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Best Method for Fixing Colour Casts Caused by Neutral Density Filters

I love using neutral density filters to block the amount of light coming in the camera when I am photographing seascapes. Blocking some of the light means that I can use longer shutter speeds to smooth the water or capture the motion of a wave as it rushes back to the sea.

Cannon Beach, Oregon, at sunset by Anne McKinnell
Please click the image to view a larger version.

How the Image was Made

I started out with a beautiful scene at Cannon Beach, Oregon. The longest exposure I could get by lowering my ISO to 100 and closing the aperture to f/22 was 1/4 of a second.

Cannon Beach Original

It’s nice, but one of the things I like the most about this location is the way the waves rush back to the sea and I wanted to capture that, so I needed an even longer exposure. That’s where the 4 stop neutral density filter comes in.

With the filter on, I was able to get an exposure of 2.5 seconds.

Cannon Beach Long Exposure

But, the colour cast!!! Argh!!!

All the neutral density filters have a terrible colour cast. If you know of one that doesn’t I would love to know about it.

I started out with a Cokin 4 stop neutral density filter ($40) and it has an awful magenta colour cast. Then I upgraded to a Singh-Ray 4 stop neutral density filter ($150) and it has a less intense magenta colour cast, but it’s definitely still there, as you can see in the photo above.

So, what to do? At least with the solid neutral density filter, as opposed to a graduated one, the colour cast is even throughout the frame, so you can “fix” it in post processing by adjusting the white balance. Or you could mess around with white balance in camera, but that’s a hassle we don’t need in the field, especially when it is so easily adjusted in post processing when you shoot RAW.

But, I have found that adjusting white balance isn’t necessarily the most effective method for fixing the colour cast problem.

Sure, it’s easy to move the white balance sliders, but getting the colour just right is another story.

Topaz ReStyle to the rescue! I have just discovered that by taking the photo into Topaz ReStyle and picking one of their seascape presets, the problem is instantly fixed! No more adjusting sliders by teeny amounts trying to get just the right amount of blue and not too much green.

Topaz ReStyle is now my go-to plugin for fixing colour casts!


By the way, if you haven’t tried any of the Topaz plugins yet, now is a great time because they are having a 50% off sale on their flagship product Topaz Adjust.

Topaz Adjust is a great first plugin to try because it includes a little bit of everything. You can create HDR/gritty looking images, images that look like paintings, or images that just give a bit of a boost in colour, clarity and contrast.

While I love many of the Topaz products, including ReStyle, Clarity, B&W Effects, Detail and DeNoise, I still think the best bang for your buck is Topaz Adjust.

You can get a free trial here and try out the plugin to make sure you like it. The sale is on until August 31, 2014. Make sure you use the coupon code augadjust to get the discount.

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Bald Eagle Dance

At our campsite in Campbell River, British Columbia, the bald eagles are constantly watching from above, flying by, and diving down for a fish.

One bald eagle sits on the top of a dead tree for hours every day. A few days ago, he was joined by a friend…

Two bald eagles by Anne McKinnell

I made this photo while practicing with my new Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens. I love that lens! But the eagles were a pretty long way away and I had to crop the image significantly for this composition, so unfortunately there is no larger version for you to look at this time.

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Hummingbird Landing

Why have I never had a hummingbird feeder before? I have no idea. Now that I see the photo opportunities I should have had one a long time ago!

Hummingbird Landing by Anne McKinnell
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My husband bought me this feeder as a little present. He always gets me things that are so unexpected! There were lots of hummingbirds around our last RV site so he thought it would be nice for me to have a feeder outside my window.

He was right!

I love seeing them come and go throughout the day and it is always an enjoyable interruption when I am concentrating on something at my computer.

The feeder is perfect for photography too because it’s nice and small so I get a great view of the hummingbirds. I captured this image just as one was coming in for a landing.

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Mobius Arch and My Arch in Alabama Hills

There is so much to explore near my favourite new campsite in Alabama Hills, California. So many amazing rock formations, piles of boulders, and green plains, all with the majestic Mount Whitney and the Sierra Nevada Range in the background.

There was even a slight dusting of snow remaining on the mountains during my visit.

But even with so much to explore, I just had to make the iconic shot of the well known Mobius Arch. I like icons. Even though the photos aren’t as unique as the ones that come after, I still have to make the icon shot. It’s like I have to get it out of my system.

Mobius Arch in Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California by Anne McKinnell
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But then the fun really starts when I get to go exploring and make my own new discoveries. Not that I’m the first one to ever see or photograph anything I discover, but somehow it’s different when I didn’t find out about it in a guidebook, or through someone else’s photograph, and just came across it on my own.

One evening I went exploring around the campsite. I just started walking out towards the mountains and I came across this gorgeous arch! It was such a delightful surprise and so much more rewarding to photograph than Mobius Arch because it felt like my very own.

Arch in Alabama Hills, California, by Anne McKinnell.

I like to call it “Anne’s Arch” although I’m sure it has a proper name. Still it feels like my arch because I discovered it without any help :)

And the best part was that I didn’t have to share my discovery – I had the arch and the evening all to myself.

Do you seek out the icons when you go to a new place? Or do you prefer to make your own discoveries?

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Sunset at the Estuary in Campbell River, BC

A few evenings ago we were treated to the most beautiful sunset at our campsite at Thunderbird RV park in Campbell River, BC.

This is our view from the back window of the RV! I’m so glad we picked an RV with a big picture window in the back.

The estuary fills up with water at high tide, which just happened to coincide with sunset, producing beautiful reflections.

Sunset at the Estuary in Campbell River BC by Anne McKinnell
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I made this image with my Canon 7D and the Sigma 10-20mm lens at 13mm, f/11, ISO 100, 1/4 second exposure. I’m not using my Sony NEX right now because I’m getting ready for my trip to Africa and I want to make sure I’m familiar with all the functions on my 7D again!

This is a single exposure processed entirely in Lightroom. I exposed for the sky and then in post processing I opened up the shadows to increase the detail in the foreground, and increased the saturation of the yellows to bring out the foreground grasses.

Ah, what a night!

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Campground Wildlife in Campbell River, BC

Our new home for the rest of the summer is in Campbell River, British Columbia, where we found a beautiful campsite with abundant wildlife, only 5 minutes walk from the marina!

Campbell River, a mid-point on Vancouver Island, is the place we planned on moving to before we decided we love the RV lifestyle and didn’t want to buy another house after all. Why have a house when we can live at Thunderbird RV Park where there are views on both sides and everything we need in walking distance?

On one side of our campsite is an estuary that is marshy at low tide where the birds find lots of fish. I watched this Great Blue Heron catch dozens of tiny fish before giving us a fly by.

Great Blue Heron
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Ray took this photo of me photographing the birds from the campsite.

Photographing at Thunderbird RV Park

The eagles always seem to be playing in the trees and flying overhead. A perfect opportunity to practice with my new Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens!!

Bald Eagle Flying

Golden Eagle flying

One morning we were greeted by some young deer in the campsite. I made this photo from inside the RV through double paned tinted windows!

Deer in our campsite

At high tide, the estuary looks more like a lake.

Thunderbird RV park

Yep, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere :)

On the other side of the park is the ocean. We take our lawn chairs and drinks down at happy hour and watch the cruise ships go by on their way through Discovery Passage. The ships travel between Victoria or Vancouver and Alaska. This is one of the Disney Cruise Ships.

Disney Cruise Ship

Can you see the Mickey Mouse ears on the exhaust stacks? No? Here’s a closer view.

Disney Cruise Ship

How cute is that?

As you can see, we are loving our new location at Thunderbird RV Park in Campbell River. I made all of these photos in our first few days. This is looking promising!

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Our New Favourite Campsite: Alabama Hills

One of our last stops in last winter’s snowbird season was a place that has been recommended to us by a few fellow RVers: Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.

Some of the best places we’ve discovered have been from those kinds of recommendations, and this one sure didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s now our favourite campsite!

We had the most amazing view of any campsite we’ve been to. Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet, was clearly visible from our site (that’s it in the back under the dark cloud).

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
Please click the photo to view a larger version.

I made this photo just before sunset one evening as the last of the day’s rays lit up the tops of the peaks. With my Sony NEX6 mirrorless camera firmly attached to my tripod, I used a small aperture to ensure that both the rock in the foreground and the mountains in the background were all sharply in focus.

If you’re curious about the new mirrorless camera’s, check out my review of the Sony NEX6.

The best part about this location was that there was no one there but us. Our days usually included a couple of people stopping by for a quick look, but otherwise we had the whole place to ourselves. It’s probably not like that in summertime as it was April when we were there.

This photo will give you a better idea of what our campsite looked like:

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

It was a bit of a bumpy road getting out there, but not too bad. Nothing broke, so I think it was well worth it!

I have many more images to share from this location coming up soon on the blog!

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Wallace Island Marine Park, British Columbia

The best part about summer on the coast of British Columbia is being out on the water on those warm, calm days. My little power boat, “Snoopy”, takes me to all sorts of out of the way places where I can explore the bays, coves, and watch the wildlife.

Between Vancouver Island and the mainland, there are hundreds of little islands to explore. Only some of them have public docks, so when I find one that does, I like to stop and explore on land too.

In my most recent adventure, I did a boat trip all the way around Salt Spring Island and decided to stop at Wallace Island Marine Park for some land exploration in the afternoon.

That’s Snoopy tied up at the front.

Wallace Island Marine Park

The 72 hectare island has numerous bays, including a couple that make excellent anchorages, and a series of well maintained hiking trails.

At one time, the island was privately owned and had a vacation resort with a few cabins and out-buildings. A few of them are still standing. I think this one is a picnic shelter or perhaps a place to keep the firewood dry.

Wallace Island Marine Park

But there is one particular building that is so fascinating it is hard to pull yourself away. I believe it’s the old store and over the past couple of decades hundreds of boaters enjoying a relaxing time on the island have carved driftwood signs with the names of their boats. Some of them are very creative!

Signs at Wallace Island Marine Park

Don’t you just love those vacations when you have enough time to relax and start whittling away on a piece of driftwood and make something like a clock with no hands or the shape of a boat with your name on it.

The island is so pristine, you would never guess it has had so many visitors over the years.

Signs at Wallace Island Marine Park

Signs at Wallace Island Marine Park

Signs at Wallace Island Marine Park

While enjoying the shrine to boaters, reading all the signs, and making photos, I made one really special discovery: a sign that said “Taa Daa”. It’s a sailboat belonging to my friend Janice. Three years ago, the death of her husband and my friend, Ron, was one of the things that made me decide to change my life when I had a sudden realization that I wasn’t living the life I wanted.

Signs at Wallace Island Marine Park
We miss you Ron.

Even though I’ve been pursuing this new life for three years now, I sometimes fall back into my old habits and forget what is truly important. I spend too much time on the computer and not enough time in nature. Seeing this sign was like a reminder to me. The sign was “a sign” that I need to be doing more of what I was doing that day: simply exploring and enjoying.

There were a few other great finds on the island too including a rusty old truck, a rope swing, the dinghy dock, and of course, lots of scenes of boats anchored in bays.

Old Truck at Wallace Island Marine Park

Wallace Island Marine Park British Columbia

Dinghy Dock at Wallace Island Marine Park

I wasn’t staying overnight, so I didn’t get a sunset shot, but I did stop Snoopy a couple of times on the way home to share with you the local wildlife, and just how beautiful it is boating in the Gulf Islands on a warm, calm day.

Seals near Wallace Island Marine Park

Boating in British Columbia Gulf Islands

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your social networks!

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Kolob Terrace

While trying to get away from the spring break crowds in Zion National Park, Utah, we discovered Kolob Terrace in the central part of the park.

To get there from Zion Canyon, you exit the park on the south, travel west to Virgin, and go up Kolob Terrace Road where you re-enter the park. (Note, this is a different place than Kolob Canyons.)

Along the 23 mile road you’ll find lots of scenic vistas as the terrace rises to over 8,000 feet. The only people up there were the ones hiking the subway whose cars were in the parking lots. Aside from the cars, we only saw a couple of people the whole time we were up there.

We wanted to check out Lava Point, but discovered that vehicles over 19 feet are not allowed and our Big Baby Blue is 20 feet. We also didn’t go on any of the trails because no dogs were allowed.

But still there were lots of places to pull off on the side of the road and enjoy some scenic views.

Kolob Terrace, Zion National Park, Utah by Anne McKinnell
Please click the image to view a larger version.

Admittedly, our trip to Zion wasn’t quite what we hoped for this year. Between me being sick, the bad weather (a bit of a shock after 3 months of sunny 80 degree days), and the spring break crowds, it could have been better. But even with all that, Zion is so spectacular it’s hard to come away without at least a few breathtaking views.

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Kolob Canyons

Zion National Park can be a pretty busy place with all the hikers doing Angel’s Landing and the Narrows and all the photographers lined up on the bridge.

Plus, we made a critical mistake. Because we had been there before, we didn’t do as much research as we usually do. We just booked a week at the RV park.

It turned out that the week we chose was spring break!!!! Noooooo!!! All the people! It was outrageous.

We couldn’t even get to the narrows because there was no where to park and it was a week before the shuttle bus started.

Seriously, spring break and there’s no shuttle bus? Who planned this?

Now we know and we’ll never go there again during spring break, that’s for sure.

We decided to find a quieter part of the park to enjoy, so we went on a drive to check out some of the other park entrances. The first was Kolob Canyons.

Kolob Canyons is located on the north western corner of the park, but to get there you have to drive out of the park, back to interstate 15, and re-enter the park at the Kolob Canyon entrance. You will enjoy many scenic vistas along the five mile drive on Kolob Canyons Road, like this one:

Kolob Canyon
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I made this photo right on the side of the road. I used a small aperture of f/25 to create a large depth of field so I could get both the flowers in the foreground (Japonica, I think?) and the mountains in focus.

Next up on the blog, I’ll show you another quiet spot in the park, Kolob Terrace.

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