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It’s that time of the year again… Best of 2013




Whew, that year flew by, didn’t it? It seems like yesterday that I have written a blog post, but it’s exactly one year today since my last post. I hope I can keep up that pace over the course of the next 12 months – kidding. I will hopefully post at least a quarterly update with some new images, but until then, follow me on Facebook to never miss the release of new images, some background info and updates on where I am traveling. To keep a long story short, I hope you enjoy the following ten images- They are my personal favorites of 2013 — made in the Pyrenees, Dolomites and Ore Mountains.


As It Begins

As It Begins
Aigüestortes NP, Pyrenees, Spain

Backcountry Bliss

Aigüestortes NP, Pyrenees, Spain

Mountain Summer

mountain summer
Passo Falzarego, Dolomites, Italy

Emerald Waters

Lago di Landro, Dolomites, Italy

Highcountry Pools

Aigüestortes NP, Pyrenees, Spain

The Portal

Aigüestortes NP, Pyrenees, Spain

Blooming Spires

Aigüestortes NP, Pyrenees, Spain

Autumnal Flow

Ore Mountains, Germany

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Lago di Landro, Dolomites, Italy

Peaches and Cream

Lago di Landro, Dolomites, Italy

Thank you for all the patience in the first half of the year when this blog got neglected, for the continued support and the wonderful emails I receive. Here’s to a wonderful Holiday Season to you all out there!


Everything on the Internet is Free




I had planned to share some more images today but this idea was quickly turned down by a thoughtful post on Tony Wu’s blog that I felt needed my commentary here too.

Tony Wu is a professional underwater photographer whose work I regularly check out because it takes your breath away. Got it? Underwater photography – breath…. never mind. Anyway, I highly recommend checking out his portfolio. It oozes greatness.

While we’re at it and this is the whole reason of this blog post…

Can I have one of your images for free, Tony? It would make a great background for my non-commercial site! Thanks in advance.

The problem is right there. Everybody believes anything on the internet is free to use for any matter you can think of and to some degree, I think this is true for about anyone on the internet, me included. Hey, I am not Mother Theresa either but truth be told, a quick Google image search revealed my images on blogs in Japan, Brazil, Zimbabwe and a couple dozen other countries; most recently on a photography website in Portugal. Yes, they gave me credit – at least.

However, I can’t even count the numerous times I have gotten requests to use my images for free for whatever reason, which I sometimes felt bad to decline, but mostly was just annoyed or even amused to some degree about the impolite way of asking for it. As a person trying to make a living with photography, you just cannot live off of water, love and image credit. You need money in the bank to support your family and travel to all those fancy places you like to decorate your homepage with, you save the environment with and help a fellow of yours out for a great cause. That’s fine and all, but while you help others, you’re not helping me. Every image spread across whatever medium that I did not get paid for, is one place less traveled and photographed. Think about it. Do this a couple of times more and you might have nothing left to take for free.

Tony’s thoughtful blog post covers just this experience and the way to handle requests. There is just no perfect way to respond but Tony’s way of dealing with it proves to be a real time keeper, raises valid points for the “right-grabbers” to consider and to eventually change their habits. (Which, in all honesty, I doubt.) Read the whole response here and share with whomever you think might enjoy it. It’s free!

So let it be that, another rambling. Remember, not everything on the web is free! 😉

Dodge and Burn – A Darkroom Technique Digitalized




This is going to be my first written tutorial ever, so please bear with me. I will try to keep this short, fun (How fun can it be to sit in front of a screen instead of being out shooting?) and informative, even though that aspect might not lie in my hands as I don’t know your skill level, after all.

Dodging and burning an image, in other terms, lightening and darkening pixels has been around since the dark age of film photography – just without the pixels though. One person who brought dodge/burn to the next level and perfected the craft was certainly Ansel Adams. Without wanting to get too much into the history of photography, this technique has been around for long and will continue to be so and for good reason.

But all that aside, let’s get down to business. As you might have heard, Adobe Photoshop has specific tools for those actions (Shortcuts – Mac/PC: “O” [“Shift” + “O”]), but while using those tools on a layer of pixels gets the job done, it is not advisable to do so. Working directly on your image and not an adjustment layer of any kind will in the long term degrade the quality of your work. Think of the following situation, you worked for hours on a scene, improving, tweaking and refining. You save your work, get it printed and then realize you dodged certain areas too much or too little, all the tweaking you did introduced noise, artifacts or halos where dark edges stand against a bright ground, which was not noticeable on the screen but now becomes problematic in print; but you cannot simply go back and alter the adjustments as you worked directly on your image layer. All the effort you put in, all of a sudden, becomes useless and you need to start off another Photoshop session.

A non-destructive workflow is the magic word here and I am sure you have heard about it but were never too sure what it involved. While this is not my topic for this tutorial, please check out Sean Bagshaw’s thoughtful post on the PhotoCascadia blog, where he shares deep and helpful insights in his processing workflow:

So how can I make use of this technique for dodging and burning? Please read on. The basic idea is to “outsource” the technique from the pixel layer to an adjustment layer that can be altered whenever you open your PSD or TIFF file.

First thing we need to do is to create a new layer and fill it with 50% gray.
To do this, hold “Shift” + “Command” + “Option” + “N” on a Mac and “Shift” + “Ctrl” + “Alt” + “N” on a PC; which will create a new layer on top of the current layer you are working on.
Then, go to Edit > Fill (or use the shortcuts: “Shift + “Delete” on a Mac / “Shift + Backspace” on a PC) which will open the Fill dialog box. Set the “Use”-option to 50% gray, blending mode normal and opacity to 100%, as shown below.

Fill options

We’re almost done. Last thing we need to do, is to set the blend mode of the dodge and burn layer to soft light and we’re good to go.

To save you some time, I have created a Photoshop action for you to download. Just read on, the download link will be found at the end of this tutorial.

But how does it work? Who is familiar with the blend modes in Photoshop knows that the soft light blending mode will proportionally highlight or darken the layer underneath by the amount it is lighter or darker than 50% gray. That said, painting white on the dodge and burn layer will highlight the portion (dodge) while painting over it, while black will darken (burn) the part of the image. All this can be revoked by painting over the layer with 50% gray set as you brush color. Fairly easy, huh?

Results? You asked for them. Here is a recently reprocessed image from Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP, Utah. I used a dodge and burn layers to highlight some of the foreground rocks that were touched by the presence of the rising sun but still felt a little too dark and to darken the sunbeam for a more aesthetic appeal, as well as light dodging and burning to even out the exposure.

Final image: (Mouseover for the pre-dodge and burn image!)
Solar Explosion - Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP

Dodge and burn layer:
dodge burn layer

Download PDF of this tutorial Download Photoshop action

My favorites of 2010 – Happy New Year everyone!




Whoa, it seems like yesterday that I wished a Happy New Year… wait. It was yesterday. Ugh, never mind. So many things happened in 2010, the year flew by like monarch butterflies over the state of California and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in the field, photographing in the jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring locations in the western US, namely Yosemite National Park, Arches and Canyonlands NP in Utah, the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon and a few lesser known places on the way, but see for yourself.

Without further blah blah, here are my favorite 5 images of the last year.

1. “Granite Reflections” – Yosemite National Park, California

The Death Hike, Cathedral Peak, Yosemite -- Granite Reflections

Cathedral Peak majestically towers over Upper Cathedral Lake high in the Sierra and a lesser visited area in the Yosemite National Park, California. Read the story behind the ascent here or by clicking the image above.

2. “Defiance Falls” – Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Defiance Falls

The official name of this little known jewel in the Columbia River Gorge is Lancaster Falls, named after Samuel C. Lancaster, an engineer responsible for the construction of much of the original Columbia River Gorge Highway. (Which is an awesome drive by the way!)

3. “Captain’s Point” – Cape Kiwanda, Oregon

Captain's Point

A beautiful soft and warm evening light kisses the sandstone formations of Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon coast near Pacific City while the raging surf shapes the ever-changing cliffs.

4. “Rising Dawn” – Convict Lake, California

Early Morning Crime Scene

Stormy rain clouds are pushing over the ridge of Mt. Laurel at Convict Lake, California; lit by the rising sun over the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

5. “Firestorm” – Natural Bridges State Park, California


A rare colorful sunset during the late summer season in California. Usually the beaches in Northern California are covered in a thick marine layer which blankets the coast like an impenetrable coat, suffocating all chances of possible color. With a little luck and a lot of patience, the spectacular sunset eventually happened, accompanied by lit up rain showers.

Last but not least, I want to thank you all for the support throughout the year. I resolve to post more in 2011, spend even more time in the field, explore new places, offer a better experience when browsing and shopping for images on my website (reads: a major upgrade is in the works) and buy more of the Cialis and Rolex watches I am offered every day. Thanks Spammers. I love you too.

Laced In Frost (Firework Edition)

That said, enjoy “Laced in Frost”. My last image of the past year taken on December 30th; complete with hoarfrost covered branches, steam rising from the river and a little pink magic; brings 2010 to a worthy end. Here’s to a great Twenty-Eleven y’all!


Mosquito Madness




Me and my promises… Sorry it has taken me so long again to update the blog. On the only two day break between the exams, I’ll escape the homogeneity of controlling, financial analysis and marketing to add some new images on here.

Since I was bitten by the photography bug, I’ve been attracted to wildflower images. Living in the mountains, one would think there are plenty of them to find. Well, between the fireweed which basically grows everywhere and sparse buttercups there aren’t many and I’ve always been drawn to images of the Rowena Crest near Portland, Oregon, where every spring fields of balsamroots and lupines burst into bloom.

“Glowing Lupines”
Glowing Lupines

So it was about time to find me some lupines. My own batch of glorious, flowering lupines.

Being tied up with mostly university related work, finding the right moment with all elements cooperating wasn’t easy but after missing out on some great sunsets earlier in the week which I admired from the safety of my desk, I was ready to fight endless hordes of mosquitoes and other biting critters which were all over me like nazguls over the fellowship of the ring.

Despite the ongoing battle I was able to pull off a few frames which I really liked. Fortunately, the lupines were at their peak of blooming before being squashed by heavy rains and hail later in the week. To put the shooting over the top, the sky cooperated also and provided a stunning warm atmosphere.

“Meadow of Dreams”
Glowing Lupines

For print and licensing requests, please contact me through my website form.
Thanks and catch y’all on the flip side.