Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is how I roll.

Here's the thing. I love black and white photography. It reminds me of the days I was tucked away in a darkroom and was trying to master the dodging and burning technique. One part of me is missing those analog days a lot these days. Another part of me just loves recreating those times in Photoshop. When I look at it without getting all melancholic about it, I know with Photoshop I have a lot more control about the look of my shots then I ever had in the darkroom.

For me monotone shots go a lot further then a straight conversion in Photoshop and adding some curves. I love to make something out of nothing. Using those same dodging and burning techniques. Sure it takes practice to do this and it is hard to explain why I do certain things but I believe that if you've never had the chance to work in a darkroom, you have no clue what it takes to get a great print. Shoot some film, develop it yourself, enjoy the fun of darkroom printing.

So enter this photo that I took on Wednesday.
When you look a the original RAW file (above) you see that it's just an avarage shot. Nice foreground detail, ok-ish sky with a nice pink cloud in the sky. But I instantly knew I wanted to convert this to black and white. Don't ask me why. It's a gut feeling. I think it was partly because I had a lot of details and textures to play with. I liked the light on the distant hills. Although I knew I would have to tweak this shot a fair bit to get to the end result I wanted.

After the black and white conversion in Photoshop Raw – this time I used a lot of brushes and local tweaks for this shot, directly in the raw convertor – I started the selective dodge and burn process.

I usually work in Aperture, but for black and whites I often switch back to Photoshop. Because I feel I have more control over the shot that way and it is a lot easier to manipulate sections of it quickly. In the end I had about 22 layers rocking this shot. Everyone of which was tweaking little sections at a time.

Stubbled Pasture

So this was the final result. What do you think? Am I a cheater? Am I over processing or over thinking this black and white thing? Tell me,make a comment I want to know!
I know my printing style is kind of hard. But I like deep blacks and pure whites... and most of all, drama! Yep I'm a drama queen ... eh king, I mean king!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Update on the pinhole cams

Last week I was able to check up on some pinhole cameras I hung around Cochrane last December and January. They've been out in the elements for the last 4 months. Photographing old man Winter. And they are doing great!

The 7 cams that I checked (of 11 I believe) are all still up and running! That fact alone makes me super happy! I suppose people actually did not find them or if they did, kept their hands to themselves or Winter was just too damn cold (and long) for them to actually go outside. I think it was the latter one.
The metal wire I used to hold them up has rusted securely in place. I can only hope that, in the 2 months to come, the camera's will keep doing their thing and I'll end up with some results that I can share. Fingers crossed on that one.

I'm looking forward in taking them all down on the 21st of June though. I have no clue what the pictures are going to look like. But that is the beauty of it! I don't want to know. Surprise! That was the reason for this project.

I'm already planning another run and I am scouting some possible locations on where to hang them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Perfect evening

Magic Hills

Magic Hills 2

These shots were taken on Monday.

You know, it was a perfect evening. Warm golden light was spilling over the foothills West of Cochrane. Only minutes from the town border. Only minutes from where I live!
As soon as the sun went under the horizon and I saw the clouds catching that pink glow I knew I had a winner (or multiple winners). I made a few different compositions of these scenes. These ones worked best I thought. I really like all those yellow and brown colours in this shot and how they complement the sky tones. It's been a long time since I was able to shoot a decent sunset.

I love shooting close to home. Mainly because I know exactly where to go under certain conditions. But I have to confess, it took me a fair while to understand and learn how I could appreciate these hills.
In the coming months I'll do a lot more of these prairie shots. If you can shoot the prairies and the foothills, you can tackle everything I think!

These were simple 'in camera' shots. I recently purchased a Lee polarizer (ouch, that left a hole in my wallet) and a Lee 2 stop Soft ND grad. Both were used in this shot. This saved me some time on the Mac. Ask my wife how pumped I was when I got home, that I nailed these in camera!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Textures Gallore

Over the weekend I helped a befriended couple dismantle an old barn. They are planning to build a new heated horse ridding arena (or something).
I was kind of sacrificed by my wife to help them out. Thanks honey!

At first the job was 'only' to move 500+ hay bales from one end of the barn to the other. Well ok. Normally I don't do manual labour (that's why I chose to do a desk job) so I was preparing myself mentally the week before.

So Saturday came and we helped out. 'Moving those hay bales' quickly changed into lots of other chores. Loosening a gazillion screws that held down the tin on the inside and outside of the barn. Moving washing machines, stoves, rubber mats, 'iron heavy stuff' and so on. In the process I kinda crushed my trigger finger. Maybe I should insure that part of my body...

Anyhow. On Saturday I noticed one thing. That old barn was full of the most awesome textures. Chipped paint, flaking paint, old shingels with a huge amount of moss, bare wood, and go on and on. Nothing can replicate the authenticity of these things. These textures were real, raw and bad ass. Well maybe not bad ass but you get my drift. No Photoshop filter can reproduce the amount of 'grunge' I was able to capture. It was an amazing place to say the least. So on Sunday I had to do at least 5 minutes of photography. I simply had to capture all those details! Those 5 minutes quickly became half an hour. Half an hour turned into 45 minutes. The owners thought it was funny.

I posted them on my site in a new album called... euhm... textures (duh).

Textures - Images by Olivier Du Tre

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Free print for 500rd follower on Twitter

Today it's been 5 months since I've started my Twitter journey.
You know in the beginning I was very skeptical that this would do much for my photography. It turned out that it is making a huge difference.

Not only am I tweeting with my heros in landscape photography but they are giving me sincere feedback and tips on how to become better at it. And by the way it is so much fun to do!
Who would have guessed that after just 5 months tweeting I would have 434 people (most of them are fellow artists and photographers) following my stuff online (as of today, April 22nd at 5pm). That blows my mind!

Here is the thing, I am going to do a little competition!
Whoever is my 500rd follower PERSON who follows me on Twitter, will get a free 11x17 11x14 print (being in the printing industry screwed up my scenes of paper sizes) of choice! If the 500rd person is in fact an organization, website, or other than a person, the print will go to the next follower. Just me saying 'thank you' to you all for the support you've been giving me on this social platform.

If you are already on Twitter maybe you can help me out. I would appreciate if you would retweet this simple message. Thank you all so much!
Be the 500rd person who follows @odutrephoto and get a free 11x14 print of choice! Check Please RT! #free

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And then there were 2

Remember this shot from a few weeks ago?


A sad thing happened over the weekend.
One tree mysteriously disappeared! It was there last Friday, but yesterday (Monday) it was gone. Vanished! I could not believe my eyes! "Where did it go to?" I asked myself. I looked around but I couldn't find it. It's not even lying around on the ground any more. So my conclusion is that it didn't fall over – which I thought was what happened at first – but instead it was chopped for firewood, I presume. This just shows you that you always need to be on the lookout for photo opportunities. Because before you know it, they are gone.

And then there were 2.

If you look at the scene now I believe it lost a lot of its character and flair. I guess it is not going to take long before the rancher decides to take the two remaining trees to their last resting place as well. That would mean one less photo opportunity for me on my way to work.

Ps. Do you see now why I was so happy with that fog? I just don't think this background does this subject any good.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gitzo failure

Yesterday – while shooting a nice Chinook arched sunset – my Gitzo tripod decided to call it quits. After using it for about 8 months this thing is done.
I did nothing special, I'm not trowing this thing around nor did I put too much weight or strain on it or anything silly like that. But yesterday, one of the 'ledges' – where the tripod legs snap into – broke right off.

When I bought it last July, I thought I was crazy spending that much cash on a stupid tripod. And now I feel very disappointed by the quality of Gitzo. Wasn't Gitzo a company with a big reputation amongst the pro community?

I was researching my tripods default yesterday when I came across a post on some message board where somebody was explaining and showing the SAME EXACT problem (I'm using the treads photo to show you what went wrong)! This must be a manufacturing default. I'll run by my new friends at The Camera Store this afternoon and see what they say.

I'm pretty devastated. I guess I won't be shooting much this month. Unless The Camera Store would be gracious enough to give me a loaner while this thing gets repaired under warranty. *hint*

Alright. So I dropped the tripod of at The Camera Store and hopefully it will not take too long to get this fixed. Thanks again Jim for taking care of this! And hopefully by the end of the week I'll have a loaner I could use. Otherwise shooting landscapes without a tripod will be a challenge for the next weeks.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring is in the air

So... finally 'spring' has begun. Well kinda. Predictions for tomorrow call for another snow dump here in Calgary.

It's weird to see the prairies and pastures around our house without snow again. Everything is brown and mushy though. There are huge water runoffs. It is all not very appealing. But non the less I went out yesterday at sunset.

I have to be honest, it felt awkward. Going from all those minimalistic winter shots to a normal landscape composition again. I felt like a beginner. And to some extent I still am. It's strange how your abilities as a photographer sometimes shift. I had a hard time reacquainting myself with the sights around our house. I'll be planning on shooting close to home for most of the summer. Just as a little personal project.

I'm sure it will take me a couple of outings to come back into the groove. But at least I got to try out my new toys last night. The HUGE Lee polarizer and some ND grads. It was more of a test drive then anything else. I did not come back home with a composition I was happy with. But that's ok.

Snow made my life simple.