Like a House on Fire – Night Photography in Central Oregon.
Exploring Central Oregon is always fun for me. I really like seeing the remnants of the old buildings of farms and barns that have seen their better days. These old rustic structures are photogenic in most any light but I like to find ones that might look good in a night photo. Central Oregon is a great place for night shots. The skies are dark and the stars are bright.
This photograph is a good example of the beautiful and dramatic night photos that one can create from a day of exploring Central Oregon. This dilapidated old home turned out to be a good subject for a Milky Way photo. The way that I created this was to use two photos blended in post. I took the photo of the house before it got completely dark and the Milky Way photo way after it turned dark, close to Midnight.
The foreground is a single exposure while the Milky Way sky is 5 exposures combined to minimize noise. I used the Sky Replacement feature in Photoshop to help with the blending.
Although our adventures were severely limited in 2020 we were able to make it to Alaska for our annual workshop. It took a lot of work to arrange including several covid tests, quarantining and a lot of common sense, hand sanitizer/washing hands and a lot of carefulling. And I’m so glad that we did though. The year would have felt like a total failure otherwise.
This year’s Alaska trip was one of the most memorable visits that we’ve had and I attribute it to the time that we spent with the grizzly bears on the Kenai River. When you spend several days in close proximity to a particular family of Alaska grizzly bears you start to become emotionally attached. In the four days that we spent watching and photographing them we all fell in love with this bear family. Their ultimate demise cemented their memory in our minds forever.
While we were there one of my workshop participants nicknamed them The Candy Family due to their caramel and chocolate colors. Sadly this family was dead within a week of us leaving. The momma and one cub were killed on the road the follows the river as they were crossing. Soon after a second cub was killed at the same spot. The third baby was put down by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game because it wouldn’t leave the scene and was deemed a hazard. All of us in the workshop were devastated when we heard the news. There’s more information about this sad news HERE.
To have these photos in my portfolio is a dream realized. Being around real live Alaska grizzly bears and photographing them has been a dream of mine for a very long time. This was the second time that I’ve been able to photograph the bears at a close distance and I’m looking forward to doing it again during next years workshop. Perhaps you’d consider joining us on our 2021 Alaska Adventure.
This is a series of the bears that I wanted to share as ten of my best, or favorite, photos of 2020. I will post ten of my favorite landscape photos soon. I hope that you enjoy them. Happy New Year my friends. Please be safe while driving and watch for wildlife.
Morning Mist in The Trees – Mornings are a wonderful time of the day to take photos. Sometimes you’re rewarded with a beautiful sunrise, and other times you’re rewarded when the sunrise doesn’t work the way that you had planned. The beautiful view of the Sandy River Valley from the promontory Jonsrud Viewpoint is a great place for photos no matter the conditions.
This beautiful scene is available in several mediums and sizes. Please click on the link to see what options that are available for this photo.
Hi everyone. I am always thankful to those who purchase one of my calendars each year. This year I have added a couple of wildlife photos to make my 2021 Gary Randall Nature Calendars. Including the majestic grizzly bears that we were blessed to be able to spend time with on this last trip to Alaska. CLICK HERE to order yours.
For those who are fans of the bears I’m glad to announce that Darlene has compiled a calendar that’s strictly bear photos. For those who know us, you know how much Darlene loves Alaska and the bears. CLICK HERE
This year’s calendar includes some of my favorite photos some of my trips. Photos include:
Snow Cave, Alaska
Virgin Creek Falls, Alaska
Cross Fox, Alaska
The Mt Hood National Forest, Oregon
The Mt Hood National Forest, Oregon
Bald Eagle, San Juan Islands Washington
Comet NEOWISE, Mt Hood, Oregon
Mount Hood Oregon Sunset
Mount Hood Oregon Autumn
Grizzly Bear, Alaska
Spirit Falls, Washington
In addition to the calendars I’m offering a limited edition set of Gary Randall landscape photography “posters”. The frame up incredibly well and are an excellent choice for those who would love to have one of my photos in their home but are hard to justify the price, or for those who are collectors of my work. I’m offering up five scenes and if you buy four you get the fifth for free.
Shaniko Oregon Ghost Town Photo Clinic – July 28, 2018 – Gary Randall Photography announces a day exploring the central Oregon ghost town of Shaniko.
This will be a 1 day field trip photo clinic. Although Gary will cover the basics, this will be a great class for intermediate or advanced photographers who want insight into how I create my photos.
The workshop will be held at Shaniko just north of Madras in Central Oregon. The group will meet at 10am in front of the Shaniko Hotel. We will have a lesson and then we will put into practice the techniques explained by Gary during his talk. Gary will be available throughout the workshop to answer questions, give tips and advice.
The price is only $150. !!!
Class size is very limited so sign up right away to reserve your spot. CLICK HERE to sign up.
Fort Rock Night Photography – After a drive from my home here on the south side of Mount Hood to Central Oregon for some Fort Rock Night Photography. I and my friend Rob arrived at the Fort Rock Museum, what’s left of the history of this little town, and the geologic feature it’s named for. It was a little after midnight when we arrived. The old buildings at the museum were our goal for the evening, although it was our third stop on the two day trip, and we were excited at our chances at photographing the Milky Way in the sky above.
As a photographer I understand that, no matter how much I try to prepare it seems that there’s always some sort of unforeseen situation that pops up. In this case the complication came in the form of a huge invasive orange street light illuminating the scene. This actually created two complications. The street light created a huge range of light from the buildings to the dark sky which wouldn’t allow a longer exposure which is required to allow the sky to be exposed properly. When the sky was exposed properly the buildings were overexposed and vice versa. The second complication being the hot orange white balance of the light. Sodium lights produce a very narrow spectrum of light, meaning that it’s basically a monochrome image, kind of like a black and white but orange. No other color is represented and so it’s near impossible to correct for this type of light. To say the least I was a bit disappointed. Never one to just give up I decided to shoot the area nonetheless.
After we were done at Fort Rock we wrapped up the trip with a sunrise at the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes. It was a long trip with no sleep but an excellent adventure. We returned with photos from Smith Rock, Sparks Lake, Fort Rock and Christmas Valley all in a matter of about 24 hours.
Once home and after downloading my photos the realization that all of my photos from Fort Rock were affected by the aforementioned sodium street light started to sink in.
I’ve had to photograph under sodium lighting in the past but I just rolled with it, either that or I converted them to black and white. Many of the photos that I made in France were under this same orange light. In this case I didn’t want to roll with it. I wanted to take some time and process the photos into the images that I drove so far to create. I had to decide what approach that I would take.
While I was at the location I decided to take two photos for each final photo that I would make. One would be exposed for the sky while another was exposed for the buildings. After some thought I decided on a workflow that included the following:
Import into Lightroom for basic adjustments and then import both photos into Photoshop as layers
Convert the building layer that was bathed in the orange glow to black and white and do finished contrast adjustments
Adjust the sky layer with the Milky way
Create a mask to bring the sky into the black and white building layer
Create a 50% grey layer with Soft Light blend mode and select a brown color and paint the buildings and adjust opacity until it looks right
Create a 50% grey layer with Soft Light blend mode and select a drab green color and paint the sagebrush and adjust opacity until it looks right
Make final separate adjustments of separate layers
Merge layers and create final adjustments
Size and sharpen
It’s always my goal to get my photos in a single exposure and I try my best to make my processing as simple as possible to get the best effect but there are times when one must push the envelope and salvage a long drive to the middle of nowhere. In this case my creativity and knowledge of Photoshop was tested. Although it wasn’t exactly what I went for I think that the final images were salvaged, at the very least.