Botany Bay? Botany Bay! … Oh no!

On our first trip in the camper to Edisto Beach, SC, Michelle mentioned going to Botany Bay Plantation. I knew I had heard that name somewhere before, and I kept racking my brain to figure it out. Turns out, that SS Botany Bay is the name of Kahn’s ship in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (and later in Star Trek: Into Darkness). Of course that name came from the original Botany Bay in Australia, which was a penal colony. After discovering the geeky nature of my recollection, I repeatedly quoted this line from Pavel Chekov when he discovers the identity of the mysterious marooned ship.

When Michelle showed me pictures of the old trees on the beach, I couldn’t wait to get there to capture the sunrise. Of course, the weather didn’t cooperate very well … or maybe it did. A dense layer of fog blanketed the sun. This gave a certain mystical and lonely quality to the shots that I had not anticipated, but that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fog was like a giant softbox, giving even lighting over the trees and lightly shrouding the other objects in a distance. This really helped me isolate my subjects and also gave me an interesting canvas in the background to use various processing techniques and textures. I processed all of the following shots with a combination of MacPhun’s Tonality Pro and Karen Hutton‘s and Tanya Wallis’ forthcoming texture pack.

We have several more images from the Botany Bay Plantation shoot on the way, but I am grouping them in different blog posts. The area has so many types of landscapes: bogs, marshes, ponds, streams, dense forest, farmland, and beaches. It really was a great place to practice a variety of landscape and nature shots.

This was one of my telephoto images with the a6000. I used a basic black and white conversion in Tonality Pro and added the Bursty Blur texture from the texture pack.

This was one of my telephoto images with the a6000. I used a basic black and white conversion in Tonality Pro and added the Bursty Blur texture from the texture pack. Print Available.

i had some fun with the wide angle distortion on this one! I liked the effect that the Sandy Cool texture had on it. It seemed to fit the beach theme.

i had some fun with the wide angle distortion on this one! I liked the effect that the Sandy Cool texture had on it. It seemed to fit the beach theme. Print Available.

I went for an authentic Ceti Alpha 5 look to this one, with the reddish goodness. To add texture, I used "Face it - Scratched" from the texture pack.

I went for a Ceti Alpha 5 look to this one, with the reddish goodness. To add texture, I used “Face it – Scratched” from the texture pack. Print Available.

Since I saw the name "Alien Skin Burn" in the texture pack, I've always wanted to use it. It seemed to fit the mood of this photo very well.

Since I saw the name “Alien Skin Burn” in the texture pack, I’ve always wanted to use it. It seemed to fit the mood of this photo well. Print Available.

After the split tone processing in Tonality Pro, I added the "Cold Skin" texture to this photo. It enhanced the blue tones and added a cool vignette.

After the split tone processing in Tonality Pro, I added the “Cold Skin” texture to this photo. It enhanced the blue tones and added a cool vignette. Print Available.

One of my favorite split-tone presets in Tonality Pro is "Blue Morning." Split-toning involves taking a black and white image and adding two different tints to the shadows and the highlights. In this case, the shadows get a blue tint, and the highlights get a golden tint. I decided not to use a texture on this one.

One of my favorite split-tone presets in Tonality Pro is “Blue Morning.” Split-toning involves taking a black and white image and adding two different tints to the shadows and the highlights. In this case, the shadows get a blue tint, and the highlights get a golden tint. I decided not to use a texture on this one because I liked the contrast between the textured ocean and the smooth sky. Print Available.

All images © 2015 Garber Geektography

We Found what we were Looking for at Joshua Tree National Park

Maybe it’s because I was born in Arizona or spent half of my childhood in El Paso. Or maybe it’s because I spent the other half of my childhood imagining I was Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Whatever the case, I love desolate desert landscapes. We spent half of our Thanksgiving holiday in a desolate landscape photographer’s dreamland: Joshua Tree National Park. And, yes, we listened to U2 on our way there. As one friend told me, that’s not cliché. It’s classic. Here are some of our favorite images from our first day at the park. We focused the first part of our visit on the Joshua trees and the rock formations. We’ll post some images later in the week of the Cholla Cactus Garden and the Cottonwood Oasis.

Bowing to Shemesh

“Bowing to Shemesh.” Just hanging’ out with some sun worshippers at sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. Actually, the Joshua trees allegedly got their names from Mormon travelers who thought the trees looked like Joshua raising his arms leading them to the promised landPrint Available.

This seemed like a wise old Joshua Tree. I had fun combining different effects from various plugins for a more artistic approach.

This seemed like a wise old Joshua Tree. I had fun combining different effects from various plugins for a more artistic approach. Print Available.

We got a little starburst happy on this trip. Michelle caught this great one in the middle of a well developed Joshua Tree. We had fun processing this as a split tone in MacPhun's Tonality Pro. Print Available.

We got a little starburst happy on this trip. Michelle caught this great one in the middle of a well developed Joshua Tree. We had fun processing this as a split tone in MacPhun‘s Tonality Pro. Print Available.

Speaking of starbursts, it's not all about the trees at Joshua Tree. There's lots of rocky fun, too! I liked how the solar flare worked on this one.

Speaking of starbursts, it’s not all about the trees at Joshua Tree. There’s lots of rocky fun, too! I liked how the solar flare worked into the green spots on this one.

Stony Texture

Michelle loves to photograph textures and shapes, and this shot definitely demonstrates that. Again, we used MacPhun’s Tonality Pro for some purply monochrome action on this one. Print available.

Michelle also has a thing for paths. Apparently when the Joshua Trees get too top-heavy, they fall over in the desert wind. In fact, the famous Joshua Tree from the U2 album cover fell down in 2000.

Michelle also has a thing for paths. Apparently when the Joshua Trees get too top-heavy, they fall over in the desert wind. In fact, the famous Joshua Tree from the U2 album cover fell down in 2000. We had some fun with textures and sepia in MacPun on this one.

The landscapes at the Joshua Tree National Park are so diverse. I loved having the chance here to get a Joshua Tree with the mountains in the background. Coming soon: the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood Oasis.

The landscapes at the Joshua Tree National Park are so diverse. I loved having the chance here to get a Joshua Tree with the mountains in the background. Coming soon: the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood Oasis.

Fall Fun Fest, Chapter Four: Rediscovering Stone Mountain Park

When I first moved to Atlanta, I spent a lot of time at Stone Mountain Park: walking the dog, hiking, biking. As the years went on, I lost interest in the location. In the past couple of months, though, Michelle and I have been visiting the park to practice our photography, and we have discovered it from some different perspectives.

Stone Mountain Sunset

A Stone Mountain sunset on the west side from the road that leads up to the songbird habitat.

Songbird Trail

A fun trail through the wooded area of the songbird habitat.

One of the new discoveries I made this past weekend was the Songbird Habitat Trail. It is on a less-traveled road in the park, which means there are fewer people, dogs, bikes, and cars. The sanctuary itself has some very nice trails through a meadow, and is quite peaceful and serene. I didn’t do any birding, but had a good time shooting some landscapes.

And Michelle explored the world in miniature with a macro lens that we rented.

Michelle explored the world in miniature with a macro lens that we rented. This was some moss on the granite by the waterline.

The next morning, Michelle and I went to the Grist Mill. It is on the eastern side, so you need to be there in the morning to get the best light. Otherwise, the big hunk of granite known as Stone Mountain will cast a shadow over the whole area.

Michelle had some fun playing with a macro lens we rented to test for an upcoming trip. She loves to go into a different universe and see things in unique ways.

Songbird trail around sunset.

The songbird habitat is on the eastern side and is beautiful during the sunset golden hour.

There were some beautiful autumn trees with great color around the mill.

There were some colorful autumn trees around the mill.

Rusty screw

Michelle loves to play with texture, and this rusty screw in the wood filled the bill.

Burlap.

She also had fun exploring the fibrous universe of burlap that was lying around for a landscape project.

Autumn Grist Mill

Some autumn colors framing the grist mill.

Mad Sally Lake

The Eagles are Coming! What Happens when your Vocation and Avocation Meet?

Bryce Canyon

A Bryce Canyon shot, Summer 2013.

Autumn of 2013 was particularly difficult for me in terms of life balance. After coming home that summer from a wonderful vacation in the western United States, I went into a bit of a rut photographically. I had seen and shot so many beautiful things that I found it difficult to be creative on my home turf.  That fall, I also had a very heavy teaching load, student count, and other professional obligations. In short, I was having problems motivating myself to get out and shoot, and my workload gave me a great excuse to lay fallow.

Turkey Vulture

A recuperating turkey vulture at the Chattahoochee Nature Center strikes a pose, December 2013.

I knew by the end of the semester that I needed a good outing, so the day after I submitted all my grades, I took some time to recharge. I decided to go to the Chattahoochee Nature Center on the north side of Atlanta, cameras at the ready. I didn’t know quite what to expect. I learned that the center provides a serene setting to rehabilitate and nurture injured wildlife, especially birds of prey. I began by practicing my wildlife shots on some of these birds before going on a nature hike around the grounds. As I hiked, I vainly pursued a cardinal who was proving quite elusive (Michelle really wants a good cardinal print to hang up in the winter). I took a couple of landscape shots of the river and pond, and I tried my hand at some more detailed nature shots as well. Continue reading