Bench with the View (Point Lobos)

Point Lobos State Reserve is located at the north end of the Big Sur coast area and it is a big place. It took me 4 visits in the span of 3 years to be familiar with the different parts of the park.

During my last visit to Point lobos I knew in advance what sections of the park I wanted to visit and what I was going to photograph. After I was finished with my photography, I had plenty of time just to slow down and enjoy the park.

This is one of those places where I could spend hours just sitting and enjoying the view of China Cove and the Big Sur coast.

Shooting and Processing

I probably did not have to use tripod in this situation and I could easily achieve the same result shooting handheld. But, since I had my camera mounted on tripod already, I took 3 bracketed shots with my landscape setup.

If you check the original, straight from the camera shot below, you can see that the scene had pretty dynamic light with the dark shadows in the foreground and a very bright sky but, once again, I did not have to use HDR processing. I used Lightroom preset based workflow, using Tropical Morning preset as a starting point (you can download my free presets here).

Bench with the View - California. Big Sur. Point Lobos

California. Big Sur. Point Lobos
Loc: 36.508742, -121.941213

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Inspirations: HAWAII – 30 Best Travel and Landscape Photographs

Every week I feature my handpicked selection of the best photographs. Each selection illustrates one amazing location from around the world which I found unique and that inspires me to travel and improve my photography.

Today’s theme for inspiration is HAWAII. This is year I had an opportunity to visit Hawaii for the first time and I was extremely impressed with the its beauty and uniqueness. I even included two of my photos in today’s selection.

Hawaii is only the third state of USA, after Montana and Oregon, which I featured on this blog in the inspirations series. At the same time, 9 USA National Parks was previously featured: Yellowstone National Park,  Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Yosemite, Monument Valley,Antelope Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon

Photograph Na Pali Coast Too by Randy Dietmeyer on 500px




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Sunrise Over the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail (Hawaii)

Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is very interesting an unconventional location for couple of the reasons. First, it is not “sanctioned” trail at all, it is an old restricted road which leads towards the cell tower and you have to trespass at your own risk.

Second, there is no signs to enter the trail and it can be challenging to find it when you first time there but it also means much smaller crowds compare to the “official” trails.

Also, when you walk along the rim of the crater where this is almost no vegetation, you witness incredible open views in all directions.

The featured photo is the view to the east. You can see the Diamond Head at the horizon with the Honolulu behind it.

Shooting and Processing

It was very wind at the top of the rim and I had to make sure I kept my tripod steady, applying pressure with my weight to it. I opted for slower shutter speed of 1/20 sec to achieve blurry effect of moving grass in the foreground.

Even though, I shot 3 bracketed exposures, I used Lightroom Presets workflow processing only one RAW image. I started with HDR Blend preset (you can download my free presets here) and customized it slightly by adding more orange color to the sky.

Gawaii. O’ahu. Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
Loc: 21.272665, -157.698772

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Climbing the Sugarloaf at Montmorency Falls (Canada)

“Sugarloaf” is the unique occurrence at the bottom of the Montmorency Falls near Quebec City. It forms when the waterfall’s falling water evaporates first (even at the coldest temperatures) and almost immediately freezes, falling then to the ground as the white powder.

“Sugarloaf” is a big attraction among the visitors of the falls as everyone tries to climb it. The day I took this shot, only a few of the most skilled climbers managed to get to the top because it was very steep and slippery.

I did not even attempt to try because I had a camera hanging around my neck.

Shooting and Processing

It was too cold to set up a tripod, so I walked around only the camera (Sony A6000) and one lens (Sony 10-18mm). I took three bracketed shots as I usually do, handheld.

For the processing, I used Lightroom preset based workflow (you can download my free presets here) without involving any HDR applications. One RAW exposure was enough to process this photo.

Travel Photography Blog - Quebec. Montmorency Falls

Canada. Quebec. Montmorency Falls
Loc: 46.889722, -71.146944

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Magic Light in Old Montreal (Canada)

For the last couple of months, each time I posted a winter photograph I always hoped that it would be the last photo of the season with snow in it. But, it looks like winter is never going to end. It is now the end of March but the temperature is still below freezing and, we had another snowfall only a couple of days ago.

However, the evening I took the featured photo was very warm and pleasant with the temperature slightly above freezing and no wind. I was in Old Montreal and it was the perfect time for photo hunting.

I noticed this spot because of the unusual combination of three light sources. Source number one was ambient light which was still present. The second light source was a lamp post behind me which had a prominent orange hue and, the light I placed in my composition, for some inexplicable reason, had a different color; it was yellow.

It looked and felt very unnatural, as if I was on a movie set. But, unnatural and unusual stuff very often result in interesting photography.

Shooting and Processing

I did not have a tripod with me but, even if I did, I probably would not have bothered to set it up. I shot three bracketed shots hand-held (-1, 0, +1) while trying to keep my camera as steady as possible because the slowest shutter speed was at 1/40.

I used the HDR Pro module of Photoshop  (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“) to merge 3 bracketed shots to HDR.

California. Big Sur. Pfeiffer State Beach
Loc: 36.23815, -121.81489


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Three bracketed shots (-1, 0 +1)
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Photography Tips (#05): Long Exposure Photography Without a Tripod

If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably noticed that I am big on including open water in both my landscapes and cityscapes. Actually, the majority of my photos have some kind of water in them: oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, etc. My favorite technique, when shooting water, is to use long exposure photography. When you keep the shutter open for an extended period of time, it creates the unique effect of smooth and silky looking water.

My standard approach is to use normal exposure to take bracketed shots of the scene. Afterward, I take a couple of single (non-bracketed) long exposure shots of the same scene in order to achieve this beautiful silky effect in the water. Later, in post processing, I combine the two shots together in Photoshop, using only the area with the water from the long exposure shot and, the rest I keep from standard exposure. This way, I have beautiful smooth and silky looking water with sharp surroundings.
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Inspirations: VENICE – 30 Best Travel and Landscape Photographs

Every week I feature my handpicked selection of the best photographs. Each selection illustrates one amazing location from around the world which I found unique and that inspires me to travel and improve my photography.

Today’s theme for inspiration is VENICE. Venice is probably the most unique city on earth and every person who is interested in photography should visit it. No excuses.

Venice is only the second city, after Chicago, which I featured on this blog in the inspirations series. At the same time, the countries featured more often include Namibia, Iceland, Norway, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma and Peru.



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Cows at Point Sur Lightstation (California)

The Point Sur Lightstation is one of the most beautiful spots in Coastal California and I have enjoyed the opportunity to photograph it on many occasions. One of my favorite photographs in my portfolio was taken from the exactly same spot, exactly one year prior to the day I took the featured photo  (Point Sur Lightstation at Sunset).

After driving along the California State Route 1 four different times, I never had an opportunity to photograph McWay Falls, one of the iconic spots in the Big Sur, in favorable light. That day in February, my plan was to stay at McWay Bay until sunset and then drive directly to my hotel in Monterey. Finally, I was lucky. The evening light was amazing even before the sunset and, after I took plenty of interesting photos (The McWay Bay at Sunset) I realized that I still had time to hit another spot during the golden hour.

I jumped into the car and drove like a man possessed for 30km to the Point Sur Lightstation. I was there just in time to take this photo.

Shooting + Processing

If you follow my blog you probably know that a few months ago I switched from the Canon DSLR to the Sony Mirrorless (you can find details here: Top Reason Why I Switched from Canon to Sony). Now, I am starting to see the unexpected consequences of the switch and how it is changing the way I process my photos.

When I switched from the Canon 60D to the Sony A6000, I did not pay much attention to the fact that I was getting a much bigger sensor (24Mp) since I was very content with Canon’s 16Mp. What I am starting to see now is that the new generation 24Mp sensor, in combination with high quality lenses from Sony and Zeiss, resolves an insane amount of details, produces images with wider dynamic range and collects much more information from the scene.

I have found that in many situations I do not have to use HDR processing anymore. I can use a single RAW in Lightroom and achieve the same result.

This is exactly what happened with the featured photo. I took three bracketed shots with the plan to merge them to HDR in Photoshop HDR Pro but, after analyzing the RAW files, I realized that I could easily bypass HDR processing without sacrificing any quality.

I started the processing in Lightroom by applying the Gentle Wave Preset from my Free Lightroom Preset Collection (you can download it here) and, after fine tuning it, I applied a few final touches and noise reduction in Photoshop.

Check the Before & After widget below of the featured image to see how many details I managed to retrieve from underexposed areas of the original image.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Big Sur. Point Sur Lightstation

California. Big Sur. Point Sur Lightstation
Loc: 36.326319, -121.894188

Deconstructing Featured Photo [Read more…]

Free Lightroom Presets – Essential 12 Preset Collection!

I remember when I started with the digital photography I was so excited about new digital workflow and I hoped it would save me enormous amount of time on processing photos. But few years later I realized that I was spending more time in front of the computer than outside taking photos. This is when I developed my new workflow which centered around Lightroom Presets and helped me to cut time on post processing dramatically.

Free Lightroom Presets - Essential 12 Preset Collection!

As the photographer I’ve been using Lightroom since it was introduced as the beta version in 2006. Lightroom is the most valuable tool for me as a photographer as it helps me to organize tens of thousands of my photos and save an enormous amount time on editing.

My favorite and most valuable feature of Lightroom is the ability to create PRESETS.

What are Lightroom Presets?

A “preset” is the functionality that allows us to record editing steps for the future use. Example: I may spend 45-60 minutes editing a photo, adjusting endless amount of sliders in Lightroom and, when I am happy with the look of the photo, I can save all the editing adjustments as a PRESET. Next time, if I want to reuse it, it takes only a second to apply it to another photo. What is even more amazing is the fact that I can apply the saved PRESET to multiple photos at once. [Read more…]

Golden Gate Bridge Geometry (California)

After 10 days of hiking and driving through Hawaii and California and shooting the landscapes exclusively, it was a nice change to be in San Francisco (What to See and Photograph in San Francisco If You Only Have 2 Hours) and to have an opportunity to practice some architectural compositions.

Over the years, I got to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on any occasions and, to be honest, I never liked the experience. It has always been very uncomfortable because of the strong wind and heavy traffic of pedestrians and cyclists. In combination with the vibrations caused by passing cars, I never considered the Golden Gate Bridge to be a good photography location.

In the beginning of February 2015, I was happy to admit that I was completely wrong and, that in the right conditions, it could be an amazing photo location. On that winter day, it was around 20°C with absolutely no wind and, for same strange reason, absolutely no tourists. I finally had a chance to compose the shot I had on my mind for long time.

Travel Photography Blog - California. San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge

California. San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge
Loc: 37.807374, -122.475304

Shooting + Processing

The idea for the shot was to convey the scale of the Golden Gate Bridge and its unique geometry. I placed my tripod with the camera as close as possible to the structure and used the widest possible focal length (10mm) to exaggerate the proportions.

I took three bracketed shots with the intention to merge multiple shots to HDR later in Photomatix or Photoshop HDR Pro. But, when I analyzed the bracketed shots in Lightroom, I realized that I could complete processing with just one single RAW file. I used -1EV shot (the darkest one) and applied one of my Lightroom presets ( (you can download my free presets here).

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Bracketing shots (-1, 0, +1)
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