Recently I was editing some of my image files from the Eastern Sierra, a wondrous place east of Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks where trees grow for thousands of years, land erodes abandoning balancing boulders, and alpine snowmelt feeds ancient lakes.

 
While I reprocessed a few shots, taking advantage of new wonderful features in Lightroom 5.2 and Photoshop CS6, I came across this scene (below)- a photo captured years ago just east of Mono Lake.  A sunset road scene on a long desolate stretch of Highway 120 west of the California/ Nevada border, documented during a long February road trip photographing the US West.  As I recalled this wonderful peaceful road that led us to our final destination of Mono Lake, the name David Gaines came to mind.
Highway 120 near the California/Nevada border at sunset © Sean Arbabi

Originally part of the Great Basin, Mono Lake is a one-of-a-kind place.  Home to trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies, and over 2,000,000 migratory waterbirds, including 35 species of shorebirds, use the ancient lake as a resting, nesting, and feeding place.  When you walk along the lakeshore viewing thousands of flies fan out as they avoid each of your footsteps, touch the salty waters painted red by the abundance of tiny shrimp, and gaze in awe at the monstrous clouds rolling over the Sierra, you feel how special and unique this body of water really is. 

The southern shores of Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada at sunrise © Sean Arbabi

A lake with no outlets, the alpine streams and annual rainfall that feed it remain in the natural bowl for tens of thousands of years- that is until Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power (the DWP) began searching for new sources of water to supply their ever-growing Southern California metroplex.  From 1941 to 1990, the lake level began dropping as the DWP diverted unrestrained amounts of water from Mono Basin streams.  Mono Lake dropped 45 vertical feet over 50 years, lost half its volume, doubled in salinity, and exposed previously submerged tufa towers (limestone structures that grow exclusively underwater).

Moonrise over the Eastern Sierra, as seen from the southern Tufa-lined shores of Mono Lake © Sean Arbabi

 

Courtesy of NASA

People like David, and those who worked tirelessly at the Mono Lake Committee, fought Los Angeles’ DWP from draining the lake through numerous ecological studies, court cases, and injunctions.  I 1989 I joined the cause, photographing the Mono Lake Bike-A-Thon, capturing over a hundred riders as they peddled 332 miles from the DWP offices to the shores of the lake, raising funds for the fight.  Many of the decisions that came in favor of Mono Lake and the Mono Lake Basin allow us all- humans, birds, and wildlife- to enjoy its wonders.  Sadly, Owens Lake, an ancient body of water covering 108 square miles nestled in southern Owens Valley 10,000 feet below the towering Whitney range, was not able to be saved, drained by the DWP over a span of roughly 40 years.  Full in 1913, desiccated by the mid 1940s.  Much of the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and today the mostly dry lake bed is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.

Looking west at Highway 136 and Owens Lake below the Whitney Range © Sean Arbabi
David Gaines (courtesy of the Mono Lake Committee)

So why did a photo of a highway remind me of David Gaines, a person I never met?  Well, David was tragically killed in a car accident in the winter of 1988 along Highway 395, south of Mono Lake, on a stretch of road similar to the one I posted above.  I drove along the road he did a few months later and captured that photo above on my first visit to the area.  Someday I will use that road to take my two daughters to the shores of Mono Lake.  I will tell them about the history of this region, about its ancient waters, and how we are still able to share it with future generations thanks to people like David Gaines.  He may have been taken far too early, but he gave far more to the world than most.


22Jul

Aperture vs. Lightroom – a quick response

Had a friend ask me today about Lightroom vs. Aperture- here was my response:

When it comes to digital workflow, you can’t go wrong with either.

Apple makes a solid program that works great, and as they are with everything, Aperture will continue to be integrated into more and more of their products most likely (not that you need it, but it’s nice to know).

Lightroom is fantastic. Having both programs, I probably use it more because of the seamless flow with Photoshop. I say that, but Aperture has enough plug-ins (i.e. Nik software, Photomatix, etc) and menus, and can link up to Photoshop if necessary (you just have to set that up in Preferences with Aperture, choosing your external editing program like Photoshop).


Again, oranges vs oranges. Lay outs are a bit different, but both are extremely user friendly- I tend to jump between the two depending on the project I’m working on. Both have tons of menus, sliders, etc. to correct color shifts, adjust a number of images through batch processing, fix exposure, contrast, saturation, etc.

If possible, download both trail versions (not sure if Aperture has one) and test ’em to see what you like- if Apple doesn’t have one, I’m sure you can review it at a store.

Here’s two screenshots of both programs in one of my Facebook albums (similar to the ones I loaded in this blog): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.220105390806.143046.122003760806&type=1

BTW, I should have a Digital Workflow workshop coming up sometime later this year where I cover both of these programs, and how I handle my image workflow and cataloging- I’ll update you all when that happens (whether at Camera West, Calumet, Point Reyes, online with PPSOP.com, or another workshop company).

Wish I could answer everyone’s personal email questions, but this might be an easier way to spread the word.

Have a great weekend all!

21Nov

Affection for my Master Collection

I finally landed my copy of Adobe’s Master Collection which launched in late September, and I can’t wait to get started! Yahooie.


I’m mainly looking forward to using all the new jammin’ functions in Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2.1 (Lightroom doesn’t come with Master Collection), but Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection comes with a ton of programs:

From video to stills, graphics to design, audio to html, the Master Collection is everything a multi-media person could desire. I use Dreamweaver CS3 since moving over from GoLive CS2, but lookin’ forward to Dreamweaver CS4 for new updated web design. Photoshop CS4 Extended also has a new 3D object painting which sounds like a fantastic feature – who says we need to shoot all product colors from here out?! There’s many new aspects of Bridge and Camera Raw that simplify Photoshop functions, allowing you to get a ton of work done before even opening and processing the file.

There’s a ton to go through, but I hope to add updates over the next few months on all the new cool features. The main programs I’ll start with are Photoshop CS4, Bridge CS4, Dreamweaver CS4, and Indesign CS4.

Stay tuned groovy photo dudes and dudettes.

26Feb

HDR, iPhone, Lightroom vs. Aperture, my life…

Another February blog/podcast discussing High Dynamic Range images, my iPhone (that I love more that life itself), as well as some comparison between Adobe’s Lightroom 1.3, and Apple’s Aperture.


Here’s a HDR photo captured up on Mt. Diablo State Park in the San Francisco Bay Area (Northern California) combining seven RAW image files to capture the 15-stop range from highlights to shadow detail.

Then I’ve included a screenshot of Adobe’s Lightroom software program displaying some of my images (all images © Sean Arbabi / Arbabi Imagery). 

In my podcast/ blog, I also share some upcoming assignments and plans in my photo business, as well as general thoughts and another fun quote.  Enjoy PhotoGuru-heads…

For more info on:
Sean & his photography: http://www.seanarbabi.com


Apple’s Aperture 2: http://www.apple.com/aperture

Adobe’s Lightroom: http://www.adobe.com/lightroom

Apple’s iPhone 8GB & 16Gb versions: http://www.apple/iphone

High Dynamic Range images: http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/hdr