Solar Eclipse Photos!

For those of you who didn't hear, we had a 94% solar eclipse last Sunday and a few people were able to capture some pretty cool photos of the event.

Here are a few favorite images from our students who sent over Eclipse images!


A Great Collage from Pat Brown showing the progression of the Eclipse.


Jim Radford- Holes!


Jim Radford- The Technique

Jim Radford got creative! Setting up a piece of tinfoil attached to a box and poked several holes into it. He then photographed the shadow of the eclipse on a gray card he placed on an old tripod! Very creative and out of the "box" thinking to show the progression of the eclipse. 


Pete Scifres

It is always good to mix it up a bit and bring in that foreground element. A very strange out of this world feel. Thanks Pete! 



 Love it! The "rays" of the sun are just incredible.

 I would like to know everyone's specs and explanation on how you photographed your photos. If you can enter comments below to add to the post!

Thank you everyone for sending in your images! I wish I could post them all! Looking forward to our next photo adventure where we can learn, improve and take our photography to the next level!

Fiat Lux and happy shooting!

GoPro + Lightroom 4 + P90X = Interesting Time Lapse

Just finished recording a tutorial about the LR 4 slideshow module and its timelapse functionality (part of a 14+ hour LR tutorial series).  I am biased but the LR 4 series is without equal. Nothing like a little power yoga to relax afterwards. Thought I might try a  timelapse with Lightroom 4, P90x, and a GoPro camera.

Heading south from Anchorage tomorrow for Sitka to meet the Northern Song, Rick Sammon, and the participants on our first eagle photo trip.  Will put up a shot of the gear list I have with me tomorrow.

Fiat Lux!

P.S. Please no comments on the yoga form or lack thereof.

Back in Cali

Great to be back home after a somewhat wet, windy, and no electrical power trip out east.  The school has been busy working the California Photo Festival and I am very impressed with the work the staff has done.  Should be another killer week of fun, photography, and learning. 

Even though hurricane Irene let loose with an unreal amount of rain I was able to make some interesting images over the four days I was in New York.

The following images are from a little indoor HDR trip just down the road from Rick's place.

 3 Shot HDR with Nik's HDR Efex Pro

3 Shot HDR with Nik's HDR Efex Pro

Same 3 Shot HDR with HDR Soft's Photomatix Pro

Same 3 Shot HDR with HDR Soft's Photomatix Pro

I often use multiple methods to process my HDR and then pick the best option.  Of course, there are times I pick and choose different parts to use from different finished images.  Whether using Layer Blend Modes or Layers/Masks, there is no limit to what you can do.

The B&W Effects conversion, for giggles.

The B&W Effects conversion, for giggles.

All shots are from a Canon 7D and an EF 14mm f/2.8L.  I processed initially in Lightroom and then sent to the respective plug-ins.

Fiat Lux!

Tim Grey Vs. Survival Suit - Photo Adventure Alaska

A little video we shot of Tim Grey donning a cold water survival suit.  The standard is to get into the suit and be ready to get into the water in under a minute.  Take a look and see how Tim does.

Just came home from two back to back cruises in Alaska.  It just keeps getting better every time I go up there.  Hope to have you join me on one of the cruises soon.

Tim will be back with us here for Lightroom (Tim's Lightroom) in August and in October for the California Photo Festival You can find more info about Tim at

Fiat Lux!

Ice Cave

Alaska Ice Cave from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo

Video shot as I was getting ready to make some HDR source images.  Always be extremely careful when dealing with ice caves.  Many are not safe at all so perform a good survey of the scene and judge integrity, traction, and overall security.  It is also a great idea to not do this alone.  With at least one other person assistance/rescue gets much easier.

The textures, color, and tonal range inside the cave were amazing.  Shooting here was a challenge.  The biggest issue was the melt water.  Keeping the camera and lens relatively dry required full protection.  I do not use any fancy type of rain gear.  I prefer fish fillet bags and rubber bands or gaffer's tape.  They make a simple, effective, and economical solution.  Light levels overall were low so I used a tripod.  Tripod setup was a little challenging with very slippery, uneven terrain (ice) as the cave floor.  The ability to rapidly adjust my tripod leg length and angle was very helpful. 

I shot a single image to assess the tones and decided I needed to shoot multiples to cover the entire range.  For the HDRs on this blog, I shot only three source files at -2, 0, and +2 E.V with a Canon 5D Mk II.  This gave me about 9ish stops of usable data which worked perfectly.  Had I needed more shots I had my Promote Control with me. 

 HDR processed with HDR Efex Pro from Nik

HDR processed with HDR Efex Pro from Nik

I used Nik's HDR Efex Pro for this scene.  As many of you know I am not all that faithful to one HDR software.  I primarily find myself using Photomatix Pro but I will almost always try other options and pick the best result.  Sometimes my final result is a blend of output from different programs.  For this shot I wanted the result to show texture more than anything else.  Click on the attached images for a larger version since only when big will the real texture come out. 

 On this version I pulled some saturation and pushed texture a bit more.

On this version I pulled some saturation and pushed texture a bit more.

Now I need to go back in July with my Fisheye.  Of course, this cave will be gone but I should be able to find another.  Come out and join me.

Fiat Lux!

Out and about on the Moraine

Glacial Moraine from Hal Schmitt onVimeo.

A quick video shot from the highpoint of a glacial moraine in AK.  This is the far end of the moraine I discussed in yesterday's post.

We had intermittent showers throughout our trip ashore as you can see on the lens and hear.  Regardless of the weather, the landscape and scenery were pretty cool.  I found the most interesting part of this area to be that the landscape was completely fractal.  Regardless of scale, there were similar features.  For example, the glacier and its moraine were very similar in appearance to the small water flows and deposits of glacial silt. 

I will put up a few more videos from this location and other spots around the area. 

Video was shot with a Canon 5D Mk II and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L.  I processed very minimally in Adobe Premiere Pro.

I make a plug in the video for the best photography pants I have found.  They are made by a company called Crye Precision.  Crye makes combat and field gear without equal.  The best thing about the pants is they have ten pockets distributed along your entire leg.  One of the things I most miss about wearing a Navy flight suit everyday is the lack of useful pockets in normal clothing.  The lower leg pockets on the Crye field pants are perfect.  Crye is not bashful about charging a good amount for their gear but you get what you pay for.

Check them out at Crye Precision.

Fiat Lux!

Tons of Falling Ice...A Cool Calving

A quick story to accompany the sequence above.  We were shooting the glacier face and watching fairly small calving events.  As it neared time to go, the Captain decided we could pull a "Jericho" and blew the yacht's horns to expedite a large icefall.  As we were about 1/2 mile from the glacier, it took the sound about 3 seconds to hit the face.  By the time the echo returned to us the first small pieces of ice were already falling.

I am not exactly sure how much ice calved in this sequence but it was a lot.  For reference, the face is about 500-600 feet high.  The ice created a 100+ foot splash and a 25 foot wave that fortunately dissipated to about 15 feet when it reached the yacht.  I have to imagine it was easily hundreds of tons of ice crashing.

 A still to show the size of the central spire that came down.

A still to show the size of the central spire that came down.

I am still  not completely convinced the sound energy brought down the ice but it is not outside the realm of possibility and it was one hell of a coincidence. 

For the image sequence, I shot handheld with a Canon 5D Mk II and EF 70-200mm at just under four frames a second.  I processed the images in Lightroom and then stacked them in Photoshop to align (making up for slight differences in my positioning.)  I ultimately created a series of 19 JPEGS and took them to Adobe Fireworks  to create the Shockwave Flash file.  Playback is at four frames per second so the sequence is pretty close to how the 5D Mk II captured it.

Fiat Lux!

Off We Go

Loading everyone onto the yacht this morning.  Not sure I have ever seen so much camera gear for such a small group.  Makes sense though, although the focus of the trip is eagles there is so much subject matter from macro to panoramic, HDR landscapes and more.  Never hurts to be prepared for anything that might wander in front of our lens.

Fiat Lux!

Epic Light Gallery Opening Ceremony

Tonight was an "Epic" night of photography, wine, good friends, and great fun.


The Official SLO Chamber Ribbon Cutting!

Thank you Amanda (second to left) for hanging the ENTIRE gallery!

Light Photographic Workshops celebrated our opening of Epic Light Gallery tonight with a great turn out of local photographers, students and photography/art afficionados -as well as our students participating in Jennifer Wu's workshop this week!


Hal Schmitt giving his intro to the gallery and school


Bob Canepa showing his work to Jennifer Wu


Mike Baird and his lovely Wife

Thank you To SLO Chamber for joining us and presenting us with their ribbon cutting ceremony to help us become an official part of the SLO Chamber. You will be able to see the ribbon cutting photo posted on their website within the week.


Bob Canepa


Mike Baird and Dan O'Donnell

We launched our gallery with two incredible local guest photographers in the area, Mike Baird and Bob Canepa. Bob brought framed prints and Mike went the "technology" route with a slide show on his brand new HD TV screen with Cd's of the images for sale and 2 gallery wrapped canvases printed by Light.


We had live music performed by local singer/songwriter Reese Galido .  Reese will be joining us again next month for our showing with her stand-up bass player who compliments her style of music beautifully.


We, of course, had to have wine and cheese! Volatus 2005 was debuted at this wonderful event as well! Volatus 2005 will be labeled early April and will be available for $30 a bottle through Light and a few select carriers in the area.


Fiat Lux!