Levitated Mass

The Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Click here to see really large! 

I wasn't too impressed by the big rock they call art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Hasn't anyone in L.A. been to Yosemite or even the San Gabriel Mountains where big rocks are, quite frankly, a dime a dozen? 

But in the realm of contemporary art, anything goes and if you can persuade a museum board that your poop would be art if only bronzed and framed, well then it's art. 

Anyway, it was a clear day Sunday with great light at sunlight. The above photo was taken with my partner's iPhone5 and then processed in Lightroom. Not bad for a cell phone. 

--S.H.

Malibu Pier

Fisherman on the Malibu Pier looking south toward Santa Monica.

Screwing around with my camera on the Malibu Pier on Friday while the weather was still nice (it has since gone to hell). Click above to see larger. 

Please check out my portfolio on my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter

 --S.H.

This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. 

Mystery rolls unveiled!

As I blogged recently, I found a couple of rolls of slide film hiding behind a jar of pickles in the fridge. So I got them developed and found a bunch of pics from Yellowstone and Yosemite, circa 2005 or so. 

I would hardly call any of them good. They're more like snapshots, albeit snapshots taken on quality film (Fuji Provia). Nonetheless, I scanned a few this week and then did some touching up in Lightroom, sometimes adding a filter or two. 

If nothing else, the photos have that "film" look we often strive to get with our digital equipment. Here are a few of the slides, mistakes and all!:




Old Faithful at Yellowstone. Look -- no one holding up iPhones! 
 

A double rainbow in the Paradise Valley outside Yellowstone. I have no idea how I created so much noise in a slide photo.
 

Silhouette of a moose at Yellowstone.
 

Trail sign at Yellowstone in a forest burned in the infamous 1988 wildfire. 


Watch this slide show!

The New York Times has published its year in pictures slide show; one of my favorites is at right in the screen grab. As expected, there are more than a few images chronicling the year past in terms of human suffering, but there are also photos from the world of sports, culture and politics. 

The lesson for amateurs like you and me: many of these photos are of events that were widely photographed. But photographers often found a way to step back, look around and find a novel way to tell a story with their images. 

Great stuff and congrats to the NYT's talented photo staff. 

--S.H.

Bus crossing Pasadena bridge at sunset

A Metro local bus crosses the Arroyo Seco Bridge in Pasadena on a clear winter day in late 2012.

Click here to see larger on my SmugMug site. 

I took this one for work on Wednesday -- that's the Arroyo Seco/Colorado Avenue Bridge in Pasadena (it goes by both names). I used a telephoto lens to bring the mountains closer to the bridge and took the photo at sunset when the sun, in the southwest, was tossing some pretty amazing light on the bridge. 

--S.H.

This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not used elsewhere without advanced written permission. 

Customizing SmugMug


Check it out: My new-look SmugMug site!

First, a confession: Outside of a few basic html commands, I don't know shit from shinola when it comes to computer coding. The problem, in short, is that I'm just not very smart -- which poses a certain challenge when creating a unique photo website to hawk images and other photo-related merchandise.

On the plus side, I'm not entirely stupid either.

I signed on with SmugMug last year because their photo hosting website does two things that Flickr doesn't allow: you call sell photos and photo-related merchandise for a profit on SmugMug and you can also customize their site. I also have found that some images look better on SmugMug than Flickr.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not Flickr bashing. It's a great site, affordable and it's both fun and easy to share photos with many talented photographers. My partner and I share an account that we use to store pretty much everything. Flickr is also a lot cheaper than SmugMug: $25 a year versus $150 or $300 a year for SmugMug (it's $300 if you want more control over pricing). 

As for SmugMug, I've sold a few images but never got around to really changing the look of my page. With some time over the holidays, I fetched a few beers and plopped myself down in front of the iMac. In only a few hours time, I was able to do a simple redesign of my SmugMug site that, I hope, better highlights my photography.

A few tips that may be helpful to those who also want to tackle SmugMug:

•The easy customizer is, in fact, pretty easy. There's no coding involved. The big thing I did to my page was add a header ("Steve Hymon Photography") and NavBar.

•A photographer named Ryan Oakley has created a series of eight videos that helped guide me through some basic customizations -- I used most of his suggestions, including a nice tip on how to create an "About Me" page within SmugMug's framework (see video #7). You Rule, Ryan!


•There's also a ton of customization tips/help on SmugMug's "Digital Grin" message boards, including this post that explains how to add a bigger, faster slide show to your home page. This involves cutting and pasting some coding into SmugMug's advanced customizer -- but you don't have to understand what you're doing. Just cut-and-paste, baby. 

This thread on Digital Grin explains how to set up a separate galleries page that you can link to from the NavBar. Again, it involves some basic cutting-and-pasting. The goal here is to simplify your home page. In the past, my homepage was cluttered with a slideshow, a bio, featured galleries and a long list of other galleries, as well as a map. I chunked all that stuff in favor of a simple header, NavBar and larger slideshow; the NavBar now guides visitors to the gallery categories on a separate page. 

•I'll save you the trouble of searching for the CSS code to get rid of the "map this" button on your homepage. Cut and paste the following into the CSS box in the advance customizer:


.map_this {display:none}

My new SmugMug page is still very basic. It's possible to do far more than what I've done. Still, I'm as pleased as a pickle in a hot dog factory. My new site is basic but unique and (I hope) shows that I'm serious about my photography. 

Take a look and if you see anything too vomitous, let me know! 

P.S. If you're interested in joining SmugMug, click here. Or enter this coupon code when signing up: 0X3HaXryxrefE

--S.H.

The Eastern Sierra



Click on both to see much larger versions. Which do you like better? (If you're on a desktop computer, I put a poll in the sidebar to the right--it's on top). 

The photo was taken with my Nikon D5100 with the Nikon DX 35mm 1.8 lens. I cropped the hell out of it to get rid of excess sky and pasture that wasn't adding anything to the image -- the drama is in the mountains, and that's where I wanted the focus to be. 

The photo was taken at the wildlife viewing area on the west side of U.S. 395 a few miles south of Big Pine. There's often a herd of tule elk west of the road -- in fact, they were there on Monday, but I didn't have my telephoto lens with me. 

But that could be a good shot for the future -- elk + mountains + sunrise? Hmm. 

--S.H.

These photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used or published elsewhere without my express written permission. 

Fixing color fringe in Lightroom



As I've written before, I'm an amateur when it comes to many aspects of digital photography -- particularly the whole processing thing. I'm learning as I go. 

Example: I was messing around with my Mt. Whitney-at-sunset photo when I noticed some pretty bad color fringing between the edges of the mountains and the sky. It's only visible when zooming way, way in on the photo -- but still. Maybe one day I'll want to cover the side of my house with the photo! 

Some quick Googling explained that this is a pretty common problem -- and now easy to fix in Adobe Lightroom. In fact, the Adobe people explain the issue in this post if you care to understand the ultra-technical nature of the problem (I don't). 

Go to the Lens Correction box on the right side of the photo in the 'develop mode.' That's your new best friend. Click on 'color' and up comes four sliders that fix the fringing problem. Begin sliding and soon the problem is fixed. See below: 


It's one more reason I like Lightroom. Everything is easy and I can spend less time processing photos and more time taking them or doing something else that's fun. 

--S.H.

Clouds over Taboose Pass

Looking up the road that leads to the Taboose Pass Trail in the Eastern Sierra on a stormy December afternoon.

Here's another photo of the Eastern Sierra taken late Monday afternoon on my drive from Mammoth Lakes to Pasadena. Click above to see larger. 

The photo was taken about a half-mile west of U.S. 395 on the road leading to the start of the Taboose Pass Trail, which climbs more than 6,000 hot and dusty feet from the Owens Valley to the Kings Canyon National Park backcountry. I've never been up there -- that's a stiff climb, people. 

As for the photo, I took it with my Nikon D5100 using the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX lens (in other words, that's about $650 of camera equipment according to current prices). No tripod -- I had forgotten it at home. I shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom. I didn't do much processing although I used the graduated filter tool to darken up the storm clouds and sharpen the image. 

I wish there weren't electrical towers in the lower part of the shot -- but, hey, they're part of the landscape. 

BTW, prints/merchandise of this photo are available for very affordable prices on my SmugMug site. You can make this photo into a picture puzzle, refrigerator magnet or slap it on a coffee mug or playing cards. Click here and then click on 'merchandise.'

And if such crass commercialism doesn't offend you, follow me on Twitter where I occasionally dispense wisdom and links to this blog and my attempts to figure out what I'm doing photographically-speaking. 

--S.H.

This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced permission. 

Sunset over Mt. Whitney

The sunset on Dec. 17, 2012, over the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine Peak (left) and Mt. Whitney.
Nice little sunset Monday afternoon over Mt. Whitney and the Alabama Hills -- click above to view larger. The prominent peak in the middle of the shot is Lone Pine Peak; Whitney's peak is on the right side of the frame, to the right of the pinnacles. 

I took this photo from one from the side of U.S. 395, just north of Lone Pine. I used my Nikon D5100 and 35mm 1.8 lens. I gave the photo a healthy crop in Lightroom to get rid of a barb wire fence in the foreground and a tree on the right side of the frame that had a nice shape but blended too much into the background. 

If you're a Sierra or photo buff and the view looks familiar, there's a good reason why: Ansel Adams took one of his well-known images here in 1944 of a winter sunrise throwing great light on Whitney and the Alabama Hills. He removed the "LP" from his print, saying (correctly) it was a blemish on a spectacular landscape. 

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

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advance permission. 

Storm over Mammoth Mountain

 

The Weather Gods about to gobble up the top of Chair 2 at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday.

The photo was taken with an iPhone5 -- the camera is awesome btw -- and heavily cropped and processed with the Snapseed app.

--S.H.

Help finding a good camera


I was doodling around on Flickr and found these interesting charts showing the most popular cameras used on Flickr, a very popular photo-sharing website. There's even more info on the page -- check it out

I thought they may be helpful to anyone trying to cope with picking a camera from the mind-bending number available on the market. I firmly believe that Canon and Nikon and a few other popular brands have so many different models in order to ensure every possible price point and configuration is covered -- and, in particular, to make customers feel bad about whichever they buy, giving them reason to buy another. 

One thing that's kind of interesting: a few of the cameras listed above are very pricey -- the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (the most recent model is more than $3,000 and the Fujifilm FinePix X100 is typically more than $1,000). Of course, the charts may be a reflection that serious shutterbugs post more pics. 

My two cents: I'm perfectly content with my Nikon D51000 as my DSLR (see this post) and I use my iPhone 3GS as my point-n-shoot. I'll upgrade to an iPhone 5 when my contract is up. 

Related: ideas for photography-related gifts this holiday season

--S.H.

Instagram Dog



After kicking me in the nuts at the Bruce Springsteen show with mostly crap photos, my iPhone 3GS actually got bat on ball at the coffee shop this morning. The photo was taken with Instagram using the 'sutro' filter. Not bad! 

Click above to see larger. And please check out my work on SmugMug; prints and merchandise (T-shirts, coffee mugs, magnets, puzzles, etc.) are available at reasonable prices! 

--S.H.

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

Bruce Springsteen in Anaheim, part 2


Wish this photo was sharper -- thanks iPhone 3GS! 

I actually managed to get eight decent -- emphasis on 'decent' -- pics out of my iPhone at the Anaheim Springsteen show thanks to a lot of processing in Lightroom. Here's the entire gallery. Click above to see that one larger. 

 A couple may even look good on a coffee mug, which btw you can purchase from my SmugMug site (click on the shopping cart). Affordable and the perfect stocking stuffer for the Bruce fan in your life. 

--S.H.

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

Bruce Springsteen in Anaheim



This is the best I could manage last night in Anaheim with my iPhone 3gs. I used a lomo preset in Lightroom and did some other tinkering to try to sharpen up the image. A couple other photos are in this gallery on my SmugMug page.

I didn't take many photos during the show -- I was right behind the risers at the back of the pit and wanted to enjoy the music. But I was surprised how often the iPhone missed of the few shots I took -- I suspect the camera on the iPhone 4s and 5 is many times better than the piece of crap on the 3GS. 


Amazing show, btw. It was the 18th Springsteen show I've seen since Dec. 1984 and this might have been the best. He played for almost three-and-a-half hours straight, covering songs from throughout his 40-year recording career. One of many highlights: a beautiful solo version of "Long Time Coming," an under appreciated gem from the "Devils and Dust" album. 

The "Ghost of Tom Joad," "Badlands" and "Thunder Road trio that finished off the main set was ridiculous. As was opening the show with another of my favorites, "Land of Hopes and Dreams" and then ripping straight into "Adam Raised a Cain" and "Streets of Fire." 


The material from "Wrecking Ball" also sounded damn good. Hey Bruce - keep playing the new stuff! It's every bit as great as the old stuff. They're all good! 


--S.H.

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

In-N-Out, Saturday Night

The In-N-Out Burger on Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena on a rainy Saturday night.
Every time I go to the In-N-Out in Pasadena, I end up taking a few photos. It's one of the old-timey In-N-Outs -- basically just a pair of drive-thru windows and a couple of benches. I find the place terribly photogenic and a nice little slice of Americana. 

I don't know if any of these efforts are anything great, but I kind of dig them. I converted the above one to black and white because I liked the tones and the In-N-Out as both the primary source of light and obvious gathering point for any cars in the area. (Here's a color version for sake of comparison, albeit cropped tighter). 

The bottom photo was processed in Lightroom using a lomo preset I downloaded from the Adobe site. Interesting. Both photos were taken with my Nikon D5100 with a 35mm 1.8 lens that's great for night photography. 

Interestingly, there isn't much in the way of inspired photography of In-N-Out Burgers on Flickr with the exception of many loving closeups of Double Doubles. I guess people get so hypnotized by the food they forget how to take a good picture; I know it wasn't easy taking these photos with a sackful of food smelling very good on my front seat. 

Please feel free to check out some of my other work at my SmugMug site and then spend gobs of money on prints, merchandise and digital licenses. And follow me on Twitter

 --S.H.
 

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.

Mystery rolls


Found these three in the fridge on Friday. No idea what's on them -- except for 'Sierra' scrawled on one. Haven't shot film in years. Dropped 'em off at the camera store, so mystery soon solved...

--S.H.