Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Jan 20, 2009

When you got to go...

Posted by Amami Superman

What's up with me? I woke up early, AGAIN, today and decided to go take some pictures. It was a little after 6:00AM and the morning sky was starting to brighten and you could tell it was going to be a beautiful day. I wanted to take some photos of a waterfall I know of to the south of where I live. Back when I used to race my bikes I would always practice on the off roads in the mountains. One of the roads I used to take home long time ago was only accessible by bike due to landslides. That road had a pretty big waterfall and I thought I would hike up the road and go see what it was like.

I was surprised to find that they sorta fixed the road and I was able to get all the way up to the waterfall in my 4WD. Well, needless to say, the waterfall wasn't as grand as I remembered it. Maybe it was just that time of year and the amount of water coming off the falls was very little. I don't know. I just remember it being bigger.

"Well," I thought, "I guess I'll take a few since I'm here." I don't know, it didn't feel right taking a picture of a dinky little waterfall. It's kind of like when you go to the garden and go to pull up a carrot to eat only to find the carrot you pulled up is way too small from what you were looking for. Oh well.

I started at the bottom way down no where near the waterfall. Every angle I chose didn't seem right. I would take a few shots and move to a new spot. Take a few more and move to a new spot. This went on for a bit until I was almost at the top just under the waterfall. I wasn't satisfied with any of the pictures I took. I did chose one, however, to retouch in Photoshop and show you. The only reason I'm proud of this picture is, I took it with completely manual settings. No auto anything.

Here is the original untouched photo.

Shutter Speed: 3.0 sec
Exposure Program: Manual
F-Stop: f/32.0
Aperture Value: f/32
Max Aperture Value: f/5.1
ISO Speed Ratings: 100
Focal Length: 38.0mm
Lens: 18.0-55.0mm f/3.5-5.6

As you can see, it's not much to talk about. I did try to make it look a little more interesting with Photoshop. Here's that picture.

Didn't do a super whole lot to it. Just messed with the variable settings and gave it a soft glow. Giving a photo in Photoshop a soft glow is pretty easy. There are loads of different techniques but I use one that's pretty simple and looks nice.

1. Duplicate layer.
2. Select duplicate layer and add a Gaussian blur of about 20 pixels.
3. Duplicate this layer
4. Select top most duplicate layer and change the blending mode to Soft Light.
5. Select the middle duplicate layer and change the blending mode to Lighten.
6. Adjust the opacity of these two layers until you feel comfortable with the amount of glow you have.

Something to note about this method, the amount of blur you give for the Gaussian blur may vary depending on the quality of your photo.

When I was leaving to go take these pictures this morning, Hikari's older brother, Kazuhito was strapping his surfboard to his friend's car and I told them I was going out to take some photos. They told me they were going to the same area to go surfing so I thought I would stop by and take some photos. It was pretty tough taking pictures like this. I had to keep it on manual focus because the camera kept wanting to focus on the waves in the foreground. So that with the zoom kept me busy taking these pictures. I think the guy in front is Kazuhito, my wife's older brother.

I don't know who this guy is. He was getting in the water about where I was taking photos so I took a few of him.

I think this is a shot of Daigo, the guy who runs a surf shop with Kazuhito.

It was about this time that I could feel some pressure building and I knew it was time to head home. I don't want to sound disgusting or anything but, how does your butt now when it's close to a toilet? Seriously! I can't count how many close calls I've had making it home in the nick of time. How does your butt know when you open the bathroom door and you're going for your button and zipper to lay on the pressure? Sorry if I came across in a gross kind of way. But it is something that makes me wonder...

So I was at home and it was such a nice day, I asked Hikari if she wanted to go for a drive. I told her we were going to the mountains to look for waterfalls. I had heard of one waterfall that was pretty hard to get to. You have to walk up the river quite a ways after leaving your car and then do a bit of rock climbing.

We got to the spot where we leave the car and started to hike up the river. As we got farther into the mountains, the rocks grew into boulders. Now I know what they meant by "rock climbing". We got as far as Hikari could go and after that was impassable unless you wanted to wade across the water. I had come prepared for this. I put my camera and lenses in big Zip-lock bags and brought a big heavy duty trash back to put my camera case in. I took my shoes and socks off along with my shirt.

So there I was in shorts and a t-shirts getting ready to wade across this river. Now mind you, even though I live on a sub-tropical island, river water is still COLD. I got my feet wet moving to the rock where I planned on getting in and I cringed at how cold it was. I got down to easy my self in the water, all along Hikari is telling me to be careful and wouldn't you know it, I slipped onto my butt and slid down the rock into the water. Petrified of getting my camera wet, all I could do was hold my trash bag as high over my head as I could and fell into the water. I completely went under and part of my trash bag. I didn't realize how deep it was were I was getting in. I thought it was only waist deep or so. As I surface I let out some kind of howling noise and then all I could hear was Hikari rolling around on the ground laughing at me. As we were going home later on she said something along the lines of you couldn't see it funnier even if it was in a movie. And then she mentioned it being funnier than Jack Black or something like that.

So my wade turned into a swim and I made it across the river and climbed up the bank. The river was so mind-numbing cold I had to take a few minutes and try to get some feeling back in my extremities.

It was a really neat water fall but, I couldn't find any good angles that I liked. There was one that I wanted to try to get but it would require some rock climbing and didn't have my shoes. So I took a few and climbed up a bit higher and took a few more then climbed back down. I'll show you one photo of where I was shooting but it's not that great. You can't even see half of this waterfall from this angle. I climbed up about 3/4 of the way with no shoes but I turned back when it really got hairy. I want to take a photo but from the other direction at the top of all these rocks.

The other thing I didn't like about this area wasn't so much the bad angles but the lighting. It was too bright for my liking. If I do come back here to take more photos, it's going to have to be early in the morning or late evening. I'm thinking early morning so I don't get stuck in the dark on the way back.

Speaking of the way back, swimming back across the river was worst than the first crossing. I picked a different spot to cross and it ended up being deeper than the first spot. Hikari just laughed at me the whole time I was swimming back.

Jan 17, 2009

Revenge of the Newb

Posted by Amami Superman

Yesterday I set out early to take some shots of the sunrise. I had to hike up the beach a bit to get to the spot I wanted to shoot from. When I got there, I set up my tripod and attacked my camera. When I went to turn it on, it wouldn't turn on. It was then I realized that I had forgotten my battery on my desk at home. I promptly put away my camera and tripod and headed back to the car.

So yesterday I realized that I fail at preparation check lists. Forgetting my camera battery on my desk was pretty sucktacular. Driving back home yesterday morning, I felt the the sunrise mocking me every time I looked at it. It was then I thought, "I will have my REVENGE!" Well, maybe it wasn't so dramatic. But I did wake up early again this morning and made sure I had everything before I left.

I chose a different location this morning, but it was in the same area. I chose this spot for it's tide pools. They made a pretty nice mirror reflection. Here is one of the two photos I chose to show you. The first is the original before I retouched it in Photoshop.

Shutter Speed: 10 seconds
Shutter Priority
F-Stop: f/10
Aperture Value: f/10
Max Aperture Value: f/4.4
ISO 200
Focal Length: 28
Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

And here is the same photo after I retouched it in Photoshop.

I didn't do too much to this picture but I did do a little of everything. I raised the temperature of the photo as well as adjusting the tint. I also adjusted the exposure along with the saturation. Probably the most noticeable is the exposure. You can see the rocks a little better in the water. I thought it made it look better but you can decide which you like.

This next photo was taken a few minutes after sunrise. This was the first time taking a picture of a sunrise, or a sunset for that matter, with my D60. I wasn't too sure about the settings so I was trying a few different things as I was shooting.
Again, here is the original photo before I retouched it in Photoshop.

Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
F-Stop: f/11
Aperture Value: f/11
Max Aperture Value: f/5.5
ISO 100
Focal Length 48mm
Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

This photo was kind of dark but I liked the way the sun looked like a disc and I also like the dark blue sky in the top of the photo. Here is the photo after I retouched it in Photoshop.

I did about the same as the previous photo. I adjusted the temperature, tint, exposure and saturation.

Well, those are the 2 of the photos I took this morning. I hope you liked them.

Night Time Fun

Posted by Amami Superman

Well, I pulled newb photographer move yesterday. I woke up early and headed out to take some morning sunrise pictures, drove for about 45 minutes, hiked up the beach to the spot I wanted to shoot from, got everything all set up only to find I forgot my camera battery on my desk at home. DOH!!!!

Anyways! So I had all my gear in the car and after work was finished, I decided to take Jade to a seaside park and mess around taking some long exposure pictures. We brought a flashlight thinking that would be fun to run around in the dark and this is one of the pictures that turned out decent.

I was using shutter speed priority of 30 seconds, ISO 200 and the aperture on auto. I used these settings for all the photos I took last night.

After running around with the flashlight, I thought it would be cool to take some pictures making some symbols or writing.

I don't know why an anarchy symbol popped into my head but as I was waving the light around in a big circle I thought, "Oh, lets to that."

I then thought it would be cool to try and make some fake ghost pictures. It was pretty fun doing that with Jade.

So that was the fun we had last night. When we got back it was a little after 10:00PM and Jade fell asleep in the car. As I was editing these pictures to show you I decided to get my revenge and go take some sunrise pictures the next morning. I'll post those in a different post next.

Jan 10, 2009

My first post in my new blog

Posted by Amami Superman

Yesterday night I decided to wake up early to go take some photos in the early morning light. Sunrise was at 7:16AM this morning so I woke up at 5:45AM and headed out at 6:00AM. I got to the spot about 20 minutes before sunrise and the sky was getting pretty light. Though it was getting brighter out, it was still very dark under the canopy of trees where I took my photos and I had to watch my footing as I climbed. Once I got my camera on my tripod, I took a shot with my flash to get my bearings. You can see in this photo how dark it still was 20 minutes before sunrise.

After getting situated in the right spot I started to take photos. I try not to set my ISO above 400 if possible so my first couple of shots I set my ISO to 200 and my shutter speed around 10 seconds. This brought some OK results but the photos were still under exposed. I tried slower shutter speeds but it was pretty windy this morning and all my shots had some motion blur in them somewhere. This next photo was taken about 15 minutes before sunrise and the shutter speed was 13 seconds.

It was about this time that I noticed the stupid branch poking out of the water in front of me and promptly removed it from my line of sight. I took photo after photo hoping I would get lucky with the wind but it wasn't in the dice this morning. I took around 70 photos in about an hour's time. I ended up choosing this photo to share with you all. Here is the original untouched photo.

Photo settings:
8.0 sec Shutter priority
Aperture value: f/11
ISO 100
18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens

This was one of the better photos with the least amount of motion blur in the tree leaves. I like the original the way it is but I thought I would retouch it in Photoshop and adjust the saturation/hue and give it a soft glowing effect. This is what I came up with.

I'm going to have to go back to this spot a few more times and try to take some more photos under better conditions.

So there you have it! My first post in my brand new blog. I'm going away for business over the weekend so I won't have a chance to get out there and take some photos. But I'll be back next week and we'll see what we can do.