with get posted, with headlines and usually a short blurb) in the reader – scan it for articles of interest, open them and read them – hence .. “reader“; tonsa fun!!!).

Anyway – so i’m not sure why the “”default” RSS feed tab format in FireFox web browser on a PC” shows my RSS feed all messed up. the titles (I saw via an email sent to me), say

“Aussiefoto (that’s me!) has published a new blog post: Stu..”
“Aussiefoto has published a new blog post: Bro..”
“Aussiefoto has published a new blog post: Ba..”

and on and on. If anyone out there has any ideas how to fix this so it works a bit more user friendly, please advise me, either in comments below, or via email. Thanks so much. And I’ll try to click “No” on the “Notitify Subscribers” button when I edit any posts I’ve published. I think that will solve the repeated postings problem ( I hope so – what I will REALLY try to do is properly edit my stuff BEFORE publishing it).

On to other more important matters. If you’re not subscribing to this blog, this might be a perfect time to sign up. And I’ll whack another 10% off  a print, up to 16″x20″, if you do so. just click on “Subscribe to the Blog Feed” below (you have to have an RSS reader setup), or enter your email in the box to the right and click “sign up” (this sends the post to you, without the photo, I believe, via email). That’s how easy it is. Networked Blogs (no longer functioning) is not an RSS feed, but it kinda works in a similar way. Kinda – you have to be on facebook to use it.

If you have a reader set up, you can also click on the appropriate widget in the sidebar, toward the bottom – there are options for Google Reader, (No longer an option) Yahoo, Newsburst (no longer), etc, etc. Google Reader is the best.(Update: as most of these RSS readers have gone by the wayside, I suggest you subscribe via the sidebar sign up).

That way, then you too can get messed up, repeated, truncated posts in your RSS feed. 🙂 Just kidding – hopefully, I’ll get the problem sorted out asap.

For what it might be worth, I am subscribed to about 50 feeds in my google reader; many of which are blogs by my friends, photographers, hikers, etc, but also newspapers and whatnot. All kinds of goodies. Some I delete if they don’t appease me. Most of the major newspapers offer a feed to particular subjects, such as “political news”, “sports”, international news”, “environment”, etc, etc. That way you can subscribe to just get feeds on subjects that might interest you. Worth setting up, in my opinion.

Again, if anyone can offer some input on how to rectify these 2 issues I just mentioned, I’d really appreciate. I’ll offer a print up to 8″x10″ if someone can solve it for me. Thanks.



PS – oh .. the photo above is of the Kuskulana River .. folks who’ve been to McCarthy, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park might recognize the scene, the bridge goes right over it. In the fall, the colder temperatures slow the glacial melt down, and the river water level subsides dramatically; as does the amount of silt and dirt it carries, meaning it clears right up. Here it is almost a clear pristine turquoise – gorgeous, and not at all like the seething, roaring brown cesspit is can be in the summer.

Is Facebook the online version of Walmart?

A beaver (Castor canadensis) hauling willow back to his lodge, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Beaver, (Castor canadensis), hauling willow back to his lodge for the winter, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

You undoubtedly heard the news; today’s bling is Social Networking. You need to be on Facebook and you need to Tweet (loud and often). You need people to Digg your Flickrworld, you need to be Linked In, Hooked Up and Decked Out. You need to do this because you can’t afford not to, because everyone else is doing it, and because if you want to get ahead in life, to succeed, you need to do what everyone else is doing. Right?

It’s true, so I jumped right in. In the last few months I’ve opened the pages of Facebook and Tweeted my first Tweet, and just this week started a Flickr photo account. Additionally, my guiding business, Expeditions Alaska, is now Linked In. Social networking, I’ve been instructed, is the key to my future success and now, after wrapping up a summer of hiking and backpacking in the mountains, I’m giving it a shot.

It’s an interesting and somewhat challenging process. You don’t need me to write about the ways in which successful folks engage this ‘social networking’, as this has been covered elsewhere far more effectively than I might manage. The topic here is the pervasive, engulfing nature of such sites as Twitter and Facebook, etc. According to their stats page Facebook has more than 300 million active users (irony of the term ‘users’ duly noted). Continue reading

Quaking Aspen bole blurs

Careful panning of the camera, during a long exposure, blurs the boles of these aspen, Wrangell - St. Elias national Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

I was looking through some older images tonight, and found this one from last fall. This is from a little stand of Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) that I’ve photographed a few times. I’d actually been looking for some wildlife to photograph, but was thwarted yet again in my quest, so, as the light faded, I headed for this stand of aspen. I had photographed them a number of times, but never really played with the camera panning technique here before. This was a situation where digital photography was a real help; I could take an image, review the frame on the LCD on the back of the camera, and see what I liked, or disliked, and figure out what I needed to do in order to create the kind of image I was looking for.

Now, generally I don’t post the ‘photo techs’ on images, because I think to do is largely useless information. Continue reading