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Some worthwhile photo links

I'll try to do these type of posts more often -- photos and photo advice worth a click of your time...

Amazing bald eagle photo (National Geographic)

Sweet public art display (Instagram)

75 years since the Hindenberg disaster (The Atlantic) -- photos may not be technically perfect by today's standards, but the composition and content is amazing. Check out color pic of the dining room -- the scene in the zeppelin in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was actually faithful to the real thing!

Blowing leaves in color in the city (Flickr)

Photo essay on harness racing & grandpa (NYT lens blog)

President Obama & veep (White House)

Dog in snow

Molly at Shady Rest in Mammoth during a big storm.

It's a gray day here in So Cal and snowing in the Sierra, so I thought I'd post this old pic -- taken a decade ago or so at Shady Rest in Mammoth Lakes. That's Molly, our chocolate lab who went to doggy heaven in 2008 after literally dozens of trips to Mammoth. Click above to see larger. 

I've shot a few zillion photos of my dogs over the years. The best ones always include outdoor surroundings and good light on their eyes. 

Please check out more of my work on my SmugMug site, where prints are available for sale (at very reasonable prices!) and license. And follow me on Twitter


This photo is © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon.  

Brand new cars

Screwing around with Instagram at the Lexus dealership yesterday -- the domi-partner was sniffing around for a new ride. The Instagram filters are really excellent.


Hall Beckley Trail & L.A. skyline

The view of downtown Los Angeles and a foggy L.A. Basin from the Hall-Beckley Trail above La Canada-Flintridge. In the distance are the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island.
Click above to check this one out on my SmugMug site. It was taken from the Hall Beckley Trail above La Canada-Flintridge this morning when fog was starting to clear from the L.A. Basin. 

In the distance is downtown Los Angeles and beyond the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Beyond that is Catalina Island. Directly below the hills is the community of Montrose. Left of center is the 2 freeway. 

At right are the Verdugo Mountains with a couple of tall buildings in downtown Glendale peeking above them. To the right of downtown L.A. is Hollywood. 

 In total, I think this was a view of about 50 miles from where I was standing in the San Gabriel Mountains to Catalina Island -- a very clear day in Southern California. It was also possible to see all the way to Orange County and across the San Fernando Valley to Ahmanson Ranch. The photo, btw, was taken with my 10-24 Nikon wide-angle lens at 24mm. Pretty sharp, eh?

This is obviously a good spot to know about when light is even better or perhaps a storm is clearing out from the area. 


Photography gift ideas for this holiday season

Let's face it: buying a photography-related gift these days is a complete pain in the ass unless you really enjoy reading technical manuals and countless reviews by camera geeks.

In that vein, here are some gift ideas for the shutterbug in your life, particularly if that shutterbug is, like me, a photo hobbyist who is just trying to improve his game.

Wireless remote control shutter release. These small devices allow you to take a photo without actually touching the camera. It's great for landscape photography or night photography -- when it's important that the camera, on a tripod, stays still. The Nikon ML-L3 is compatible with many Nikon point-and-shoots and DSLRS. Price: about $20, widely available. The Canon RC-6 remote is compatible with many of Canon's cameras and the price is about the same.

GripTight GorillaPod. This is a nice little tripod that works with all iPhones and some Android phones. It's very useful for taking photos of yourself or other situations when you want the camera to be as still as possible. The cool thing about the GorillaPod is that you can wrap the legs around branches, fences, etc. - - or just use it as a regular tripod. They run about $30.

•A Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density Filter. This one is for serious hobbyists, particularly those into landscapes. The filter is held in front of the camera lens and is helpful in scenes in which part of the frame is very bright and the other part is very dark (example: bright sky over a lake in the shadows). The "three f-stop hard step" version at 4 x 6 inches is the one I have and I'm perfectly happy with it. It's $160 on the Singh-Ray website. Mine also arrived with a helpful DVD explaining how to best use this sucker.

iPhone4S. Who needs a point-and-shoot camera when you can get just shoot photos and process them a ton of fun apps on an iPhone? The cameras on the 4S and iPhone5 are very good and also very similar. I'd try to buy a used 4S from a friend upgrading to the 5 and just use it as a camera and wi-fi device. The 4S starts at $99 through Apple.

iPad camera connector. This little doohickey allows you to download photos from your camera straigth to your iPad, where you can more easily view them and/or process them using a ton of different photo apps available through the iTunes store. The new iPad4 uses this version while earlier iPads use this one. Both are $29 in the Apple Store.

Snapseed. My favorite app for improving photos on my iPhone or iPad. It's simple to use and has a lot of different filters. You can also use Snapseed on your iPad to process photos taken with a point-and-shoot or DSLR. $4.99 in the iTunes store.

•Adobe Lightroom 4.1. One great way to improve photos is to shoot in RAW format. Adobe Lightroom is a nice piece of software for Apple or PC computers that makes it easy to process RAW photos, as well as organize them and send on their happy way to popular sites on the Internet. $149.

Photo Classes. A great way to learn the basics of composition and camera technical skills. In the L.A. area, where I live, Samy's Camera always has classes that are affordable (beginning at $50), such as the upcoming one on night photography. And here's a four-hour "In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams" class offered year-round at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park. If money isn't an issue, the Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop in the Eastern Sierra has multi-day classes led by accomplished photographers that it offers in some of the West's more scenic locales.

•Nikon D5100. I think this is the perfect DSLR for hobbyists -- it's the camera that I own. See my earlier post.

•Nikon 10-24 wide-angle DX lens. This one falls in the "well it's cheaper than a car" category. The lens is best for Nikon DX cameras (like the D5100) and is particularly well-suited to landscapes. The sharpness of images is pants-dropping good! I bought one last summer and got over the guilt of spending $900 as soon as I saw the pics it could crank out. $799 at Amazon, B&H and Adorama.

•A SmugMug membership. SmugMug is a photo-hosting website favored by many pros. SmugMug can be customized and, more important, you can sell your photos from the site with the portfolio option. Here's the rundown on prices. I also have a lot of fun for Flickr -- it's better suited for sharing photos and interacting with other photographers but not selling them for profit. A one-year pro account is $25 and provides unlimited uploads.

•"The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure" by Sean Arbabi. A very handy how-to guide that covers all the basics of the art of photography from composition to lighting. I use this book all the time as a reference guide. $19 at Amazon for either paperback or Kindle e-book.

•A Steve Hymon original print! At the age of 46, the odds of me becoming a famous photographer are tiny! But I'm not going to let stupid little details like that get in the way of some good old-fashioned self promotion! Prints are available in a variety of sizes and at very affordable prices.

To save you the work of clicking through all my photos -- but go for it, if you must -- I've posted a few that may be of general interest to California-lovers:

The Los Angeles skyline as seen from the San Gabriel Mountains.


I call this one "Horse on Mt. Hollywood."
The Mesquite Sand Dunes at sunset on the last day of January, 2011. If you're going to shoot in the dunes at sunset, get there early to find and stake out a spot. A lot of people visit the dunes late in the day and it can be difficult to frame a good shot without people or or their footsteps in the frame. This particular dune is about a half-mile from the parking lot.

The Mesquite Sand Dunes of Death Valley National Park.

To purchase a print, click on the photo and then click on 'buy' at the top right photo of any photo. Prices begin at $1.27 for 4x6 prints. Shocker: you'll get higher quality at higher prices! :)

If you have any questions about my work, please feel free to email me at



Mt. Baldy's giant sequoias

A giant sequoia tree planted near Mt. Baldy Village in Southern California.  
Although it doesn't get much publicity, there's a very nice little grove of giant sequoia trees just above Mt. Baldy Village. I took this one over the summer with my 10-24 wide-angle lens. Click above to see larger.

To see the trees: Mt. Baldy is above the very nice town of Claremont in eastern Los Angeles County. Find parking in Mt. Baldy Village near the Angeles National Forest Visitor Center and then walk up Bear Canyon Road--the trees are just a little ways up the trail. The road eventually ends and becomes a trail that ascends six miles and 6,500 feet to the summit of Mt. Baldy. 

The sequoias are big. I'm guessing they were planted in the late 1800s by someone who was hoping to create a timber industry or just thought the trees were pretty cool. 

See more of my work on my SmugMug site (prints and downloads are for sale!) and follow me on Twitter. 


This photo is © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon. 

Fighter jets!

A couple more from yesterday's impromptu fighter jet circling of my crib. The planes were waiting to perform their flyover at the Rose Bowl before the USC-UCLA game. 

The top shot was taken with the planes directly overhead. The bottom was the best of my efforts to work one of the palm trees into my street into a photo. It was very cloudy; probably would have been a neater shot with some blue sky in there. 

Prints and digital downloads of all my work featured on this blog can be purchased (at extremely reasonable prices) on my SmugMug site. And please follow me on Twitter

These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon.

Rose Bowl flyover

Fighter jets circling my 'hood in Pasadena this morning before their flyover of the UCLA-USC at the Rose Bowl. Click above to see larger.

And please visit my SmugMug site, repository of my other (ahem, brilliant) photographic efforts. And follow me on Twitter.


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon.

Photographing hockey

The Los Angeles Kings victory parade in downtown L.A. three days after winning the Stanley Cup by defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games. From left: L.A. Kings players Trevor Lewis, Brad Richardson, Jarrett Stoll and Justin Williams. Dwight King is behind Williams.

I miss pro hockey and taking interesting iPhone pics from the nosebleeds at Staples Center, where the Kings once played.

In the middle photo, Kings winger Justin Williams is celebrating winning the Stanley Cup in the victory parade in downtown L.A. Click to see 'em larger.

Too bad that supreme wanker -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman -- decided to crap all over this season because he can't get the league's finances in order.

But hockey soldiers on in many quarters, including the beer leagues. I took the bottom photo of my beer league team playing over the summer.

Hockey is, by the way, a very difficult sport to shoot. I tried using my regular 55-200 mm lens on my Nikon D5100 with very mixed results -- it was hard to shoot fast enough (1/1000th or higher) to freeze the action and still expose the image properly. The bottom photo was taken with an ISO of 3200 and shutter speed of 1/640 -- the reason there's some noise and the photo isn't super crisp.

There's an easy fix for that: go buy a really fast f/2.8 telephoto lens like the kind the pros use! I haven't but at least managed to get a few decent shots. Also, here are some good tips from pro shooter Don Smith and on this Flickr discusion board.

Check out more of my photography on my SmugMug site and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can buy prints and/or merchandise of all my photos (hey I gotta pay for that next lens/camera/computer). And follow me on Twitter


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon  


While on the subject of iPhoneography, here's a trio of other images from my crappy iPhone 3GS. I'd like to get the iPhone 5 just for the 8 megapixel camera (the 3GS is a three MP jobber), but the motherf#%@ers at Apple want to charge me $400 because my contract isn't up.

Two words for Apple: suck it!

That said, iPhones are great because they're basically better than most point-n-shoot cameras on the market due to all the different apps available for taking photos and processing them. I tell people all the time to get an iPhone as their everyday walking around camera and then invest in a DSLR for more serious stuff or when you want a really nice image.

The iphoneography blog has great tips on apps, processing and iPhone photography in general. As for apps, I mostly use Snapseed, Hipstamatic, Camera Awesome and Instagram these days. The great thing about the iPhoneography is that there are no rules -- you can play it straight and try to capture a traditional photo or you can be playful and artful and shoot for the stars. 

A quartet of photos I've captured with my phone that I like are below (click to see larger) and here's a link to more of my iphoneography on my SmugMug site


The Venice canals in Los Angeles, taken on an August evening in 2011. I believe I processed this one with Camera+. 

The Thunderbird Motel sign in Bishop, California, taken with Hipstamatic.

Old church, Santa Fe

An old church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I believe I processed this one with the PicFx app. 

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone Lens: John S Flash: Off Film: Ina's 1969

Kayaking in Upper Newport Bay, taken with Hipstamatic and the John S lens--the one I use the most. 


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon  

Downtown L.A. skyscrapers

I was leafing through a book on architectural photography recently and thought it would be fun to give it a try -- I like all the lines and angles. Had a couple minutes before meeting a friend for lunch today in downtown Los Angeles, so whipped out the crappy iPhone 3GS and tried to grab some shots.

Both photos were taken with the Camera Awesome app, although I ran the top photo through Lightroom to get rid of some extra noise. I was trying to capture the reflection of one building in the other in the bottom photo. I was framing a second shot when a security guard chased me off, saying no photography is allowed on the building property. Thank you, war on terror! 


The photos were taken on the northwest corner of 5th and Figueroa. 

Check out some of my other iPhoneography on my SmugMug site. And follow me on Twitter where I occasionally drop some nuggets of wisdom.  


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon 

Half Dome vs Half Dome, Olmstead Point

The view of a model of Half Dome and the real Half Dome, taken at Olmstead Point in Yosemite National Park.

The model of Half Dome versus the real Half Dome at Olmstead Point in Yosemite National Park. Too bad the light sucked. Taken last month. Click above to see larger.

More fun stuff on my SmugMug site and please follow me on Twitter.


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon

Horse on Mt. Hollywood

It's that time of the year again in Southern California -- short days and great light for much of the day. 

I took this one on New Year's Day this year atop Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park. The picnic area at the top is a popular stopover for groups on horseback and also a great place to capture photos of downtown L.A. and the Griffith Observatory.

I processed the image in Photoshop Elements and gave it a sepia tinge that brought out the details in the horse. 

Check out more of my work on SmugMug and follow me on Twitter


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon 

Bear Canyon

Bear Canyon as seen from the East Trail on Mt. Lowe in the Angeles National Forest. This was taken about an hour before sunset with a telephoto lens to compress the distance between the ridges. Mt. Lukens -- with the radio towers -- is in the distance. The trail is easy to reach. Take Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) from La Canada-Flintridge and turn right on Mt. Wilson Road. About a mile from the top, look for a small parking area with spaces on both sides of the road. The trail -- a fire road -- begins on the right (south) side of the road and reaches Mueller Tunnel in half-mile. About quarter-mile after the tunnel, look for footpath marked by small sign on the right. Take the footpath which heads toward Mt. Lowe and offers this view in several locations.

I took this one in April from the East Trail to Mt. Lowe in the Angeles National Forest. Click above to see larger.

It was a little hazy and the trail offers views straight west toward Bear Canyon and Mt. Lukens. I shot this at 55m on the 18-55mm lens that came with my Nikon D5000, which I drowned and replaced with a D5100. Even without a telephoto, I was able to smash all those distant ridgelines together; here's a similar one I shot at 65mm with a telephoto.

It may not be a technically perfect photo -- the light's a little funky -- but so what? It does show how wild and wooly some of the terrain is in the San Gabriel Mountains above the Los Angeles region. The sprawling 'burbs of the San Gabriel Valley are at the base of the mountains on the left side of the frame.

Check out more of my work on my SmugMug site. And follow me on Twitter.


These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon

Bridge to Nowhere

The infamous Bridge to Nowhere along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest. Built in 1936, the road it was intended to serve was lost to the great floods of 1938 in Southern California and never rebuilt.

Tough conditions for a photo. There is no great view of the southern side of the bridge and in mid-afternoon on this first day of standard time, the north side was in the shadows. I tried several different settings and this was my best shot. Not horrible, not great.

A lot of people pan for gold in the East Fork. One gent showed us his day's takings -- he said about $20 worth. Very cool.

Check out more of my work on my SmugMug site. And follow me on Twitter. 


  Gold panning in the East Fork San Gabriel River  
These photos are © Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere on the Internet or in other media without the advanced permission of Steve Hymon.