Robert Adler Photography: Blog en-us (C) Robert Adler Photography [email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Robert Adler Photography: Blog 82 120 A New View Life moves on and change never stops. Our new view in Sacramento, 6 or 7 blocks from our grandsons. We are so fortunate... New ViewNew ViewView from our new place in Sacramento.

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Tue, 17 May 2016 22:26:29 GMT
Yosemite Visit In addition to the Tahoe workshop below I was fortunate enough to meet up with some photographers in Yosemite NP. One of the photographers was the renowned Ted Grant from Vancouver, BC. Ted's been a photojournalist his entire professional life, which I think goes from his embryonic stage to his current 84 years young! You can see some of his fantastic work and read about him here:

Ted meets another icon, Half Dome:

Ted Grant With Half DomeTed Grant With Half Dome

There's very little water in Yosemite (though not completely dry from recent rains). Bright sun makes sweeping landscapes difficult (impossible?) so concentrating on small details works and is still very fulfilling. The dogwoods graced us with their blooms and I tried to capture their delicate beauty against the backdrop of the somewhat flowing Merced River:

Mountain Reflections With Dogwood BlossomsMountain Reflections With Dogwood BlossomsYosemite NP, CA

Dogwood DanceDogwood Dance


There were some remaining puddles around that provided some unique ways to photograph the grandeur of this park:

Reflections in Yosemite

No finer place to sit, relax, and read than in one of the Ahwanee Hotel's reading rooms. The outside view isn't too shabby either:

Ahwanee Hotel Reading RoomAhwanee Hotel Reading Room

I've always loved this view: just wasn't willing to wake up early enough to catch it in some good light:

Redwood PathRedwood Path Hopefully there will be some snow this winter to keep Yosemite vibrant. Also for some great photo opportunities. 


[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:15:01 GMT
Around Lake Tahoe Just returned from a terrific workshop put on by Capture Integration (CI) at Lake Tahoe. Three full days of sunrises, sunsets, presentations (requiring immense self control to not buy the latest and greatest!) and way too much food. Really enjoyed the company of fellow image makers as well as the training of really terrific folks from CI. Even got a few good images:

First stop, Bonsai Rock. Only 500 feet or so from the car... straight down. Quite a beautiful place, though we had no clouds this day:

Bonsai Rock, Lake TahoeBonsai Rock, Lake Tahoe

Also visited Sand Harbor for which we had some clouds for the incredible boulders that came to rest in the lake's waters:

Sand Habor II, Lake TahoeSand Habor II, Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor I, Lake TahoeSand Harbor I, Lake Tahoe

Finally an image from the marshes of Tallack Creek. Great easy hike with some beautiful marsh life and views of the Sierras.

Tallack Creek Sunrise, Lake TahoeTallack Creek Sunrise, Lake Tahoe Definitely need to return at other times of the year to catch some winter snow or autumn colors!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Tue, 21 Apr 2015 23:15:48 GMT
Being Lost In Moments I think most landscape photographers as well as artists of all types understand what it's like to be lost in your photography/art. Just you, your surroundings and your imagination lost in and focused on how to show a moment so others see and feel what you do. It can be magical sometimes and incredibly frustrating at others.

Last week I had a few days for only photography along California's Big Sur coast. Over the past 15-20 years I've had many day trips, but never the gift of being there for several days and only for photography (three cheers for retirement!!). Rains had come through Northern California a couple of weeks prior and there was a marine layer along the coast that, for the entire day, turned the day's sky into an enormous soft light box. A really perfect set of circumstances that made photographing in the beautiful redwood forests of the area ideal. The waters were flowing, the wind was almost nonexistent and the light was soft. Just doesn't get better and seldom happens...

The first venue I went to was Limekiln State Park, and I stayed there almost entirely. In 2008 fires raged through this park and essentially closed it for a couple of years. Slowly, through nature and the hard work of State Park personnel, Limekiln is now even more of a jewel than ever.  So I thought some of the photos accomplished the goals of the first paragraph. I hope you can feel the beauty and become lost inside the images... 

Always drawn to views that can be taken in by just sitting on a well placed bench. This one survived the 2008 fire:

Bench View, Limekiln State ParkBench View, Limekiln State Park


The waterfall through the gorgeous redwood forest. Irresistible...

Redwood Forest Waterfall, Limekiln State ParkRedwood Forest Waterfall, Limekiln State Park


I went down to Julia Pfiefer State Beach to watch the sun set through the hole in the rocks, but there was no sun to see! This grove was simply glowing on the way out...


Sycamores, Julia Pfiefer State BeachSycamores, Julia Pfiefer State Beach

On the way home the next day, I stopped in at Limekiln for one last walk. This scene struck me as a bit symbolic of what the few days there were about (rejuvenating after burn out!)...

Fire ScarFire Scar

Hope you enjoyed! If so, please sign in and leave a comment: always appreciated...

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Sat, 28 Feb 2015 05:06:13 GMT
Lee Vining - A quick trip Made a quick 3 day trip to Lee Vining last week. We (my wife and youngest) were going to stay in Yosemite at Crane Flats campground, but I changed our minds when I heard the colors were coming out on the aspen and cottonwood trees in the eastern Sierra's. Kind of lucky we did as the Dog Rock fire in Yosemite started a couple of days before we left...

We went over Monitor Pass (a first for me and absolutely stunning), but no images from that passage as I was towing the trailer and too white knuckled to think of it; afraid if I stopped I might not get going again!

But the Conway Summit coming down into Lee Vining was in full glory:

Conway Summit Light and Shadow

From a technical perspective, I think this image brings out one of the biggest changes digital has brought to photography. The ability of digital sensors to record more than twice the range of light over film (almost 3 times compared to positive/slide film) allows photographers to make images in bright conditions that were not considered possible with film. Many folks say the best time to photograph is during the "golden light" hours: an hour before/during sunrise and an hour during/after sunset. Though this may hold true still, there are a lot more opportunities for landscape photographers to capture good/great images. Digital sensors have really made this possible; great to not be so restricted.

June Lake loop was almost at peak. These images were taken after sunset and we really got to see the Alpine glow of the aspens:

  Path of Colors  

One of the things I like most about this image is it's softness. I'm a real sucker for sharp sharp images, but sometimes well placed out of focus areas can make an image very special. Wish I could claim this was done purposely on the above image, but it just happened because I was shooting handheld (my cameras don't have image stabilization). Old saying, "I'd rather be lucky than good" still holds true...

Picnic with Fall Colors

And great old western towns in the area. We only spent an hour or so in Bridgeport but hope to hit Bodie, Bishop and Lone Pine some day. The Courthouse in Bridgeport is a great old building:

Bridgeport Courthouse

And to top it all off, we really enjoyed the company of our youngest. Just like her Papa, she needs a kickstart in the morning. This is my favorite image of the whole trip!:

Morning CoffeeMorning CoffeeMy favorite colors of our fall outing!! So nice to have my youngest along.


My guess is that the area from Bishop to Lee Vining is crawling with photographers right now. But we only had a couple of days, and I felt really fortunate to be with my family in such a beautiful, quiet area. Hopefully next year we will stay longer!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Eastern Sierra Fall color Lee Vining Sun, 12 Oct 2014 20:00:50 GMT
Why I Have 8TB of Image Files Because:

  1. You just never know when some image that didn't look good enough at the time now looks great...
  2. Software improves over time and becomes better at extracting the information in a file. Suddenly you have "new" data to work with...
  3. You (hopefully) learn how to use software better and learn new techniques that allow you to make the image you imagined when you took it...
  4. You are hopelessly anal retentive...

So I rarely delete a file: even those that are under or over exposed, not what I think I wanted, somewhat out of focus (that now looks good out of focus). It's also why I shoot raw files: raw processing programs are getting significantly better at recovering both highlights and shadows you once thought were not there. They are now.

So case in point is this image taken back in 2011 with my second digital back and my Hasselblad Flexbody camera (sadly now gone/sold). My old habit of keeping every file (not only accessible, but safely backed up in a separate location: yes, that's over 16TB of data...) is only reinforced.

Lighthouse Flight

Phase One P45+ with Hasselblad Flexbody reprocessed in CaptureOne Pro 8 and Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 and luminosity masking layers.Light House FlightPigeon Point Lighthouse, San Mateo, CA

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Fri, 03 Oct 2014 03:34:21 GMT
Goodbye Friend Latte FiniLatte Fini Today a neighborhood institution closed its doors. Since moving to Redwood City, Main Street Coffee Roasting Company has been my hangout. Mona has always made me welcome, Robin has always forgotten to put my quarter in the tip jar, and Bob has become a trusted and valued friend. Sandra has always given me a hard time, with humor and Tom has always been quick to say hello and pause and chat. All who work (and really lived there) have made a comfortable place to relax, eat delicious home made food and drink Bob's incredible coffee.

I went there early this morning to wish them well. The neighborhood has lost a gem, but we have all gained friends and memories that will not fade. 

Thank you all who made Main Street what it was.

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Coffee coffee food shop Sun, 28 Sep 2014 01:53:50 GMT
Night Photography Methodololgy Though I haven't tried it, the following link is an article on the experiences of and the final methodology developed by Paul Caldwell, a respected landscape photographer, on one way to do night photography:

If I ever get a digital camera that can take an exposure at more than 60 seconds, I will definitely use this as a starting point. If you'd like to make contributions so I can get such a camera, feel free to contact me!!

Good luck!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) night photography Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:36:30 GMT
A New (to me) Photo Development Tool (Warning: techie stuff) I recently discovered a new tool for use with Adobe's Photoshop that is amazingly powerful for my landscape photography; Luminosity Masks. Tony Kuyper ( ) has developed this tool and associated tutorials; the control provided, once mastered, is truly revolutionary. (I have no financial relationship or other interest in Tony's work). Best $80 I've spent in a long while!

The first image I played with was the Oceano Dunes image in a recent blog post below. Here is the original image posted:

Oceano Dunes - Development Version 1This is the originally developed image: usually I post these fairly quickly after capturing them.

I received lots of comments and valuable critiques from friends and other photographers. One of the primary critiques was that more contrast was needed: the image was too "soft". Others liked it with the lower contrast. To see for myself, I continued working on processing with the tools I've used for many years: Photoshop adjustment layers primarily using curves, levels and brightness/contrast (as it is a black and white image), painted into various areas on the image. I ended up liking the image with increased contrast, and printed it for critique at the local Palo Alto Camera Club. Here is the file that the print was made from:


Oceano Dunes - Additional processing done for printing.No luminosity masks used: normal Photoshop techniques.


Though the print got positive comments, the primary criticism was that there was no "story." Now a story needs a subject, so in this image I believe what was being said was that the viewer's eye was not directed anywhere. There was no path to follow, nothing to keep the viewer's eyes from wandering off frame, no place where the eye kept going back to. 

I was working with Tony Kuyper's luminosity masking techniques and thought I would try them on the image. The initial tools I used, curve, level, and brightness saturation masks had been taken as far as they could go without beginning to blow out the highlights or darken the shadows when trying to adjust the brightness and/or darkness of the middle tones. Pinning down the curves produced muddiness in the highlights or loss of detail in the shadows. The subtle impact of using luminosity masks allowed me to address the tonalities in between the darkest and lightest areas in a highly selective way without loosing contrast or detail. Below is the image after using these new tools:

Oceano Dunes - Processed further with luminosity masks.

It may be difficult to see these differences by scrolling up and down this page, so here they are side-by-side. I would advise you click on each image which will open up a new tab in your browser. Then click back on the tab for this page and open up new tabs for the other two photos in the same way. Then you can click between tabs to quickly see the differences.

Oceano Dunes - Original Blog Post

Oceano Dunes - After contrast changes. This image was printed and critiqued at the Palo Alto Camera Club. Oceano Dunes - Additional processing done with luminosity masks.








I'm really impressed with these new tools. I've just begun to use them. They have far greater capabilities than I've used here, but mastery of them is still a long way away. Good thing I love learning curves! Try them yourself: Tony has posted free tutorials online that you can dig into. I took the easy way (after trying to work through a couple of tutorials) and bought the package with the video tutorials by Sean Bagshaw and the panels for Photoshop that automate creation of many of the masks and other advanced techniques.

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) California Oceano Oceano Dunes Tony Kuyper coast" image processing luminosity mask sand dunes Sat, 23 Aug 2014 04:14:57 GMT
A Day With A Friend It's always a treat to spend the day with a friend who is as much a photography nut as I am AND knows the area from years of experience. Almost every time I come to LA to visit my grandson and family, I am hopeful to spend a day out shooting with Frank, who's lived in LA for more years than he would want me to disclose! This time we went to the Mission Capistrano. It was what I call an ugly bright day, but there were a few places to play with in the shadows:

Pretty much a requisite image if you visit a California mission (so I had to shoot it). The hardest part is waiting to have no people in the frame:

Another shaded area gave a nice reflection in window with a beautifully colored wall:

After lunch we walked around the old town of Capistrano playing with images and just walking off lunch. This was playing around at f/1 (very narrow depth of field). Can't resist bench views...

Last shot before heading home. What do you see? Sometimes you just get silly tired :-)

A great day with Frank!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Bench Mission Mission San Juan Capistrano San Juan Capistrano Sun, 03 Aug 2014 00:38:29 GMT
The Surprise of Oceano Dunes I didn't know they were there. I didn't know Adams had taken an image at the same area. I didn't know what I would find.

Oceano is a small, weather beaten beach town near the tracks south of the more wealthy and well known areas of San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. There is a State Park where you can drive your vehicle onto the beach and spend the night if you want. I had no idea what I would find, but I saw RV after RV after RV going down to the area as well as ATVs, tricked out trucks, etc. Pretty much Exxon's dream land; a mixture of Mad Max and Burning Man. The RVs and their associated gas powered vehicles stretched down the beach for at least 3, more likely 5 miles. It was chaos.

I parked my car and walked east toward the fence that was the boundary for ATVs to play in. Went through a hole in the fence and trekked for about an hour heading east. The chaos faded away and it was eerily quiet with no vegetation; only sand dunes. Deep sand, 25lbs of gear, and no idea where I was going or what I would find. So I just went for the highest sand dune to see the view. It was breath taking; another world. As crazy and chaotic as the beach scene was, this was as quiet and barren and other worldly as I have ever seen. I hope you can get some of that from the image:

Techie Stuff:
Alpa MAX, 50mm Alpa-Rodenstock f/4 SB34, Phase One IQ160 @ 50 ISO
Exposure: f/16@ 1/125 with polarizing filter.Oceano DunesSometimes you're just lucky...

Techie Stuff:
Alpa MAX, 50mm Alpa-Rodenstock f/4 SB34, Phase One IQ160 @ 50 ISO
Exposure: f/16@ 1/125 with polarizing filter.
[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Oceano Robert Adler Photography dunes Sun, 13 Jul 2014 05:14:56 GMT
In The Summertime In the Summer Time

When the weather is high

You can stretch right up and touch the sky...

You got music, you got coffee on your mind 

Have a drink, have a drive

Go out and see what you can find...

Can't think of a nicer way to spend Sumer Solstice than fine music, fine food and fine coffee. Herb Moore and his buddies put on a fantastic show of bluegrass this morning at the Main Street Coffee Roasting Co., right next door here in Redwood City. A few photos of a terrific morning follow. Wish you could hear the music...


[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Herb Moore Redwood City Robert Adler Photography Stolstice bluegrass coffee house Sun, 22 Jun 2014 05:47:44 GMT
Day Trip to Costanoa Before we hit the light on Gazos Creek we went to visit the Lodge at Costanoa, just south of Pescadero off Highway 1. We were just exploring to see what kind of RV park was there. It's very nice with lots of facilities including a lodge, lodge cabins, tent cabins, RV parking with hookups and a couple of tent only camp sights. From the lodge you can walk along this path to the beach (though you have to cross the highway). 

We weren't quite sure how you cross the highway as we didn't go down the path or see anyone crossing when we came in or left. 

There were also fire pits and some fire chimneys available that looked pretty enticing knowing how cold and foggy it can get along the coast:

So final consensus was it is an area that, on weekdays and non-holidays, would be very quiet and removed. No cell coverage and nothing but the coast around. Pretty enticing for a near home escape. Definitely going to give it a try.

On the way home, again before we hit Gazos Creek for the photo in my prior post, we went for a walk (well I did, Jane was listening to the Giants loose in the final innings...) around the Pelican Point Lighthouse. Lots of tourists and very busy, but a really unique place to go. Looking over the rails down to the shore, this fellow was working hard and, rightly so, keeping a close eye on the surf.

In an area known for sneaker waves, I don't think I would have been fishing where he was. Watched for a few moments, but never saw him catch anything.

Leaving the lighthouse (and being somewhat drawn to bench view images) I found these two taking in the atmosphere. The flowers combined with bench viewers seemed to work for me.

Back to the car and, lucky to have taken the time to walk around the lighthouse, stumbled across the Gazos Creek scene shortly after while continuing home.

All in all it was nice to get some passable images in about a 5 hour time period after not being out photographing in a very long time. Priorities slowly changing!!

Note: If you want to see larger versions of any of these images, take a look at the slideshow of the Featured Photos.

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Wed, 18 Jun 2014 04:28:48 GMT
When You See The Light Growing up my grandfather had a painting by Euge'ne Boudin on the wall that I could never get enough of (an example of Boudin's work is here: ). The scene below drew such a resemblance to me that I couldn't resist. I am fortunate that my generous aunt has given me that painting that I continue to enjoy immeasurably.


Gazos Creek Light  On Sunday we went to the San Mateo County coast to take a look at Costanoa Lodge, a lodge, campground and RV park south of Pescadero. The fog was all encompassing most of the day, but in the late afternoon it began to break up. We were headed home, north, when the light in the foothills east of the highway began to come through. Just before crossing the Gazos Creek bridge this view popped up. We turned around in the Gazos Beach parking lot and headed back to find a wide spot to pull over. I walked back back along the road and, fortunately the scene just kept getting better. I really like the impressionistic quality of this magically lit scene. If you want to know how this image was made, read on. Otherwise, I hope you look at it for a bit to enjoy the subtlety of a beautiful moment.

Other photos from the day's trip will hopefully make it into the next post.

Techie Stuff

The image is a stitch of 5 exposures taken on a tripod with a panoramic head. The camera used was a Leica M(240) with the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH and a polarizing filter. The camera was turned in portrait orientation and rotated for 5 overlapping exposures. Exposure varied from 1/60 to 1/125 and the aperture remained at f/11. Focal point was on the wood sticking out of the water.

Post processing involved loading the 5 images into Adobe Lightroom and processing the raw files slightly. Basically the curve was adjusted to increase exposure, a bit of vibrance and clarity added, and the lens corrections applied. The files were then exported as 16bit tiffs, ProPhoto color space and no compression or resizing at 360dpi.

AutopanoPro ver.3.5 was used to stitch the images together and the result was processed in Adobe Photoshop. A Kolor haze reducing filter and Google NIK plugins (Viveza and ColorEfex Pro) were used to dodge and burn the scene, add some local tonal contrasts, and a bit of softness to the sky and clouds.

In a nutshell, all the techie stuff doesn't matter if the light hadn't been as gorgeous as it was!!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Tue, 17 Jun 2014 03:42:20 GMT
Planning the next trip... How do you start? Where do you go? Right now, when working, finding long stretches just isn't going to happen; we need to go nearby...

A nearby area we've never been to is Pismo Beach. So I think a trip starts with a well known spot and then exploring what's around there. We've made a reservation down at an RV park in Pismo Beach. From a photographic point of view (or even a new visitor) how do you find out where to go and when? Well lots on the web of course, but tonight I started looking at the DeLORME map book of Southern California (looks like DeLORME has combined N & S California into one book now). This is a great resource that shows all the little back roads and landmarks in the areas; many not immediately discernible on the web. You will definitely need a magnifying glass to read all the tiny names, but it's an amazing atlas. A photo loupe will work too! :-) As and REI fan, I'll point you to where you can find these on the REI site:

For example who would have thought of looking at See Canyon Rd.? Well it's a squiggly red line on the de Lorme map and when I googled it I found out it's fantastic for it's unique apple climate and quite a scenic ride (some gravel road; whoop!). And Montana de Oro State Park? The Elfin Forest? San Luis Lighthouse? Pt. Buchon trail (nice easy trail with views of the rugged coastlines). And there's much more. Looks like one trip will just touch the tip of the iceberg for this area.

Good way to build the excitement of a trip! There are also some photographer specific programs that will really help in determining the tides, where the sun/moon will rise and set at any location, etc. I'll keep posting about tools that I use so that when I find a nice scene I can figure out when the best light might be.

But enough for tonight. Thanks for reading!

[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Wed, 11 Jun 2014 04:37:43 GMT
In the Beginning... June 9, 2014

I'm hoping to share the places and experiences we (my wife and I) have as I move into retirement. I'm truly hoping to get deeply into my photography with the goal of capturing some of the beautiful (and perhaps not so beautiful) places we get to visit. We're pretty excited about this new phase of life for us both!!

We have bought and are getting used to our new home on wheels:

It's quite a wonder: certainly a terrific way to see the U.S. and Canada as well as for visiting our grandchild (soon to be children) and family. Until then, I'll get out and capture images as best I can while still working. 


[email protected] (Robert Adler Photography) Mon, 09 Jun 2014 19:45:33 GMT