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Sunset Magazine Cover!!!

Wahoo I got my first big cover image!

I am completely amazed, feel so lucky, and am so grateful to Tandem and Sunset for this opportunity, especially as part of the National Parks Guide. I've been told their readership is around 8 million people...just staggering to think that many people will see my photography.  I took this image on my first visit to Yosemite Valley while waiting for a tow truck to come take away my dead car, I guess I am glad the mishap forced me to spend more time than expected at Swinging Bridge so i could capture this photo mid-morning. Thanks again Tandem and JP!

Sunset Magazine, March 2014

Sunset Magazine, March 2014

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How Light Changes Throughout the Day

I often hear the question, should that location be photographed in the morning or evening, or why not during the middle of the day? On one of my trips to San Fransico, I happened to spend a lot of time at one of the viewpoints overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands.  I was scouting the area for the flyby of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, so I got photographs from midnight, sunrise, mid-day, and sunset during that 24 hour period. I found it interesting to watch how the light changed over the bridge and city over the course of those hours, so of the images below which time of day do you like best?

Dawn

The sun rises behind the bridge so it is back lit, somewhat muting the classic red of the towers.  When planning a photoshoot, always think about how the light will be hitting your subject. The Photographer's Ephemeris is an excellent tool for this and it allows you to plan shoots and your optimal positioning in advance.  To compensate for a high dynamic range scene like this you could also use HDR (high dynamic range) techniques to blend multiple exposures. 

Image Details:  24mm f/18 0.6 seconds Nikon D800

Image Details:  24mm f/18 0.6 seconds Nikon D800

Mid-Day

With the bright direct sun and possible haze, mid-day is generally the worst time of day to photograph a place like the Golden Gate.  The colors tend to be cooler and a polarizer is recommended.  When the Space Shuttle Endeavour finally made its fly by on the back of the 747, it was mid-morning and the light was quite bad for photography.  Due to delays at Edwards, it was behind schedule so the light was harsher than I had anticipated.  

Image Details: 24 mm f/14 1/400 second ISO 640  Nikon D800

Image Details: 24 mm f/14 1/400 second ISO 640  Nikon D800

I had planned my location based on NASA's published flight plan so that Endeavour would fly right between the two bridge towers with the city in the background.  I felt that the color version did not have the proper impact, so I converted it to black and white to bring out the details and focus attention on the Endeavour.  If you have no choice but to photograph mid-day, try thinking about your images in black and white while setting up your compositions. 

Image Details: 24 mm f/14 1/400 second ISO 640  Nikon D800 - B&W Conversion in Nik Silver Effects Pro.

Image Details: 24 mm f/14 1/400 second ISO 640  Nikon D800 - B&W Conversion in Nik Silver Effects Pro.

Sunset

Sunset is when the Golden Gate really shines from this location.  The warm light of the setting sun compliments its red color, and the beautiful city of San Fransisco can be seen in the background. It doesn't hurt when there are beautiful fiery clouds in the sky either...

Most of the time while the best light is in the sky, the city lights are not on.  This was the case here, and the lights on the bridge and in San Fransisco in the background are not lit.  

Image Details: 24mm f/20 2.0 seconds Nikon D800

Image Details: 24mm f/20 2.0 seconds Nikon D800

Blue Hour

Blue hour is the short time after sunset or before sunrise where the sky takes on a brilliant sapphire blue in photographs. During this time period is also when most of the city lights come on, creating a great back drop to create compelling images.  The starburst effect seen on the bridge lights is from using a small f-stop, around f/18. You can also stretch exposures longer during this time of day to catch streaking headlights from passing cars.  This is an excellent technique to add leading lines and that extra bit of interest to your cityscapes.

Of the images shown here, this is my favorite for the best combination of light and depth. The city looks so great glittering in the back ground. So make sure you don't pack up too soon after sunset; stay and wait for blue hour. 

Image Details: 38 mm f/14 ISO 250 30 seconds Nikon D800

Image Details: 38 mm f/14 ISO 250 30 seconds Nikon D800

Midnight

Two hours after sunset begins the best time of night to start photographing stars.  When you're in the city however, they tend to be hard to see.  You can see that compared to the blue hour shot above, this image has a jet black sky.  All of the city and bridge lights are on though, so if you want to photograph at midnight or during blue hour comes down to personal preference and what type of image you are trying to capture.

Image Details: 24mm f/5.6 30 seconds Nikon D800

Image Details: 24mm f/5.6 30 seconds Nikon D800

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The Listening Rock

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The Listening Rock

We join Roger as he makes camp in Yosemite.....

I set camp among dark trees, within the murmuring comfort of the river. I was scrutinized by stellar jays and squirrels. The day drifted, and soon I began to cook a hot meal. Resting against a tree, my muscles let me know of their stiffness from the days hike. I had my pack open, and while munching on some gorp, I kneeled down to stir the broth, which was beginning to boil on the small Svea back packing stove. 

Suddenly I paused, my senses charged to alertness. The air felt strange and full of presence. Slowly I turned my head and look squarely into the deep eyes of a very large brown bear. He was only two feet away from me, and I could smell his breath. Because I was kneeling, and he had stepped up on a log, the bear seemed to tower over me. The brown eyes

possessed a coolness I lacked; the hulking shape carried perhaps four times my weight. Adrenaline pulsed through my body.

He didn’t move. Neither did I.

It seemed like hours but only seconds passed.

The bruin stood before me in anticipation of a dinner, all the while drooling on my back pack and sleeping bag. I hadn’t invited him, directly at least; the smell of the broth had called him - as loudly as a dinner bell on a midwest- ern farm.

Slowly, without making a sound or lodging a complaint, I retreated. I backed away about thirty feet, and grabbed the first branch of a tree - a vertical escape route. The bear had come within two feet of me, and I never heard him approach, although the rush of the river undoubtedly concealed some of the noise. I could not hear him as he inspected my camp. Soon he discovered my peanut butter, and I had the urge to yell at him. But this posed an interesting problem...what does one say to a very large bear when he begins to eat all your food?

[Excerpt from the Listening Rock - Vol 1] Click here for more.  

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The New Matthew Kuhns Photography

Welcome to the new Matthew Kuhns Photography! I have been very busy over the last few months with a myriad of projects, and many of them are finally reaching completion!  So in addition to some of the things discussed below, expect some REALLY COOL projects to be announced within the next few months. 

Website Redesign

I realize I hadn't been diligent about updating my website, so I am partway through a complete overhaul.  Updating the images and making it easier to purchase fine art and e-books through it. I'm excited to show you some of my recent work, I have been busy! Its been awesome being able to go on at least a few trips every month, from Hawaii to the Appalachians and many places in between taking over 20,000 photos. 

E-Books

Expect to see several E-Books released in 2014, starting with The Listening Rock, which describes my fathers journeys illustrated by my photographs.  

I also linked to some excellent E-Books by Ian Plant, worth checking out. 

Getting back in Mountaineering Shape

One of my goals for this winter is to do more back country photography in the High Sierra.  I realized though that I've been working too much and gotten a little bit out of shape.  So after some mediocre progress on my own I was able to, after a long search, find a trainer who would help me train on my bike for mountaineering.  You can follow my progress on Strava if you want to watch me suffer: http://www.strava.com/athletes/1149613

Time Lapse System

While hiking in Yosemite with Jeff Mitchum he challenged me to create an ultra light time lapse dolly that could be carried into the Sierra back country.  I didn't really know what I was getting myself into when I said I could do it, and do it in under 5 lbs.... but a little over a year later its up and running and officially Patent Pending.  

Its a ridiculously cool design, using all I've learned about composites and 3D printing through aerospace engineering and bringing it to the photography world.   It even folds up nicely and will fit into a standard 40L pack for hiking.  

We will work to productionize it over the next few months, but if anyone is interested in one of the prototypes, let me know. 

photo.JPG

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Mountaineers Route

This past weekend I made an attempt at climbing Mt Whitney (14,505 ft) via the Mountaineers Route.  Quark and I started the climb with gorgeous weather and blue skies, and we made it to Lower Boyscout Lake in time for a lunch and some romping in the snow.

My gear, around 45 lbs.

After that point we were above the snow line, and the soft spring snow started making me regret my decision to leave my snowshoes in the car.  I was post holing up to my waist, and there were times I had to crawl in order to make progress.  I eventually made it past Upper Boyscout Lake and climbed the ridge near Iceberg Lake to make camp. 

A room with a view!

It was a gorgeous sunset that evening and a beautiful cold night full of bright stars.  The mountains are truly gorgeous, especially when you are surrounded by high snow covered peaks.

The next morning I arose before dawn and put on my crampons, only the snow had not frozen over night and was still too soft without snow shoes.  I realized that attempting the summit alone and tired would not be a safe endeavor, so I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise and vowed to come back another day.

Sunset looking down the Mountaineers Route with Boyscout Lake and Alabama Hills in the distance.

Quarks favorite pastime is playing in the snow. On the descent he got so excited about the glissading that he would slide down the hill, then run back to the top and line up next to me so we could race, it was very cute!

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An Escape to Zion

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An Escape to Zion

One place in the national park system shines above all others for the best nature photography, Zion National Park in Utah.  Two hundred million years of nature's violent forces of ice, snow and water carved out a canyon in the sandstone which can only be described as "awesome".   A paradise for landscape photographers, the glowing orange, red and pink textured sandstone provide a gorgeous contrast with the bright blue skies...

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The Cracked Wastes

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The Cracked Wastes

Death Valley. The name alone conjured images of a dusty barren wasteland. The park has virtually no water, and is full of sun-bleached rocks and sand, devoid of the lush vegetation usually associated with beautiful landscapes. Not to mention the extreme temperature fluctuations a photographer must endure to get the shot in the best light of dawn, where it can be snowing at 4am and 90 degrees by the time you drive out of the park at noon.

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Experiencing Yosemite

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Experiencing Yosemite

Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer, there is one place on the planet where it’s easy to achieve beautiful landscape photography. The natural beauty of Yosemite National Park has inspired photographers for decades. In 1890 Yosemite Valley was granted national park status, and since then a series of roads and trails were built to give you easy access to the valley's breathtaking vistas.

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The Breeze at Big Sur

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The Breeze at Big Sur

It's almost impossible not to capture pretty landscape pictures at Big Sur, on the Central Coast of California.  Because of the traffic-halting views along this stretch of highway, professional and amateur photographers alike will find snapping a few pictures from these spots irresistible.

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Changing Light

Waiting for the Shot
Originally published on the Pictureline Blog

“’Is that what it really looked like?’ is one of the most common questions I receive about my photography, which comes in second just behind the oft quoted “Wow, you must have a really nice camera!” I believe that the first question is common for two reasons, first because people are skeptical of great images due to the prevalence of Photoshop, and second because they are usually sound asleep or eating a pleasant dinner during the best light of the day when others are out capturing “The Shot.” The quality and color of light can change dramatically not only over the course of the day, but even over mere minutes around sunrise and sunset. To get those great photographs, photographers not only must be in the right place, but also must be there at the right time.  Sometimes that “right time” lasts for only a minute.

“I put together the following image as an example to show how quickly light can change, especially in a location like Death Valley, and I thought readers may also find it informative.  I hope this is good inspiration to get out of that warm sleeping bag at 4 am!

Sunrise in Death Valley

“This composite image is of the Badwater area in Death Valley in January 2012. Each segment of the image was shot and processed in the exact same way using a three-stop graduated neutral density filter with a white balance of 6000 K.  Sunrise for this day was at 6:51 am. I chose Badwater because the white salt accentuates the colors and really helps illustrate the changes over time. My favorite photograph that morning was taken at 6:41 am and was shot vertically, and shot in camera with the same color temperature and external filter as I mentioned above.”

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