galestonerimages: Blog en-us (C) galestonerimages 2022 (galestonerimages) Tue, 07 Sep 2021 16:57:00 GMT Tue, 07 Sep 2021 16:57:00 GMT galestonerimages: Blog 80 120 Nik Is Back SILVER EFEX PRO 2 - I'M HAPPY AGAIN

If you are familiar with my website, you know my black & white gallery is not overflowing with images.  That's because I spend most of my time looking for vibrant, colorful landscapes.  For me, capturing a vibrant landscape requires several factors; great location, interesting subject, and good lighting.  But what do you do when you don't have the best lighting conditions?  For me, a black & white conversion can be a great option.

For years, I relied on Silver Efex Pro for my black & white images.  But when Nik was purchased by Google and the software became free, it was obvious the Nik collection could someday be unusable.  That time came for me about a year ago when I made a Mac system upgrade.  The Nik software got funky, unpredictable, and eventually unusable on my machine.

So when the word came out that Nik was being resurrected by ODx, I was thrilled.  Yes, I love the new b&w profiles in Lightroom, but I consider Silver Efex Pro to be my "go to" plug-in for b&w.

Last week, I bumped my head and had a "creative moment".  What if I experimented with the b&w profiles in Lightroom and combined them with my favorite presets in Silver Efex Pro.  After, looking at the image below, I think I have created a new workflow process for my b&w conversions.  This image was processed in Silver Efex Pro, brought back into Lightroom Classic CC, where I applied a b&w filter.  This is still not an image I would put on my wall, but it does hint at the potential.





]]> (galestonerimages) b&w fine art fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale gale stoner gale stoner images landscape trees water Fri, 03 Aug 2018 15:03:03 GMT

Part of my routine in preparing for a photo outing is to get online and look at images from that location.  This gives me an idea of what I can expect with regard to photo opportunities.  For years, I would study an image that had already been taken and I would position myself and compose my shot to duplicate the thousand similar shots.

The end result was coming home with a hard drive full of images that I had already seen, and more importantly, had been seen by a countless number of viewers.  A couple of years ago, I made a conscious decision to try to photograph popular, iconic locations, and put my own twist on things.  If I ever went to the Mesa Arch, which I don't think I ever will, I would avoid locking tripod legs with 30 other photographers, all trying to capture the starburst effect of the sun that creates that beautiful glow on the arch.

l much prefer if the viewer has to ask, "Is that the Mesa Arch?  I haven't seen it like that before.  That's different."  The viewer may not say they like my perspective better than the iconic shot, but that's okay.  The image reflects my point of view.

I guess my challenge would be to photograph a familiar subject with a different composition, a different shooting angle, a change in camera settings, maybe a different lens choice, all in an effort to make the image your own.





]]> (galestonerimages) Bill Fortney fine art flora flower fuji x-series fuji xt-2 Gale Gale Stoner gale stoner images green Laureate sunflower yellow Wed, 25 Jul 2018 21:16:54 GMT

Those who know my story know that I picked up my first SLR in 1966.  After shooting the third roll of film, I was hooked.  At the time, my photography was about capturing the moment; to have a permanent visual reminder of a place or a person.  I had just gotten married so most of my people pictures were of my new bride.  I recall how excited I was to go to the drug store and open the white envelope containing my pictures.  After quickly shuffling through the pictures, I would then going through them again to examine them more closely, trying to figure out why some snapshots worked and why other were not as pleasing.

I'm happy to report, the thrill is still there.  However, some things have changed.  One change is now I'm doing my self-critique while looking at the digital files on my computer.  Secondly, I have come to the conclusion that my motivation for taking pictures has changed over the years.  For the past six years, my photography has been about trying to capture images that are worthy of hanging on a wall.  Admittedly, some of the initial thrill I got from photography was being affected by the self-imposed pressure I was putting on myself to get the perfect, commercially successful, fine art print.

I have talked with other photographers who confess their motivation for photography has gone through changes.  For some, their primary motivation is to see how many "likes" they get for pictures they post to Facebook and Instagram.  Some admit they have allowed their definition of success to be based on the approval of others.  I remember hearing Bill Fortney, photographer, instructor, workshop leader, and friend, make a strong statement that hit me right between the eyes.  To paraphrase Bill, "You will have more fun taking pictures and your images will improve when you're not motivated by the opinions of others."

The Orchid on Green image is a favorite of mine.  For me, the softness, the selective focus, and the texture of the background creates in me an emotion of calm and peacefulness.  This image reflects how I felt at the time I was creating it, and that feeling returns every time I look at the image.  For me, it would be defeating to allow the number of Facebook and Instagram "Likes" to influence my opinion of this image.  Bottom line; my renewed motivation is about capturing images that reflect who I am, how I feel, and how I see things.

Don't get me wrong, I will always get tremendous satisfaction from the positive response of others regarding my photography.  It's like icing on the cake, and I like cake.





]]> (galestonerimages) Bill Fortney fine art flora flower fuji x-series fuji xt-2 Gale Gale Stoner gale stoner images green Laureate orchid Wed, 18 Jul 2018 16:58:16 GMT

I have been on a guilt trip for the past six months.  I have been feeling overwhelmingly guilty that I haven't taken the time to post to my blog.  The weight of that guilt kept getting heavier and heavier with each passing week.  Like I said in the heading, "I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT", but actually I think I can.

My dear friend, business coach and mentor, Mark LeBlanc, describes the three traps that business owners tend to fall into.  One of those traps is the value trap.  We self-diagnosis and come to the conclusion that what we do is of little or no value to anyone else.  We can begin to question ourselves as to, "why bother, does it matter to anyone else?"  In reality, it doesn't have to matter to anyone else.  Is what we do, the photographs we take, the images we create, does it matter to me.  Do I still love photography?  Yes!  Do I still enjoy sharing my images and sharing the experience behind them?  Yes!

Based on those two yeses, I'm back.  I plan to post at least once a week; sometimes more, and occasionally, sometimes less.

P.S.  If you're reading this, thanks for patiently waiting.






]]> (galestonerimages) fuji x-series fuji xt-2 Gale Gale Stoner gale stoner images lake landscape michigan upper peninsula water Wed, 11 Jul 2018 13:52:48 GMT

If you're into landscape photography you know that it can be frustrating to arrive at a great location, with a great subject, and then be faced with poor weather conditions.  I prefer a partly cloudy day with big, fluffy clouds scattered about.  That allows me several lighting options.  I can shoot the scene, highlighting the blue sky and clouds, or I can wait for the sun to go behind a cloud and shoot in diffused light.

A total gray sky with no texture can produce a very boring image.  That's when plugins can come to the rescue.  I applied a texture layer to this image to create some interest and add some depth to the sky.  Then I pushed the blue saturation slider a little to create contrast with the red roof of the lighthouse.





]]> (galestonerimages) eagle harbor lighthouse fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images lake landscape michigan upper peninsula water Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:51:22 GMT

The long-range forecast had predicted overcast skies.  If you've been following me for awhile, you know I prefer cloudy days, as do a lot of photographers.  Obviously, the forecast was wrong.  Bright sunny day with patches of fluffy clouds.  And with the location about 3 1/2 hours away, there was nothing to do but try to make the best of it.  The forecast also indicated that the Japanese maples would be dressed in their brilliant red.  That too, was not the case.

I'm beginning to realize I get motivated with facing a challenge, particularly with photography.  So my idea of meeting the challenge was to rely on post-processing.  I know, ideally you want to capture the shot in the camera, but I don't live in a perfect world and software and plugins are there for a reason.

A push of the vibrancy slider, a tweaking of the saturation and luminance sliders and a little texturing rescued the day. 





]]> (galestonerimages) fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images georgia gibbs garden japanese garden japanese maples landscape pond water Wed, 08 Nov 2017 17:39:30 GMT

This image has special meaning to me.  This bridge is located in Duluth, MN.  This is where my wife and I spent the first three years of our marriage  So when we had a chance to return to Duluth, I already new the aerial bridge was a must stop.

Earlier in the day, we scouted out the locations to shoot from that would provide the best night view.  Once there, I started setting up for the shot.  At 33 degrees, I wasn't eager to spend a lot of time getting my gear ready.  My wife was hoping I would just hit the shutter button and head for the warmth of the car.

The tripod was setup, the camera settings were dialed in, it was time to get the picture.  Then the moment of decision came.  How do I compose?  Do I lower the horizon line to reveal a lot of the sky with the hint of magenta in the clouds?  Do I raise the horizon line to reveal more water?  So what was going to make the image?  I decided it was the reflection of the colored lights in the water.

Obviously, this is a personal choice.  A choice every photographer makes when preparing to hit the shutter button.  There is no wrong answer here regarding the horizon.  I simply chose to emphasize the reflection.  My wife was quick to agree with my choice because it was 33 degrees.





]]> (galestonerimages) aerial bridge bridge duluth fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images lake superior landscape minnesota water Wed, 01 Nov 2017 22:08:44 GMT

Was scheduled to visit a small botanical garden in South Carolina.  On the day of the photo outing, the lighting was not ideal and it didn't help that it was the time of year when there wasn't much in bloom.  It was one of those gray, flat days that are best to stay inside and post-process some old images.

But since this was the only time I would be at this location I didn't have many options.  As I was heading back to the car, I had to walk around a small pond.  On the bank was a cluster of river birch trees.  Fortunately, I remembered a technique I learned from Tony Sweet, get a slow shutter speed and move the camera parallel to the straight lines in the viewfinder.  It took about 10 attempts using different shutter speeds, aperture and arm motion and this is the result.

Believe me when I say this would be a very boring image if you could see the scene in detail.  This would have been "lemons".  However, the creative technique gave me lemonade.





]]> (galestonerimages) abstract carolina fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images south trees Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:50:25 GMT

It's been awhile since I posted to the blog.  I can fall into the trap of needing to find the perfect image.  It needs to be the the perfect subject in perfect light.  It needs the perfect composition with the perfect post-processing.  The perfection trap can be a major barrier to my creativity and photographic energy.

On a recent day trip to Chattanooga I was struggling to find perfection.  Four hours into the trip and I hadn't even taken the camera out of the bag.  I finally gave up and decided to start photographing what I hadn't been seeing.  This image is one of them.  It was only after I saw the image on the computer screen that I reminded myself that an interesting picture doesn't have to be perfect.

The composition rule of leading lines plays a strong role in this image.  And the black and white version provides some character.

Looking for advice?  Don't let the trap of perfection get in the way.  Allow your photographic vision to be less than perfect.

Chattanooga Choo Choo



]]> (galestonerimages) chattanooga fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images hotel train Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:43:02 GMT

On a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, the mission was to photograph water.  I know there is a variety of opinions regarding water images.  Several photographers that I admire, suggest there should be some texture in the water flow, and they avoid a shutter speed slower than 1 second.  Of course, the shutter speed is determined by how fast the water is flowing and how much texture you want in the image.  I usually follow the advise of the experts since they are the experts.  Generally, the sweet spot for me is 2 seconds.

However, as with many things in life, how you photograph water is purely subjective.  I already had envisioned this ghostly look before leaving the hotel room that morning and I was confident I would get the look I was going for because I had a variable ND filter in the bag.  Once I set up the composition, all I had to do was experiment with the dial until I got the look I was hoping for.  It's a good day when a plan comes together. 


]]> (galestonerimages) cascades fuji summit fuji x-series fuji xt-2 gale stoner images river smokies townsend tn tremont tn water Tue, 02 May 2017 13:16:40 GMT

I can't count how many times I've passed by this location, always commenting, "Someday I need to stop and take a picture."  This time, I made this location the destination.  So I began to shoot and shoot and shoot.  So many angles and compositions all in an attempt to find a unique image of two gas pumps and a Texaco sign.

I finally settled on this image but I was disappointed in the result.  I almost hit the delete button on the keyboard but thought I would give the shot one more attempt to make something of it.  OnOne Effects software gave life to the image.  Sometimes you just have to keep chipping away until something shows up.


]]> (galestonerimages) digital art fuji x-series gale stoner images onone software service station texaco wartrace tn Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:17:03 GMT

I had posted the first version of this image in 2015.  The popular photographic location known as Oxbow Bend.  The first time I posted this image I used a 3-image HDR process.  I had already gotten over the power of HDR and I went for the "natural" look.  But this week, I looked back at some of my images from less than two years ago and wondered, "What was I thinking!"

So I went back into the archives and worked on the normal exposure shot from that bracketed series.  I then worked the image in Lightroom CC and finished it in OnOne Effects.  What I think I produced was a much better overall look.  It's closer to what I saw the day I shot this.  Thank goodness for digital and the ability to have a "do over".

Oxbow BendOxbow Bend


]]> (galestonerimages) Fuji Gale Stoner Images Landscape Mountains Oxbow Bend Tetons Wyoming Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:42:27 GMT

The plan was to take advantage of the forecast of partly cloudy skies and small chance of rain.  Should be great for some landscape shots of a series of waterfalls about 90 minutes from home.  Well, by the time I got to the shooting location, the clouds parted and the sun took over.  Water was flowing great but it was already 11:00am.  I know I could have put on a neutral density filter to get the silky water but the water would have been blown out in the direct sun.

So, I gave up on the landscape search and went for something smaller.  Little details, textures, shapes, and sizes abounded on this little town square.  The color of blue caught my eye as I was walking past this door.  And the rectangle of the padlock with the circular shape of the door lock forced me to stop and extend the tripod legs.  A little processing in Color Efex Pro gave me something to bring home.


Double LockDouble Lock

]]> (galestonerimages) abstract Digital Art Gale Stoner Images Locks Tennessee Watertown Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:05:21 GMT

If you follow my blog entries, you may remember this image in black and white.  I wanted to get a little creative with the natural light that I experienced when I was setting up for this shot.  I wanted to give the image an artist look by adding texture and modifying the color balance.  I don't know if I like this version or the black and white version better.  Maybe you can let me know.


]]> (galestonerimages) Botany Bay Gale Stoner Images Landscape South Carolina Tree On The Beach abstract Wed, 04 Jan 2017 15:26:43 GMT

I honestly don't know why this scene caught my attention.  Maybe it's the contrast between the blue umbrellas and the white table and chairs.  Maybe it was the simplicity of the subject, two umbrella tables in an open field.  Maybe it was the touch of light from the setting sun.

Maybe it was all of those.  I'll let you decide.


]]> (galestonerimages) Another Time Gale Stoner Images Metal Table and Chairs Umbrellas abstract Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:49:12 GMT

Another veterans cemetery in Nashville, TN.  I don't know why I don't do a lot of black and white images.  When I convert to black and white I'm reminded of the emotion that it creates that color can't do.

Nothing vibrant, exciting or majestic about this image.  In fact, it was a morning with heavy mist and an occasional downpour.  The subject and the lighting conditions demanded black and white.  I shot this knowing I would convert to black and white.  It was the right subject.


]]> (galestonerimages) Black and White Cemetery, Gale, Gale Stoner Images Graveyard Headstones Images Stoner Tree Veterans Sat, 08 Oct 2016 13:35:31 GMT

On a recent vacation to Branson, MO, we discovered a nature area call Dogwood Canyon.  What a beautiful location.  This fantastic river runs through the canyon with numerous cascades and waterfalls.  The river is full of trout; more fish than in a hatchery.  All of this provided to the public by the founder of Bass Pro Shops, John Morris.  According to our guide, this structure was only recently built early this year.  The stonework is absolutely amazing, spanning the crystal clear river.  Just needed the water wheel moving.

Dogwood Canyon MillDogwood Canyon Mill


]]> (galestonerimages) Branson MO Dogwood Canyon, Gale, Gale Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Stoner Stoner" Wed, 14 Sep 2016 14:46:15 GMT

When I have my camera bag on my back, I'm usually looking for that perfect landscape shot.  Maybe I'll have the opportunity to discover a dramatic sunset or a magnificent waterfall, and with camera in hand, I can try to capture the moment.  Walking around the Top Of The Rock area outside Branson, Mo, I was looking for the big landscape shot.  As I walked over the hill to get a better view of the lake in the distance, I came upon this little scene.  Forget the lake, forget the sunset, get the image of the old Airstream that serves Frosty's.


]]> (galestonerimages) Branson MO Cedar Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Lodge Stoner Top Of The Rock Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:22:04 GMT

If given a choice, I think I like sunsets better than sunrises.  The obvious reason, I don't have to get up as early to catch that first glimpse of good light.  After all, I'm already up and available for the sunset.

Our photo workshop was blessed with a beautiful sunset just outside Charleston, S.C.  Eight of us were lined up along the bank selecting the right lens, the right aperture and the right ISO.  And we all had the goal of capturing the scene that best represented our photographic vision.  My vision?  The horizontal lines and layers created by the ribbons of color.  How do you look at a sunset like this and not believe God is the ultimate artist!

In contrast, were the lines formed by the structure of the bridge.  Man-made but dramatic in its own way.


Bridge To CharlestonBridge To Charleston

]]> (galestonerimages) Bridge Charleston Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Ravenel Bridge South Carolina Stoner Water Thu, 02 Jun 2016 12:19:15 GMT

I don't process a lot of black and white.  I'm not sure why black and white is not on my radar but sometimes the subject just says, "Hey, go for the contrast."  It was a beautiful sunrise at Edisto Beach in South Carolina but the original image just didn't pop; colors were too soft, pastel and flat.  Silver Efex Pro came to the rescue and help create something of interest; something out of a Tim Burton movie.  I need to go back into the archives and see what images I have previously abandoned that might be rescued in black and white.


Standing AloneStanding Alone

]]> (galestonerimages) Botany Bay Charleston Edisto Beach Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape South Carolina Stoner Tue, 17 May 2016 13:32:02 GMT

Another beautiful location tucked away from the more traveled areas of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, SC.  I had the sense the magnificent oak was commanding the observer to slow down, take a moment to quietly enjoy and appreciate the beauty.  I'm glad the oak tree spoke to me and that I listened.


]]> (galestonerimages) Charleston Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape South Carolina Stoner Tue, 10 May 2016 13:17:46 GMT

When I visited this iconic location near Charleston, SC, I was in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the oak trees.  I took a few minutes just to appreciate what I was experiencing before I mounted the camera on the tripod.  Since this location is private property, I could only shoot just off the shoulder of the road.  If this were mine, I think every time I turned onto my driveway I would feel comfort and serenity as the trees stretched out their branches to embrace my return.

]]> (galestonerimages) Charleston Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape South Carolina Stoner Wed, 04 May 2016 14:53:48 GMT

I had an opportunity to attend a Tony Sweet workshop in Charleston, SC.  One of the shooting locations was Magnolia Plantation and Garden.  We arrived at the Gardens before daylight and spent the entire morning walking the grounds and discovering beautiful locations such as this image displays.  Around every corner, every turn in the pathway, and on the other side of every bridge, there was a magnificent, colorful scene.

If you've visited previous blog posts, you know I'm drawn to reflections on the water's edge.  And when I saw the contrast of the white bridge with the purple and white azaleas, it was a "must shot".  I'll be posting a few more images from this garden.  Make sure to check out Tony Sweet's workshop schedule.


]]> (galestonerimages) Charleston Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Magnolia Plantation South Carolina Stoner Mon, 25 Apr 2016 11:14:03 GMT

This time of the year, it's hard for me not to be influenced by the color of spring.  The previous post was shot in Charleston, S.C., eight hours from home.  This image was captured in Cheekwood Garden in Nashville, TN, one hour from home.  Obviously, you don't have to travel far to find signs of spring.  This image was heavily processed.  Cropped out a lot of distractions in front of the tulip bed, added a soft glow filter, and added the water reflection.  Some would call this manipulation and qualifies as photography malpractice.  I take the view that it is creating something with visual impact.


]]> (galestonerimages) Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Nashville Stoner Tennessee Tue, 05 Apr 2016 15:13:36 GMT

I took this photo while standing in a heavy mist at the end of a dead end road.  Actually, I was standing in the mist, at the end of the road, while waiting on my photography partner who had ventured off to shoot a waterfall.  Everyone else in the group, about 30 people, had already left for another location.  The image might send a message of quiet, isolated, lonely, forgotten, cold, damp, etc.  And yes, that's how I was feeling at the time.  It was only after I saw the image on the computer did I realize how the light rain had saturated the colors, and how much color there was.


]]> (galestonerimages) Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Smoky Mountains Stoner Tennessee Tremont Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:28:31 GMT

This is inside one of the cabins at Cades Cove, in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  An empty room except for this old wood stove.  Fireplace, wood stove and a window are the only elements in this image.  Three-shot bracketing and HDR post-processing helped overcome the extreme dark areas of the room and the bright, natural light coming through the window.  If you've been following my blog recently you are aware that I am a big fan of Topaz Impression software.  This composition seemed to be the perfect scene for the software application.


]]> (galestonerimages) Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Smoky Mountains Stoner Tennessee Topaz Impression Tue, 02 Feb 2016 14:20:01 GMT
Houseboat Street OLD IMAGE - NEW LOOK

I always wanted to be an artist.  I could see myself sitting in front of a blank canvas and start creating a new vision with paint and brush.  However, I wasn't born with that talent and the canvas remains blank.  Until, I picked up a camera and started creating a vision digitally.  I discovered Topaz Impression software.  This image is an example of bringing new life to an old, lifeless photo that was shot about five years ago.  I now have a project of going through old files and looking for images that I can resurrect.

Here's a tip:  This is a great application to use when you discover that the image is not tack sharp and slightly out of focus.  It also allows you to pump up the saturation level to get more pop in the colors. 


]]> (galestonerimages) Gale Gale Stoner Gale Stoner Images Images Landscape Stoner Topaz Impression Victoria BC Wed, 20 Jan 2016 13:45:51 GMT