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September 18, 2016
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Fall Colors Across The Country

Fall colors have arrived in many places, and are spreading across the country. Reds, yellows, oranges and other colors are popping up everywhere, so grab your camera and take some great photographs of Mother Nature’s big show.

To help you get the most out of your shooting, I’ve updated my annual list of links about Fall colors and where to find them. Since I live in Arizona, I’ve put together a special section for my state.

Changing colors

Oak leaf in Williams, Arizona

As you go to these sites, you will often find many links to other sites. You could easily spend an entire day following link after link, or just go to the main pages I have listed here.

I hope you get some fantastic photographs this year. Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your images of changing colors. I’m sure everyone would love to see them.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Arizona

Finding Fall Color in Arizona – An About.com site with lots of links to information about changing colors in Arizona.

Fall Colors on the Coconino – This Coconino National Forest site explains why leaves change colors, what trees produce what colors, and hikes to see this wonder of nature.

Fall Colors – Current Forest Information – You can find up-to-date changing color information here.

Changing Colors

Aspens near Flagstaff, Arizona

The Rest Of The Country

Current Fall Foliage – The Weather Channel has a map of the U.S. showing where the leaves are changing colors by region.

Fall Color Report – Wisconsin – Detailed information on color changes, and when the colors will peak.

Fall Color Report – Minnesota – Detailed information on where the leaves are changing color in Minnesota.

Fall Colors – The Great Smokey Mountains – A National Park Service site with detailed information about leaves changing color in the Great Smokey Mountains, as well as hikes and drives to take.

Fall Color Webcams – Webcams across the country.

Leef Peepers – Links and phone numbers for fall foliage information for New England, Midwest, Rockies, West and South.

Natural History Wanderings – A long list of links from across the country that track changing colors.

State by State Guide to Fall Foliage – An About.com site with information on changing colors in many states.

Travel Notes – A list of links from various states.

There’s a National Fall Color Hotline too, 1-800-354-4595. Call this number and choose the area of the country you’re interested in and get information on leaf color, scenic drives, peak times for the colors and other fall activities.

Changing colors

Aspen leaves on fallen log at Snowbowl, Arizona

Canada

Natural History Wanderings – A list of several sites that track changing colors.

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September 6, 2016
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Jeff’s Arizona Adventures – Walnut Canyon National Monument

My wife, Linda-Ann, and I have been visiting Walnut Canyon for decades, and we never tire of its beauty and calmness.

Walnut Canyon is a wide canyon of rock, petrified sand dunes and pine forest with a peninsula of rock sticking out into the canyon for a short distance. The sides of the canyon are dotted with Native American rock dwellings, and they line the walls of the peninsula. You walk along a path that circles the peninsula, where you can not only see, and enter, these dwellings, but see the dwellings in the surrounding canyon walls.

Sinagua dwelling on the cliff face. And you think you have a rough commute every day?

Sinagua dwelling on the cliff face (bottom right). And you think you have a rough commute every day?

The last couple of times that we’ve visited was during the monsoon season, and experienced a thunder storm. When the rain starts we find shelter in the old ruins, and listen to the rain drops falling on the pine forest, and thunder echoing in the canyon. It’s a magical experience.

Sinagua structures are all around the canyon walls, but they are all at the same level.

Sinagua structures are all around the canyon walls, but they are all at the same level.

Walnut Canyon (https://www.nps.gov/waca/index.htm) has been visited by various peoples for thousands of years. The Sinagua were the first permanent residents, and they lived in the area from about 600 A.D. to 1400 A.D.

Walking around the cliff dwellings, it’s fascinating to see tiny rooms, many of which are smaller than my bathroom, and realize that an entire family lived there. Looking out from these dwellings, and seeing cliff dwellings on the other side of the canyon, is a step back in time. I’m seeing the same thing the Sinagua saw when they lived in these dwellings 900 years ago.

Closeup of some structures.

Closeup of some structures.

One interesting thing about our visits here is that each time we hear Native American flute music for a few minutes. It’s like Carlos Nakai is hiding around some corner, playing his heart out. The sound of that flute floating around the canyon, and getting inside of your body, is very ethereal.

After walking through the office, and visiting the attached gift shop and museum, you walk down a flight of stairs and go outside to the overlook. There’s also an open elevator that mobility challenged people can use to access the overlook.

Inside one room, looking at other rooms.

Inside one room, looking at other rooms.

Now, the fun starts. You will walk down stairs, a lot of stairs, to get to the walkway that wraps around the stone peninsula, where you can see, and enter Sinagua cliff dwellings. As you take these stairs down, remember that when you’re done, you have to take them back up, all 185 feet (56 meters) worth. You can take breaks on landings, so don’t worry.

If stairs aren’t your thing, you can still have wonderful views from the overlook. You can also enjoy a paved, and mostly level, trail that starts near the door to the office, wanders along the cliff and overlooks the canyon and ruins. Picnic tables are located along the trail, so you can eat your lunch in the forest.

Structure on the far canyon wall, as seen from inside a structure on the peninsula.

Structure on the far canyon wall, as seen from inside a structure on the peninsula.

Walnut Canyon is where we go to travel back in time, and to find peace and quiet in a busy world. Grab a picnic lunch and head on over. You’re sure to enjoy the visit.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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July 14, 2016
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Comments Off on Lightning Storm

Lightning Storm

Last week a storm came through that was amazingly active. The lightning flashes were nonstop. It was like a strobe was going off, and it went on for hours. The only problem is that all of the lightning was inside the clouds. So they would light up, but I couldn’t see any lightning bolts.

As the storm moved off, the back edge went by, and I could finally see some bolts. Here are two shots I made as the storm drifted away.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Lightning with car headlights

 

Lightning0203

Lightning with car headlights.

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June 21, 2016
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Comments Off on Jeff’s Arizona Adventures – The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Jeff’s Arizona Adventures – The Arboretum at Flagstaff

The country is having a heat wave; it’s 103 degrees F (39 C) at my home, and I have out of state visitors arriving who don’t do well with heat. We had some outdoor activities planned when we first heard they were coming out, and it was cooler, but those all evaporated. Sorry, bad pun.

But wait, we could go to Flagstaff. It’s only an hour away, a few thousand feet higher in elevation, and just 85 degrees F (29 C). So off we went with our guests.

There’s a lot to see and do in Flagstaff, but we decided to go to the Arboretum www.thearb.org . Part of the fun of getting to the Arboretum is the dirt road. It’s well maintained, and a couple miles long. Look in your rear-view mirror, and you will see a huge dust cloud behind you. I felt like I was drive a super hero’s car, and had hit the smoke-screen button. It was great fun for me, not so much for the car behind me.

Butterfly - The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Monarch Butterfly

The Arboretum is a 200 acre site with plenty of shade, usually a nice breeze, and is very quiet and peaceful. Between the grounds and greenhouse, you can see over 2,500 species of mostly drought-tolerant plants found on the Colorado Plateau. There’s wildlife in the area too. We saw a mommy and baby bunny, squirrels, birds, fish and lizards. Sometimes you will see elk too.

Flower - The Arboretum at Flagstaff

We spent time in the museum and gift shop when we first arrived, and I managed to get a few birthday and Christmas gifts. I like to shop all year long for gifts, so I don’t go broke when birthdays and Christmas arrive. Especially since I have four friends whose birthdays are the week before Christmas.

Butterfly - The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Zebra Longwing

A big draw for us on this visit to the Arboretum was the new Butterfly House www.thearb.org/visit/tours-and-activities/ . It’s in a tent-like structure, and there were about a dozen butterflies inside. More butterflies will be added soon. It’s a small structure, but it easily holds 10 people, and they let me use my tripod. I created some really nice pictures of the butterflies and flowers, and even had a Monarch land on my arm.

Butterfly and Echinacea - The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) on Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)

If you’re looking for a place to get out of the heat, enjoy some peace, quiet and butterflies or commune with nature, then the Arboretum at Flagstaff is the place for you.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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June 13, 2016
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Jerome Home Tour 2016

Recently we attended the annual Jerome Historic Home Tour. We go to this event every year. It’s great to get a peek into the old houses and business’ in town.

It was a real treat this year when the first stop on the tour was the open pit mine, currently owned by Freeport-McMoRan. No one, and I mean no one, gets on the Freeport property except for their employees. Probably due to liability issues.

Jerome Home Tour

Jerome Home Tour

I took a lot of photographs through the viewing ports in the fence. Not ideal shooting conditions, but I was happy as could be just to get photographs of the mine. I could even see two mine shafts on the wall of the pit. These shafts ran through the ground before it was converted to open pit mining.

Jerome Home Tour

There are two old mine shafts, one toward the bottom and a little to the right, and one a little left of dead center.

 

Jerome Home Tour

The vault in the side of the mountain was where all the explosives were stored.

We also had a little excitement when an older woman fell down. She didn’t look hurt, just shaken up. But they took her to the hospital to be checked out anyway.

Jerome Home Tour

I feel these kinds of tours, which happen in several other cities around here, are very important. These old building won’t be here forever, and once they are gone, they will never return. Every year I see these old buildings get torn down or refurbished. I’m guessing that in ten years, all of the original old buildings will be gone.

Jerome Home Tour

Jerome Home Tour

While not on the tour, this hotel is scheduled to be refurbished, and when done, will look good as new. Another old beauty will be lost.

If you have a historic tour in your area, take advantage of it. You never know how long these old gems will be around.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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May 2, 2016
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Comments Off on The May Wallpaper Is Ready

The May Wallpaper Is Ready

Hi,

Get your copy of the May wallpaper for your computer. This month shows an old building in Jerome, Arizona. Even though there’s not much left of this ol’ gal, a glass blower runs his business out of the first floor. Get your copy here http://bit.ly/1Sdbz3d

Have Fun,
Jeff

Jerome, Arizona

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April 27, 2016
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Comments Off on Make Your Unusable Photographs Beautiful

Make Your Unusable Photographs Beautiful

If you’re like me, you take a lot of nature photographs, and you know that nature doesn’t always offer blue skies with fluffy white clouds. I’ve photographed in rain, snow, strong wind, lightning storms and fog, and always get usable photographs.

One of the ways I do this is with Lightroom 5, and presets. Lightroom can add contrast, bring out the details in skies filled with rain clouds, and much more. I know people who spend an hour or more perfecting photographs shot in less than ideal conditions, but that’s not me. I usually spend less than two minutes working on a photograph.

There are some images that I have that just really can’t be saved. They are too flat, and won’t look good no matter how much I play with sliders and curves. That’s where presets come in.

There are many presets to choose from, and many are free. You may remember the list of free presets that I had in a past article, “Make Scary Photographs For Halloween” http://www.thecreativescorner.com/make-scary-photographs-for-halloween/

Besides these, the NIK presets were recently released for free by Google https://www.google.com/nikcollection/. I grabbed these as soon as they came out. I believe they were originally selling for $250. Head on over and get your copy.

What I like most about presets is that someone else has done all the work, and I get to create great images with one click. Be sure to create a virtual copy first, and work on that. You don’t want to radically change your original image.

When dealing with flat images, my first thought is to make them into some kind of monochrome image. Black and white, sepia, split tone and similar presets usually work well. It’s just a matter of personal taste.

Here’s an example of a flat image I took last week at the Grand Canyon. The day was overcast, and you can see some snow in the middle of the image. Even though the light was flat, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to photograph this monolith.

The original image hasn’t been altered, except for straightening the horizon.

Grand Canyon

Original Image

I tried a variety of presets, and the first one I really liked was this mild sepia toned image, created with OnOne Toners – Light Mocha. It has a nice warm quality to it that counterbalances the cold of the sky and snow.

Grand Canyon

OnOne Toners – Light Mocha

The other one I liked was this Black and White, made with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 – 034 Yellowed 2. It gives good contrast and shows the snow well, and the frame makes the image look like an old Polaroid image.

Grand Canyon

Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 – 034 Yellowed 2

There were other presets that I liked, but these were my favorites.

Grab some of your old photographs that are flat, a little out of focus or have some other problem, and see what magic you can create with presets. You’ll find that it’s fun, and using presets may spark your imagination into creating a whole series of images.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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April 1, 2016
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Comments Off on April Wallpaper Is Ready

April Wallpaper Is Ready

Hi Everyone,

This old house in Jerome has been completely renovated. The new house looks great, but it doesn’t have any of the character of this old beauty.

Old buildings like this keep disappearing in two ways. Either they are in a ghost town, and nature reclaims them, or they are in a town with people, and they are torn down or renovated. Once buildings like this are gone, they are gone forever. I would imagine that in Jerome, almost all the old homes and buildings will be gone within ten years. Be sure to visit Jerome and similar places before these structures disappear into the pages of history.

Get your wallpaper here http://www.jeffcolburn.com/free-wallpaper

Have Fun,
Jeff

Wallpaper-2016-04

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February 28, 2016
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March Wallpaper Is Ready

Hi Everyone,

Pick up the March wallpaper for your computer. This month shows Adam Winrich and his Fire Whip at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.

Head on out to the Festival and see him in person.

Get your wallpaper here http://bit.ly/1I0OVC7

Have Fun,
Jeff

Wallpaper-2016-03

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February 24, 2016
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Comments Off on Film Photography, Give It A Shot

Film Photography, Give It A Shot

Are you thinking of giving film photography a try? There are a few things you should know before running out the door to expose your first roll of film.

Old-timers, like me, who started out with film, could pick up a film camera and start shooting with no problem. But what if you’ve never used a film camera before? It’s pretty easy, but you do need to know your photography. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • There’s no chimping. You need to have a complete command of exposure, composition and more to create a great shot, with no chimping or immediate viewing of an image.
  • You won’t know if your exposure and focus are correct until the film is processed.
  • The old cameras had a lot of metal, so they are heavy. But that made them more stable. I had no problem with mine hand-holding at 1/4 second, and getting razor sharp images. And, except for time exposures, I never used a tripod outside. I only used a tripod in the studio when doing tabletop projects.

If you’re ready to try your hand at film, you can pick up a used camera and lenses pretty cheaply. Pawn shops and camera stores often carry them, as well as online sellers. Personally, I would want to see the camera in person, and run a roll of film through it before purchase. That way, you can be sure everything works, and there are no light leaks.

The following cameras are pretty tough and last a long time. Canon (EOS-1v, Rebel Ti), Nikon (FM10, F6), Pentax (AF PZ-1P, MX and LX series) and Minolta (Maxxums). And the lenses you use on your digital camera will probably fit on these. That is, Nikon lens on a Nikon film camera, etc.

You also want to make sure you can still purchase the meter battery. Usually, all you need is a button battery to run the light meter and it will probably last for at least a year. If you get an old camera with no light meter, you can use a hand-held light meter. And if the camera’s meter battery dies, you can still use all the features of the camera, except for the meter. Mechanical cameras have their advantages.

When it comes to film, you have three choices, black and white print, color print and color slide.

  • C-41 color print film offers good exposure latitude, and great color and grain characteristics. Many drug and big box stores can develop this film, as well as professional labs.
  • Black and white print film can be easily processed at home with nothing more than a developing tank, film washer, chemicals and a coat hanger and clothes pin to hang it up to dry. If you want to get a little more professional, get a film chamois, negative squeegee and Kodak Photo-Flo. These items help you prevent or deal with water spots on negatives. I used to process all my black and white film in an upstairs bathroom, and printed in a spare bedroom where I converted the closet to hold my enlarger and chemical trays for prints.
  • E6 Color negative film can be processed at home if you want, or most places that work with C-41 can process this film.

Should you get professional or amateur film? Yes, there are two levels of film. The main difference is that pro film is sold closer to its expiration date. As film approaches its expiration date, it “cures” and when it’s “ripe,” or near its expiration date, offers the best color quality. Pro film usually has less contrast and better color rendition than non-pro film.

Another great thing about film is its permanence. File formats change; future software may not be able to read your current image files. And RAW file formats are different with every camera and camera software upgrade. But with film, I can print an image I took yesterday, or an image I took 50 years ago, using the same equipment and chemicals for both. Don’t let your images become part of the looming Digital Dark Ages. http://petapixel.com/2015/02/17/print-your-photos-or-risk-losing-them-to-the-digital-dark-age-internet-pioneer-warns/

Shooting film is like having Christmas presents all year long. The joy and excitement of opening a box of slides, placing them on a light table and seeing the colors jump out at you like a hand full of jewels is hard to beat. Or placing strips of color or black and white film on a light table and slowly examining them with a loupe. You’re never 100% sure what you have until you see the film/slides, and it’s pure pleasure. One of my favorite things to do is to watch a black and white print appear on the paper as I move it around in the developer tray. It’s magical, and brings a whole new dimension to photography that’s not possible with digital.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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