Kurt M Lawson Photography »

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Palm Tree and Puffy Clouds

Palm Tree and Puffy Clouds - Canon 5D Mark II with 16-35 2.8L @ 23mm, 1/200 at f/9.0 ISO 100

After months of deliberation and planning, I’ve finally upgraded to a 5D Mark II. I’m hoping this new camera will help take my photography to the next level. The resolution is more than double that of my 40d (21.1 megapixels vs 10.1) and I have long been looking forward having a full 35mm sized sensor. Moving from an APS-C sized sensor in the 40d to full frame means that my 10-22mm lens will no longer work, as this lens physically not fit in front of the larger mirror box. For the ultra-wide focal range I have decided to replace the 10-22 with the 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens. This is a nearly identical field of view range but for the larger sensor and at a constant 2.8 aperture. The above image, a quick snapshot on my way to work, was taken with the new combo. When I downloaded the morning’s images I was stunned to see the sharpness in the palm tree. Below are 100% crops from the raw image. There’s a little bit of processing in Lightroom (default sharpness is used). This is a tremendous improvement on image detail, and I’m really looking forward to using this new tool in the field.

100% crop near the center of the Palm image

100% crop near the center of the Palm image

100% crop from the top of the Palm image

100% crop from the top of the Palm image

100% crop of the bottom trunk in the Palm image

100% crop of the bottom trunk in the Palm image

I have many more updates planned. I can’t wait to go out and shoot with the new gear!

The Maroon Bells

Back in 1997 my Mom and I went to Aspen, Colorado during spring break. During this trip we ventured over to the Maroon Bells, a beautiful set of 14,000 foot peaks.

The instanty recognizable Maroon Bells

The instanty recognizable Maroon Bells

The valley had just been opened up after being cleared of avalanche danger. To get there at this time of year required snowmobiles, since the snow over the road was still several feet deep. Mom and I spent all morning there in the valley with just the mountains, snow, and hot chocolate provided by the little shack at the end of the road. It was a pristine and beautiful morning, and I will not forget being there.

Aspens and Shadows

Aspens and Shadows

Blue and gold contrast amplified by the polarizing filter I was using

Blue and gold contrast amplified by the polarizing filter I was using

Some of the surrounding peaks

Some of the surrounding peaks

Silver Aspens

Silver Aspens

Structure Fire at 14th and Pico

One day at work a couple of years back we spotted a huge fire a couple miles away. On this day I had my camera gear with me and decided to take some pictures on my way home if there was anything to be seen. I later learned that this was a CD duplication company. Firefighters were dumping an insane amount of water on this building for several hours.

View of the fire from work

View of the fire from work

Lots of trucks

Lots of trucks

Water jet from the top of the ladder

Water jet from the top of the ladder

Water everywhere

Water everywhere

Firefighter silhouette

Firefighter silhouette

This fire hydrant was completely tapped

This fire hydrant was completely tapped

Fire continued to rage into the night

Fire continued to rage into the night

A firefighter takes a moment to rest

A firefighter takes a moment to rest

October 9, 2009 - 9:36 am

Justin Johnson - Those are great pictures, albeit an unfortunate circumstance. Did you give any to newspaper or TV?

October 9, 2009 - 9:42 am

Kurt - No I didn’t. Perhaps I should have tried to send some in somewhere. Perhaps one of the free Santa Monica papers would have been interested.

Star Trails

Star Trails over Lake Tahoe, 2006

Star Trails over Lake Tahoe, 2006

One thing I’ve found to be intriguing about night-time photography is the phenomenon of “star trails.” Star trails are created by leaving the camera shutter open for long periods of time to let the light of stars paint across the film. The effect is no different than any other long exposure side effect, with the exception that the movement represented is the rotation of the Earth rather than of the camera. Depending on the composition, this can produce some interesting results. Star trails can be seen in exposures as low as 30 seconds. However the more dramatic trails require exposures of an hour or even longer.

An hour of the night, Lake Tahoe, CA 2006

An hour of the night, Lake Tahoe, CA 2006

Star Trails and Clouds, Mt. Pinos, CA 2007

Star Trails and Clouds, Mt. Pinos, CA 2007

Astronomers and Star Trails, Mt. Pinos, CA, September 2008

Astronomers and Star Trails, Mt. Pinos, CA, September 2008

Star Trails over Providenciales with half Moon, Turks and Caicos Islands November 2006

Star Trails over Providenciales with half Moon, Turks and Caicos Islands November 2006

Star Trails over the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos Islands November 2006

Star Trails over the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos Islands November 2006

This short sequence of frames shows the progression of star trails in exposures of 5 to 30 minutes.

September 27, 2009 - 1:16 pm

Emily - These are so beautiful, Kurt! I just love the star pictures. You have so much talent.

October 18, 2010 - 1:59 pm

Danny Hussey - Great blog and great images!
http://bit.ly/bv3s3P

Train Textures

Paint peels from the side of a freight car

Peeling Paint

My childhood fascination with trains has led me on many photographic adventures. In Southern California, there are many opportunities to see and experience the wonders of railroads, whether by taking a Metrolink or Amtrak train ride or visiting any number of local tourist destinations and museums. Through some searching online I discovered the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA. This fantastic museum offers a range of activities and sights for the railroad enthusiast, and the avid photographer. With this group of shots I’m focusing on a less than obvious side of railroad equipment I saw at the museum. I’m speaking of the infinite array of textures presented by the range of locomotives and rolling stock on display at the museum. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the big things around you that you might sometimes miss the smaller things right in front of you. In this case I realized that many of the old freight cars around the museum grounds offered some fascinating textures to explore photographically. These images are a few of the results.

ROX

ROX

Suspension

Suspension

Tank Car Brake

Tank Car Brake

Painted Texture II

Painted Texture II

ARCO

ARCO

Brake Shadow

Brake Shadow

September 17, 2009 - 8:43 am

Robert - Great pics Kurt-O! My fav being the ‘Tank Car Brake’.

November 3, 2009 - 12:27 am

Prierien - Perfect work!

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