As promised I don’t want to post tulip pictures every night (even through I have enough for the rest of the year), so tonight I’m having a break and posting this image of the harbor at Carillon Point.  Today has been a rainy day and pretty grey outside, so this image reminded me of the sun we had last week and what’s to come.

Lisa, James, Abi and I drove to Carillon to see if we could get any nice pictures and we did well.  The white puffy clouds against the blue sky looked great and there were not too many boats in the harbor.  You can’t see it but Seattle is on the other side of the lake.

I’m waiting for a clear night as I want to go back and see if those street lamps light up and look any good when it gets dark.  I think a similar shot at night, maybe even with moonlight would look very cool.

However, enjoy this break as tomorrow it’s back to tulips.

Carter and Master Chief got scared by something at work today and I found them running away.

One of the fun (or dangerous) things about owning Photoshop, is that you can go a little mad!  You can definitely “over process” an image.  In fact many people (including Lisa) tell me I do that all the time, but I don’t care I like my images.  However tonight’s posting is a conscious choice to go over the top.

While driving back home from Mount Vernon I passed this really cool church.  I literally drove right past it, did a u-turn and went back for another look.  It’s all wood and I loved the steeple and the fancy windows.  So I decided to take a picture.  Unfortunately it  was positioned right by a main road and the road had power cables in the air that would have ruined the picture.  I tried lots of angles and found the one posted here the best.

When I got home to check out the picture there were a couple of issues.  Firstly there were loads of parking signs in the church car park (so I took them out with Photoshop), and secondly the sky looked REALLY boring.  It was almost white and gave the image a dull flat look.

I was playing with some filters and got this really cool purple sky and at that time Lisa was walking past.  Anyway she loved the sky and said I should post it like that (this is the person that says she doesn’t like it when my pictures are over processed and look fake).   I can honestly say the sky looked nothing like this, but, it would have been cool if it did.

Carter and Master Chief decided to read some technical books today but couldn’t agree on which one to start.

If you read this blog you will remember that I went back to Mount Vernon on Saturday to finally shoot some tulips.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m going to post LOTS of pictures of tulips.  Having said that I’ll try and intersperse non-tulip images so you don’t get too bored.

You kind of have to imagine a huge field (and I mean huge) full of different colored flowers.  Then imagine hundreds of people walking all around the flowers and periodically running into the flowers for a picture.

Then you have to ask yourself how can you photograph great pictures without loads of strangers in shot?  Well there are a few approaches (and I used them all).  One way is to shoot deep into the field with a long lens, to do this I just stand at the edge and focus way out into the middle of the field.  Another approach is just to have patience and when a small number of people are in view (you never have no people) take the shot, then remove them in post processing.  The last approach (and the mechanism used in today’s picture) is to get a large black bin bag out of your camera case and lay it on the floor.  Then you lay on the bag under the flowers and shoot up.   This is what I did.  Of course there are people walking round my feet looking at me like I’m a loony, but that’s OK, the results are worth it.

One of the benefits of this approach (other than no people) is that you get the blue sky as a background and it can set off the flowers.  In this image I also had the sun, which I tried to hide behind a flower bulb.

Cater and Master Chief decided today to play a game of soccer.  So they jumped on a Foosball table and took over.

One of the advantages of driving yourself to a location and not using a tour bus is that you can stop any time you want to take a picture.  This is exactly what happened yesterday on the way home from Mount Vernon.  I was driving towards Conway when I saw this barn.  It looked pretty old and not in great shape (which always makes a great picture) so I parked up and grabbed the gear.

The barn was quite far from the road and in front of the barn was a ton of dandelions.  The yellow flowers against the green grass were the thing that actually caught my eye.  To the left of the barn was a load of farm equipment (tractors, plows etc.,) which really looked terrible, so I figured out two options to composite the picture.

The image I’m posting tonight was the first one I tried.  Placing the barn just off center to the left let me get a load of the yellow dandelions with out the farm equipment.  The second attempt was of the farm directly in front of the camera.  The second image looked OK (in fact Lisa said it was her favorite), but it didn’t have many flowers and wasn’t, in my opinion, a good composition – this huge barn in the center of the screen was too obvious – too much “in your face” so I went with the first (my favorite).

The sky in the picture looks quite cool but didn’t look like that to the human eye.  I had a very thin layer of cloud above that looked almost white.  It was pretty boring but you never know what it will look like on the computer.  When I got home I added some contrast and dropped the color temperature of just the sky to make it look a little more dramatic.  This (I think) really helped the sky and made it a valuable part of the image rather than something that you want to distract the user from.

Cater and the dudes decided to chill out in the hottub today with a load of ducks!

Lisa was on the internet last night and visited the facebook site of the tour company that took me to Mount Vernon a couple of weeks ago.  It appeared that the tulips were now out in full bloom and they were posting pictures.  So as I now had proof that the fields were full of color I decided that today I would head back – this time on my own – and get the pictures I wanted.

Initially I thought I’d leave really early and get there as the place opened, but then I remembered that I got up every day this week at 6:30 and it was Saturday and I was totally knackered.  So I convinced myself late last night that I’d either go later in the day or Sunday instead.

So this morning I got up at 10am (how fab is that) made the kids egg and bacon and asked everyone what they were planning on doing today.  Abi had a Girl Scout trip to the movies planned, James was going Skateboarding and Lisa wasn’t doing anything.  I asked them all if they wanted to go to Mount Vernon with me and thankfully they all said “No”.  Now it’s not that I don’t want my family with me, it’s just that when I have a camera in my hand I can become a little, what does Lisa call it?  Oh yeah – BORING.  And they all start to nag me after about 10 shots!  So after breakfast I grabbed the camera and tripod and headed of to Skagit Valley.

It’s only about 70 miles away and it’s pretty much freeway the whole trip, but it still took around 90 minutes.  I went straight to Tulip Town, found a parking place and paid my $5 entrance fee to get in.  It was about now that I remembered why the “get up early and get there as they open” idea was such as good one.  The place was packed!  Literally hundreds of people were there with cameras either stamping over the flowers or walking out into the tulip fields so their partners could take a picture of them surrounded by tulips – you get the idea.

While this was definitely a pain, it didn’t stop me getting some great shots.  I’ve found that if you don’t have patience photography is not the hobby for you.  By taking my time and waiting for people to move, oh and giving the odd person a really nasty stare, I managed to get my pictures.

Today’s posting is of some red tulips which is actually the most popular color – see you learn stuff by coming here too.  The challenge I had here was that they were VERY VERY red, almost too red and dark but they looked fantastic and I wanted to capture that “lost in a sea of red” look.

I took over 380 pictures in all over around 2 hours and then headed home.  Got in with enough time to mow the lawn and post this before going out with Lisa on a date.

Hope you like the first one, there will be more tulips over the coming week (trust me by next week you will be sick of them).

At work we have these really nice coffee machines that grind and brew fresh Starbucks coffee.  But that are quite hard to use when you’re only 4 inches high.  But having found the stationary room Carter get some tape and overcame the challenge.