The Profesional Web Site Of Landon Blake

The December 2018 Issue of Astronomy Magazine had a short article about the discovery of SIMP J01365663+0933473. This is a massive planet (probably a gas giant like Jupiter) that was too small to become a star. There are a couple of cool things about this planet.

First: It is a rogue planet. That means it doesn't orbit a star. It is floating in intersteller space about 20 years from our solar system and doesn't orbit a star.

Second: It has a magnetic field that is 4 million times stronger than the one on Earth. The star lights up with spectacular aurorea that are probably caused by a moon orbiting the planet. (Jupiters aurorae are caused by it's moon Europa in a similar way.)

This rouge planet and its moon (or moons) would provide a cool setting for a hard sci-fi story.

I enjoy reading hard science fiction and I'm also a subscriber to Astronomy Magazine. (I haven't done any of my own backyard astronomy yet, but I think about building my own backyard telescope.) I wanted to put together a short post about the cool ideas or discoveries for hard science fiction writers that I found in the 2019 issues of Astronomy Magazine. Here they are:

Discovery #1: An Icy Crater On Mars

The European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter captured images of a crater in the North Lowlands of Mars that is filled with ice. The crater is 51 miles wide and contains an icy bed that is over 1 mile thick in places. The crater is named for Sergie Korolev, a space race engineer who is often considered the father of Soviet space technology. The floor of the crater is wrapped in a blanket of cold air that helps prevent the ice from melting or evaporating. The crater would be a cool place to get water for human explorers or colonists on Mars. You can read a short article about the crater in Astronomy Magazine. The Mars Express Orbiter also captured radar images that indicate there is a layer of water underground Mar's south pole.

Discovery #2: Farout A Distant Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System

The April 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine featured a short article about the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. It is a pink dwarf planet identified as 2018 VG, but nicknamed "Farout". Farout is 120 astronomical units from the Earth. It is about 3.5 times farther from Earth that its sister dwarf planet Pluto. The planet was found using the 26 foot wide Japanese telescope Subaru, located on Hawaii. Farout is a great place for a remote outpost in our solar system, like other dwarf planets we will likely discover.

Discovery #3: A Massive Star Births Its Own Small Companion Star

The April 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine also revealed the discovery of a giant start that had another small start born in its own protoplanetary disk. (This is the disk of dust and gas that orbits stars and gives birth to planets.) The main star, named MM 1A, is 40 times as massive as our sun. Its child star MM1B, is just half the mass of our sun. This is the first time scientists have seen a star form from the material in the protoplanetary disk of its parent star. Scientists think the small star may form planets of its own. A star with planets that orbits a more massive star with its own planetary system. This would be a cool setting or template for an interesting solar system.

The star system was discovered by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array Telescope.

You can read a short article in Astronomy Magazine about the star system.

Discovery #4: Dwarf Planet "Goblin" Has Highly Elliptical Orbit Throwing It 2300 Astronomical Units From The Sun

The February 2019 Issue of Astronomy Magazine has a short article talking about the discovery of the dwarf planet named 2015 TG 387, but nicknamed "The Goblin". The Goblin is about 220 miles in diameter. It follows a highly elliptical orbit that is over 2300 astronomical units from the sun at its farthest point. It takes 32,000 years to orbit the sun.

Would a colony or outpost on The Goblin be isolated from the rest of the solar system for the period of time when it was farthest of the sun? What type of society or group would seek that type of isolation on the cold dark edge of space? These are interesting questions that could be answered by a hard sci-fi writer.

Today I’m pleased to introduce photographer Martin Carlisle. Martin has many stunning landscape photos. My favorites are his photos of mountains and rivers from Alaska. You can see examples of Martin’s landscape photos in this post.

Martin graciously offered to do a short interview for my blog. Here it is:

How did you get involved in photography?

Martin: When I was growing up my parents were doing photography and we always had cameras around and were encouraged to use them so I had a chance to see what some of the possibilities were but didn’t
get really serious about it until I was in my twenties. After that I was travelling more often to places like the Canadian Rockies and wanted to learn how to get the best results when photographing in areas like this. Seeing images from Ansel Adams, the Westons, Bruce Barnbaum, Ray Atkeson, the Muench generations and many others was very inspirational in seeing what could be done. I had a darkroom for printing black and whites and used slide film for colour but switched to digital about eight years ago.

What attracts you to landscape photography over other types of photography?

Martin: There’s always something special about being outdoors in the Rockies and many other areas. Trying to make photographs that really show something of this just seemed like a natural thing to try and do.

What is your favorite camera/lens combo for landscape photography?

Martin: I’ve used a number of different cameras over the years. For a long time I had an old second hand Hasselblad for medium format black and white film and an Olympus OM-1 and 4 for colour slides. For
digital I’ve used a Pentax K5 with a Tamron 17-50 zoom or Tamron 90mm macro which worked well. Recently I picked up a discounted Canon EOS M with its 17-55mm lens which is nice to use because of it’s small size which makes it much easier to carry than the larger cameras.

What post-processing software do you use and what steps do you follow in your post-processing workflow?

Martin: Usually Photoninja is used to do the raw conversion since I find I like the results with it better than Lightroom/ACR . Then the saved tiff goes into Lightroom5 where it might get some initial local adjustments and then into Photoshop CC. Frequently the tonal contrast filter of Nik Color Efex is used to adjust the contrast of the highlights, midtones and shadows separately. If it’s going to be a black and white it gets converted in Nik Silver Efex Pro II. After that it goes back to Lightroom for some final local adjustments.

What tips would you offer to the rookie landscape photographer?

Martin: Try and photograph frequently. Like everything else, the more you practice the better you get. The newer mirrorless cameras have advantages since they are smaller and easier to carry and so
can be with you more often than larger DSLRs and lenses. Turn off automatic adjustments and leave them on manual, it makes it better see how all the adjustments work together and how to set them
for best results than if the camera does it for you. Shoot everything  raw and find what software options can give you the results that you want. Look at other photographs. I saw a line in one of Ansel Adams
books once that said something like the scene before you may be exciting but will the picture of it be exciting. No matter what the subject is, when making a photograph of it it’s the final result that counts.

Take a look at Martin’s Flickr web page for more great landscape photos!

Today I’m please to introduce my readers to Tony Immoos. Tony is a landscape photographer with many beautiful shots on his Flickr stream. This post includes some examples of Tony’s landscape photos and a short interview I did with him. I hope you enjoy his work as I did. Don’t forget to follow him on Flickr.

Here is Tony’s interview:

1) How did you get involved in photography?

Honestly, I don’t remember the details. More than likely I had seen the work of Ansel Adams and decided to buy a camera and give it a try, which I did in 1983. I bought a Pentax 35mm SLR with two lenses, a 35 and a 50mm. Within a year I had a darkroom setup at home and was developing B&W film and prints.

2) What attracts you to landscape photography over other types of photography?

I’ve always enjoyed being in the outdoors. Fishing, hiking, golf and many other activities, I guess it was inevitable that I would start capturing the views while I was out there.

3) What is your favorite camera/lens combo for landscape photography?

The Olympus E-3 and the Olympus Zuiko Digital 12-60mm, an excellent lens. A very high percentage of my landscape images have been taken with that combination.

4) What post-processing software do you use and what steps do you follow in your post-processing workflow?

Silkypix and Paint Shop Pro 8. Both a little dated but they do what I need them to do.

My workflow is mostly just making basic adjustments to an image. White balance, contrast, brightness, saturation, sharpness and a crop if needed, which I do with silkypix. Sometimes in high contrast scenes I’ll use exposure blending in PSP8 to achieve a visual that the use of a neutral density filter couldn’t quite accomplish. For the most part I’ve stayed away from HDR. I can almost always get the look I want layering exposures or making a simple gamma adjustment to lift the shadows which might be all that is needed to balance out and image.

5) What tips would you offer to the rookie landscape photographer?

First, learn everything you can about your equipment, settings and capabilities, so when you’re out in the field you can make adjustments as necessary without too much thought.

And second… Stop! Take a look around every once in awhile and enjoy the view. I sometimes get too wrapped up in the photography when I’m at a beautiful location and I ignore the sights, sounds and the smell of nature. I’ll get home with a bunch of photographs but lacking the memories I should have of being there. I was once walking to south tufa at Mono Lake one morning, right after a heavy rainstorm, the smell of wet sage was thick in the air, I stopped for a few moments to really take it all in, I can still smell the sage all these years later.

Today I want to share a few more beautiful landscape photos from Cliff Laplant.

The photo above is a self-portait Cliff took on Volcanic Ridge in the Inyo National Forest in California.  He set his Nikon D800 low on my tripod and captured this scene over Cecile Lake just as the Sun went over the Minarets.

The photo below is of sunset over University Peak and Matlock Lake Sunset in Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.  This was shot with Cliff's Nikon D800 with a 16-35mm lens.  Cliff used a tripod for the shot and the photo was post processed in Paintshop.

This evening I’m pleased to introduce the readers of my blog to photographer Sandra McMartin. Sandra’s photography is very enjoyable, and I like several of her “painted landscapes” like the one I’ve shown above and this powerful photo. She also has beautiful macro photos, like this one.

Sandra was willing to do a short interview for my blog:

1) How did you get involved in photography?

I have had a camera for as long as I can remember.  I have undeveloped film in a draw from when I was 10.  I have been the family historian, documenting the unfolding of our lives. Truly though my current growth has really been facilitated by the introduction of the digital SLR into my life.  I am a visual learner and being able to see immediately what changing my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO does to my image, has catapulted what would have taken photography school to learn, to learning by playing.

2) What is your favorite camera/lens combo?

Honestly it changes daily.  I have a number of different lenses, one body.  I shoot with a Nikon D7000.  I have the kit 18-105, 50 1.4, 55-300 Nikon lenses.  Then I have the Sigma 10-20 and the Macro 105.  I also have two Nikon D700 flashes and a number of softboxes and umbrella’s.  I shoot a lot with flash.  I like to use the wrong lens usually and see what happens.  I recently went on a portrait shot and shoot with my Sigma 10-20, with me lying on the ground shooting up.  Loved what it did to the perspective of the model.  I truly wish I could have a favorite, then I could leave my bag at home, as it is I always carry everything with me and return home with very sore shoulders.

3) What software do you use for post-processing? What is your post-processing workflow?

I shoot RAW, and start by processing in Adobe Camera Raw.  From there it really depends on the image. I use Photoshop Creative Cloud as my base program and then use a number of different programs.  I may do tone mapping with NIK HDR or I have developed a number of my own presets in Topaz Simplify.  I use all the OnOne modules, as well as Alien Skin.  The most import thing is how you finish your image with the correct sharpening, vignette and sometimes a border.  I blend all the different effects with the goal of no one being able to identify which effect I used.  I don’t want anyone to say, oh I know that filter.  I have all the Nik modules, all the Topaz modules, all the OnOne, Alienskin Snapart and Exposure, and Corel Paint Shop Pro X6.

4) What tips would you offer to rookie photographers?

Get out and shoot as much as you can.  I try to shoot 500 plus images a week.  Join a photo club or meetup group.  Join on-line groups where you have to post images by a theme.  I have found that the people who get better are actually out taking pictures!  The more varied you can be at the beginning the quicker you learn.  Even if landscape is your love, learn macro and portrait.  The skills you learn will make your landscape photographs better.  For example, you may not use a flash in landscape photography, but if you do portrait you may, then you take the knowledge and apply it to your landscape work, and all of a sudden your images are different.  Learn the rules so that you can break them effectively.

Personally I prefer to shoot alone.  I like to immerse myself in the environment.  I find I take better pictures when I am not distracted by social interaction.  Plus I can stay until I am satisfied that I have gotten every last shot there is to get.

5) If you could change one thing about your own photography, what would it be?

Wouldn’t change a thing except maybe be more free, experiment more, shoot into the sun, cut the tops off trees!  Having been a part of a photography club for the last three years where we competed monthly, with a pretty defined set of rules, I am determined to unlearn every rule I have ever learned.  I would like to approach my photography more as a painter.  My sister is an incredible painter and she see’s composition so differently than me.  She has painted a number of my photograph’s and it is interesting to see the difference.

6) Are there any new photography technologies that really excite you?

I update my software regularly.   I am always on the lookout for new post processing programs.  I love photography because it gets me outside in nature, but truly I LOVE working on my images.  I love the possibilities of what I can do once that image is on my computer.  So I will throw the question back at you, any programs you see missing from my digital darkroom that I really should have?

Today I’m happy to introduce Flickr Photographer Matthew Youngberg. In this post I’ll share a brief interview with Matthew and will show you a few of his excellent landscape photographs.

1) How did you get involved in photography?

I always enjoyed photography, but never got serious
until last year. I still have so much to learn, but I feel I’ve made a lot of
improvement already.

2) What attracts you to landscape photography over other types of photography?

I love the outdoors, even though I’m a city guy. I
think nature is more aesthetically pleasing than anything humankind can
produce. Plus it’s great to get out in nature, especially places more out of
the way and quiet.

3) What is your favorite camera/lens combo for landscape photography?

My only camera right now is the Sony NEX 5R and I like
using the Zeiss 24MM most of the time. It seems to be the way I see and I
usually only change it because I physically can’t get to the proper position
for the shot.

4) What post-processing software do you use and what steps do you follow in your post-processing workflow?

I’m using Apeture currently and I’m still deciding
on software for HDR or whether I want to use it. I usually tweak the shadow and
highlight sliders along with saturation and vibrancy. I try not to do too much,
as there is a fine line where you can go overboard, especially with HDR. Plus
I’ll crop and/or retouch where necessary.

5) What tips would you offer to the rookie landscape photographer?

  • Tripod, tripod, tripod. It doesn’t take that much more
    time or weight.
  • A circular polarizer and graduated neutral density filters
    are quite helpful and can cut down post production time.
  • Use colored filtersfor black and white.
  • Look out for the smaller scenes as well, nature has so much to show.

I want to thank Matthew for his willingness to do the interview and to let me share a few of his photos. I look forward to highlighing more of his beautiful landscape images on my blog in the near future.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
Today I wanted to share some gorgeous black and white landscape photos from David Gregg. Make sure you check out David’s Flickr page.
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
Today I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Photographer Ed Boudreau. Ed features some of his great landscape photography on ViewBug. One of his landscape shots is above, and a couple more are shown at the end of this post. (You can see his ViewBug profile for more examples of his work.) I especially appreciate Ed’s mountain photography.

Here is the interview I had with Ed:

1) How did you get involved in photography?  

My Father used to have a dark room in our cellar and I was always fascinated with how he was able to produce images, but I really did not get too involved until after I retired from the Air Force back in 2010.  Having the free time and living in Alaska has allowed me to get out and explore and learn.

2) What is your favorite camera/lens combo?  

For awhile I was hooked on using my 16-35 L on my Canon 5D MarkIII, I really enjoyed trying to capture the full DOF it offered.  Then I started really concentrating on landscape photography and use my 28-105 L for most of those shots…especially when I produce panoramic images.

3) What software do you use for post-processing? What is your post-processing workflow?

I do most of my post processing in Aperture and use FXPro plug-ins (color,b&w and sometimes HDR) as well as noiseware and I am just getting the hang of masking through CS6.

4) What tips would you offer to rookie photographers?

Great question and kinda hard for me to answer as I feel I am still that rookie…Best advice I would give is… Shoot what you want and be honest with yourself, and when setting up a shot, take some time to look behind you.  Some of my favorite shot are those I did not intend to get.

5) If you could change one thing about your own photography, what would it be?

Stepping out of my comfort zone (landscape, as I’m usually the only one out there) and try shooting more abstract, macro and people.

6) What type of photography technology most excites you?

Though way out of my price range, I would love the chance to try Gigapanning.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Today I’m pleased to post a short interview with David Gregg. I enjoy the beautiful landscape photography that David posts on Flickr. Check out David’s Flickr page for yourself.

Here is the interview:

 1) How did you get involved in photography?
 

I’ve had a fascination with cameras and photography as long as I can remember. I was still in my single digits when I was given my first film camera. In my late teens, I bought a Minolta SLR. I soon after I became addicted to capturing images of the mountains, deserts, and coastal regions here in southern California. I spent much of my time taking road trips and hiking; so the outdoors became the primary subject of my photos. I loved being able to capture the sights and feelings I experienced at these places because, in essence, the photos allowed me to relive the experiences as often as I desired.

Over the years I also gravitated toward abandoned, deserted places (probably because they often tell a visual story). Southern California has a lot of desert land. And there are a lot of dry, barren locations where people have tried, for some odd reason, to set up homes, only to be driven away by the harsh elements. I’m fascinated by what compelled these indivduals to move to such unfriendly environs. There’s also a sense of comical irony. For example, the fact that a surprisingly large percentage of these pioneers brought boats with them to the desert. I love roaming along lonely highways that are peppered with deteriorating dwellings, rusted appliances, and other abandoned dreams.

As a result of these quests, I’ve developed somewhat of an obsession with photography. And it gets stronger every time I capture a photo that evokes new feelings.

 2) What is your favorite camera/lens combo?
 

A little over a year ago I purchased a Nikon d800 and I love it. It’s an amazing camera! When I go on a shoot, I typically use 2 lenses, almost exclusively. My default lens is the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom. It produces images that are very crisp and sharp. The quality of the glass provides vivid color; and there’s very little distortion considering the range. Then, for close ups and tighter shots I turn to the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens. Both of these lenses perform very well with the D800. Of course I still keep mid-range and telephoto lenses within reach, but they don’t get used nearly as often as the other two.

 3) What software do you use for post-processing? What is your post-processing workflow?
 

I do all of my workflow processing in Adobe Lightroom. It’s very intuitive; and the program’s adjustment and editing controls have evolved very nicely over the years. Lightroom does a great job of fine-tuning and processing the heavy-duty RAW files that the d800 puts out. I import the RAW files into Lightroom from their original folders and rely heavily on the available filters and labels to quickly and easily determine which of the huge files get developed versus being placed onto the B or C lists of pending files that might eventually be migrated over to tiffs or jpgs.

I own a number of additional Lightroom plug-ins for post-processing. The programs I use most frequency, by far, are Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro (originally by NIK—now owned by Google). I’m amazed at the excellent job Silver Efex Pro performs when it comes to emulating the look and feel of film. It also provides very nice toning features.

For colored shots I really like using the tonal contrast feature in Color Efex Pro. It allows me to fine tune dynamic range in subtle ways that can give photos the clarity and depth of HDR, without the super-saturated overkill to which so many photographers fall prey.

 4) What tips would you offer to rookie photographers?
 

There are 3 things I’ve learned in recent years that I wish I had known at the beginning of my photographic journey:

1] Allow the picture to present itself. In 2013 I participated in a 365 project. Every photo was not a masterpiece. (In fact, most of them have now been permanently removed from public viewing.) However, I learned a lot during that year. The best lesson I learned was that there is a photo in almost any setting; you just need to look for it. Whether you’re hiking through a forest, driving home from work, or sitting on your livingroom sofa, you are surrounded by a multitude of photographic possibilities. I found if I open my eyes to new and sometimes unconventional perspectives, worthwhile photo subjects will inevitably present themselves to me. I learned that great photos are lurking out there—we just need to uncover them. More often than not, they’re right in from t of our eyes. Once you find them, applying some photographic skill, patience, and discernment can give you the ability to create a hidden masterpiece.

2] Find the intangible qualities in your subjects. It’s easy to point a camera toward a subject and click the shutter. However, what makes a photo truly memorable is not the result of capturing the tangible objects you see I the viewfinder—it’s the emotion and feeling you capture in the frame. Think about how your photo subject makes you feel. Then use elements like exposure, composition, and lighting to translate that feeling into a photographic image. Granted, this is not an easy task; but I believe that once this skill is developed you can create truly powerful photos that will differentiate your work the other of images that are out there competing for the attentions of the masses.

3] Forge friendships with others with similar photographic skills. I have a couple of photo buddies for whom I have a huge amount of respect. They’ve played a key role in my personal improvement—and I believe I have in theirs. Friendly, constructive competition is extremely helpful when it comes to spurring people to reach new milestones. During photo shoots with friends, they will frequently take shots that I am extremely jealous over. I will then raise the bar for myself which often results in capturing images in which they are envious. It’s a healthy cycle. It also is very educational because I’m constantly asking them, “How did you get that shot?” I’ve gained great insights and new perspectives on our photo excursions by looking at photos my friends have captured that I missed entirely at the time.

5) If you could change one thing about your own photography, what would it be?

There are actually two things that I would change; and they’re closely related. If possible I would increase the available time and resources that I can dedicate to my photography. If I could I would spend all of my time traveling (with my wife, of course) to scenic locations armed with a battery of photographic lenses and equipment at my disposal. Currently, photo trips are definitely too few and far between for my liking. And in terms of equipment, my wish list is way to long to ever be obtainable.

6) Are there any new photography technologies that really excite you?
 

I suppose the most exciting changes are associated with the rapid acceleration of quality among “prosumer” cameras. Until recently, cameras with the resolution and sophistication of my Nikon D800 were religated only to professional photographers and/or very wealthy hobbyists. The fact that Nikon, Canon, and other camera makers are placing these new, high-performing cameras on the market at somewhat affordable prices is very exciting. I can hardly wait to see what will come out next!

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Today I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Photographer Luke Mackenzie. Luke features some of his great landscape photography on ViewBug. One of his landscape shots is above, and a couple more are shown at the end of this post. (You can see his ViewBug profile for more examples of his work.)  Luke has some great wave photos!

Here is the interview I had with Luke:

1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I was in the Navy for 4 and a half years and when I started to travel overseas with work the best advice I got was “take a camera”.

I had a point and shoot, but when I got over to the Middle East for the first time my little camera just couldn’t do the amazing scenery justice. Nor had I any idea at the time how to take a photo.

A couple of years later when I went again, I bought a better camera which was my first SLR (Canon 600D) and started to take more and more photos.

When I returned to the Middle East, I kept taking photos. People seemed to be like the photos. At the start of 2015 I really started to take my photography seriously. I upgraded to a Canon 7D Mk II and began taking a lot of photos.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

When I started traveling I wanted to be able to capture what I was seeing and bring it back home or post it online for people to see.

I love the challenge of trying to get a shot and making it appear how I saw it at the time.

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

My favorite camera is definitely my Canon 7D. I also recently purchased a 14mm f/2.8L II lense. The difference in that compared to my other lenses was insane! When you take the same photo on that lens then another lens you can straight away see the difference in the colours, lighting & crispness of the shot.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

Take your time! Walk around the area, look at things from a few different angles then set up your shot and use the rule of thirds.

Also, I’ve realised lately how important good lighting is for a good photo. Going out at the golden hour at sunrise and sunset just makes the photo so much better.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

The software I use for my post processing is Lightroom and also a program called Affinity for the Mac.

6) What is your secret to the curling wave photos?

No secret really, I have a pair of fins, a wetsuit, and a housing for my camera. I swim out and get in the right spot where the wave will break over my head.

It takes a lot of practice though. When I first started out, I kept getting waves to the face and thrown over the falls. But it’s what made that type of photography more fun and challenging.

Today I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Nina Irvin, a photographer I found on Viewbug. Nina kindly agreed to do an interview for the blog. Here is the interview:

1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I’ve had a love for photography most of my life as my mother was a wonderful photographer in her own right during the 35mm film days. When I was a child our family spent many vacations traveling around the country enjoying beautiful vistas, particularly in the southwest…so I grew up knowing the difference between “snapshots” and “photographs”. However, it wasn’t until about 4 years ago when I was finely able to afford really decent camera equipment that the quality of my photography dramatically improved…that and the addition of good editing software.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

I love to travel and to be outdoors, so landscape photography fits into that niche nicely. There are beautiful landscapes almost anyhwhere, and I pride myself on seeing things that perhaps others might not. Photographing landscapes allows me to capture the wonderful things I see so that I can take them home with me. I have a particular love for ocean and sunset photography, mainly because the “mood” of those subjects is constantly changing. And even better, landscapes usually require no special lighting equipment or makeup, and most of the time they stay in one place!

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

I recently upgraded to a Nikon D750 DSLR and absolutely love it. Despite the infinite buttons, dials and menus, it’s intuitive and fairly easy to master. I just recently purchased what I consider to be my “all around” lens: a Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. It has the versatility to be a great wide angle lens and powerful enough to zoom in on that elusive animal off in the distance.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

Landscape photographers often have the advantage of returning to a particular location at different times of the day (or night) in order to capture a scene under different lighting or weather conditions. However, since you can’t always count on a sunset, or beautiful clouds in the distance, or a sky that isn’t dull and gray, there is a lot of luck involved as well, not to mention patience! Shooting ocean scenes either in the early morning or late afternoon almost always, in my opinion, provide the absolute best lighting, which in turn reduces the amount of post processing that would otherwise be required to make an average photo into a great photo worthy of hanging on a wall. It’s also important to note here that when shooting in low light conditions, a tripod is an absolute must. It is virtually impossible to get clear, good quality photos if you are trying to shoot handheld after the sun has gone down.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

After downloading my photos (always onto a 2 tb external hard drive), I always cull my photos and delete those that just aren’t good candidates for editing, usually due to poor composition or other factors. The ones I feel to be of “editable quality” I put into a separate folder of their own. I almost always start editing in Lightroom where I adjust for exposure, contrast, clarity, shadows, etc. (I am still currently using Lightroom 4 which I feel does everything I need it to do). I then send the photo into Photoshop (I use CS6) where I do most of my final editing. Lately, I’ve also been experimenting with compositional layering and photo artistry, so depending on the photo I might go a step further and do some fine tuning using the Topaz filters. The Topaz modules are powerful editing tools that I feel are worth mentioning because oftentimes they can help further elevate your post processed image.

6) What is your secret to the beautiful beach photos?

The photo of the foamy waves was taken late one afternoon on a small, infrequently visited beach near Santa Cruz, California. The beach is surrounded by high rocky bluffs on both sides which force the waves onto the narrow sandy beach area, often creating an opportunity for some wonderful surf shots. On this particular day, we just happened to be there when the surf had created wonderful sea foam. The harmless foam, we later learned, was caused by decaying organic matter (and most likely the dead algae blooms that have plagued the Pacific coast for several months) that mixed with the salt water and was then churned up by the heavy seas from recent storms. It’s a phenomenon that isn’t very common and was a sign that the ocean ecosystem was returning to a healthy state. It never seemed to do the same thing twice. It was just by chance that I was able to capture this “angle” shot of the foam when the retreating water was forcing it back to the surf line. The photo was taken handheld without a tripod. There was still plenty of light so with my ISO at 1000 I set my camera on manual an used an aperture setting of f/11 and shutter speed of 400. The sky was still a bit stormy looking but I was pleased when some natural light rays played on the rock stacks at the surf line. I did some minimal post processing in Lightroom with this shot to bring out the hint of color in the sky, and to add a bit more contrast and clarity to emphasize the foam.

The photo of the beach with the shell was taken in Maui on a very warm September morning…I purposely got up early so that I could photograph the beach without having to worry about any people wandering into my shots. I took this opportunity to use my tripod so I could use a slow shutter speed and my circular ND filter in order to get the best light, color and the soft, almost ethereal mood of the breaking waves in my photo.  This shot was taken at f/22 at an 1/8 of a second using an ISO of 100.  For effect, I layered the seashell onto the beach during post processing as I felt it made the scene more interesting.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Today I’m pleased to share with my readers an interview with photographer Kathy Kuhn. I’ve admired several landscape photos that Kathy has posted on Viewbug, including the one you see above. You can view Kathy’s Viewbug profile here.

Here is my interview with Kathy:


1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I started photography when I got my first film camera at age 10.  Because I got the camera right after my youngest sister was born, for several years I thought I was only supposed to take pictures of her!  I learned the basics of composing a shot and the importance of being close enough to get subject’s face and expression.  Of course, I was parsimonious about how many pictures I took since it was film and I had to earn the money to pay to develop it.  That also meant most of my photos were on black and white film (this was cheaper).  When I was 18, I met my husband who had a Nikon F Camera.  I immediately adopted his camera, which was a big jump up from my box camera.  That is the camera I used as we raised our family.

About 12 years ago, my youngest sister got me to start trying my hand at digital photography, joining her on various on-line sites.  It took a year or 2 for me to really convert, but by 10 years ago, I was only shooting digital.  I loved taking macro shots of the many small and large spring flowers in my garden.  I had always carried our old Nikon on backpacking trips & hikes, and so also moved to landscape photography with digital.  Basically I live to be outside, and photography gave me another excuse to be out and about.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

As I mentioned, I just love being outdoors.  I love the play of light through the clouds, the trees, the leaves, the mountains, across water and snow.  I love the curves, lines and repetition of shapes in the natural world.  I love finding patterns in apparent chaos, finding a means to compose a shot that brings one particular aspect of the landscape into center stage.  I love the colors, light and dark, shadows and the flow of the land, water and sky.  I am alive outdoors, and there is always something I can find to shoot.  The possibilities are endless.

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

For most of my life I’ve shot one Nikon or another, going back to the old Nikon F Camera.  I love my Nikon D300 — just a great workhorse of a camera and very versatile with the 18-200mm lens.  But a little over a year ago I wanted a camera that was lighter than my Nikon D300 or D610, so I decided to try the Sony a7ii (mirrorless).  I love it!  It’s much more portable than the Nikon, has great color, is intuitive to learn to shoot moving from the Nikon and is a great all-around camera.  My favorite lens with the Sony is the 24-240mm, which like the 18-200 for the Nikon, gives me great variability of range, from very wide angle to a good zoom.  I just used it as my primary camera on a trip to Costa Rica where I was routinely shooting at ISO 6400 and it performed wonderfully with very little noise.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

The best way to get good landscape shots is to first choose early morning or late afternoon/evening light.  Mid-day is harsh and won’t show any landscape to advantage.  Besides lighting, you want to scout a location to try to find a good composition.  I look for diagonal lines drawing your eye to your chosen main subject, or repetition of objects (leaves, branches, trunks, rocks etc.), and always try to find a way to convey depth by having a foreground as well as middle and far distances.  Sometimes the foreground will be the subject and sometimes it will merely set the stage for the subject.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

Generally I download after a shooting expedition and do a cursory run through the images, tagging those that look promising to work on.  Then I go back and zoom in on ones I’ve tagged to make sure the crucial areas are sharp.  When I’ve chosen an image, I open in RAW, make my adjustments, then open in Photoshop.  I often use Nik filters.  Sometimes I use texture layers, though less often for landscapes.  Very occasionally I use Topaz filters.  Occasionally I use a couple of exposures and manually create an HDR image, or I use Photomatix.  But generally, I prefer the simpler work flow of non-HDR images.

I'm a hard core Star Wars fan. (The new Han Solo movie was definitely the best so far!) In this post I want to share my favorite Han Solo images from Artstation for January 2019.

The images are from the following artists:


In this post I wanted to highlight a few beautiful graphic design work from that was posted on Dribble this past week. The first two are logo proposals for a real estate company by Steve Wolf. I love both these logos for their simplicity and clean geometric forms. They also both convey the familiar concept of a home in their shapes. The bottom logo makes a cool use of negative space.

The next set of logos by William Kesling feature clean geometric forms and simple animations.

Here are two more clean and simple logo designs by Steve Wolf.

I hope you enjoyed these examples of graphic design work by William and Steve. Make sure you check out their Dribble profiles using the links in this post.

My wife and I recently took a trip through the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. It was over 100 degrees and the sun was blazing, but I managed to get a few good up-close landscape photos. I wanted to share a few of those with you. Don't forget: You can download almost all of my photos for free in high-resolution from Unsplash.

This park is dog-friendly and a great place to visit if you are ever driving through Central Arizona on Interstate 40.

Landon

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've updated my "Exploring The Outdoors" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web-site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Exploring The Earth" collection features explorers and outdoor athletes in natural beauty. These photos are taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've updated my "Cities" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Cities" collection features beautiful landscape photos of cities from around the world. This post has a few of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've updated my "Open Road" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Open Road" collection features beautiful landscape photos of lonley and winding roads from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. (Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I wanted to highlight 4 great free fonts for July 2018. All four of the fonts were featured on Behance. The four fonts are:

  1. MD Tall
  2. Panagram Sans
  3. Noway Round
  4. Sphere Sans

Click the links in the list above to be taken to the Behance page for each font. You will find download links for the font files on each Behance page. (Make sure you donate to the font designer if you use a font and comply with any font license terms).

You can see images of the fonts in this post below.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've posted 3 new project summaries to the My Projects page of the www.landonblake.com web site. The first two project summaries feature projects I recently completed at Guida Surveying. The first is a boundary survey in the hills just north of Sunol, California. The second is for the design of site improvements on a commercial parcel just south of Highway 101 in Santa Clara. The third project summary I posted was completed while I worked as the Mapping Department Manager at O'Dell Engineering. It was a survey for a fiber optic communication line crossing the Mokelumne River Canyon just east of Highway 49 in Central California.

Landon

I've updated my "Beautiful Earth" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Beautiful Earth" collection features beautiful landscape photos of natural beauty from around the world. These photos are taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

 

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Introduction

I've featured the best 24 paintings of medieval castles on ArtStation in May 2018 in this post. The castle paintings are separated into two main sections. In the first section below I show the best images for mood, structure, use of color, and design. In the second section, I show the images grouped by artist.

ArtStation Portfolio Links

In this list below, you will find the links to all of the ArtStation Portfolios for all of the artists that have castle paintings I've featured in this post.

The Top 4 Castle Paintings On ArtStation

Best Castle Paining For Mood

I've selected the castle painting below by Thomas Dubois for the best painting that establishes a mood.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Best Castle Paining For Structure

I've selected the castle painting by Andreas Rocha as the one that shows the most interesting architectural structure.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Best Castle Paining Use Of Color

I've selected the castle painting by Lloyd Allen as the best use of color/application of a color theme.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

Best Castle Paining For Design

I've selected the castle painting by Roderick Fernandes as the best design sketch/design concept.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

The Other Paintings

Below I've included the other 17 of the best castle paintings on ArtStation.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I wanted to share the cool science fiction art of David Stirzaker in this post. David has a profile up at ArtStation. In the images below, you can see images of a space station created by David, as well as images of a spacecraft he designed.

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've updated my "Backgrounds and Textures" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Backgrounds and Textures" collection features beautiful photos that can serve as backgrounds or textures in graphic design projects. These photos are taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've updated my "Awesome Peaks" Collection on Unsplash with several new photos. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Awesome Peaks" collection features beautiful photos of mountain peaks taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

Please note: The resolution of the images in these posts have been reduced for viewing on the web. Visit my collections on Unsplash to download the high-resolution original versions.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

My wife Monique and I took a trip a couple of months ago to Las Vegas, Nevada so I could speak at the NALS surveying conference. We snaked down Highway 88 and Highway 395 on our trip to the Conference. I took time to grab some landscape photos of the desert mountains along Highway 168 and Highway 266. I've attached the photos in this post. The photos on the bottom are the painted versions I created in Topaz Labs software.

I'm trying to regularly feature great artist profiles on ArtStation (and graphic designer profiles on Behance) on my web site. For the month of May, I'm highlighting the ArtStation profile of Vadim Sadovski. Vadim has beautiful art of planets and galaxies, as you can see from the images included in this post. Check out Vadim Sadovski's ArtStation Profile for more examples.

The Artstation Artist Profile I've selected for December 2017 is Jinsung Lim. Jingsung has some amazing painted portraits on hist Artstation profile. I've included some samples of his paintings in this post.

Jimsung also includes timelapse videos of his paintings on his Youtube channel.

Jimsung shows great artistic talent!

Make sure you check out his work on Artstation!

Landon

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

After hearing an Econtalk podcast with Ryan Holiday on recognizing the contributions that others make to our success, I resolved to regularly consider men and women in my life who helped me reach important accomplishments or develop as a professional. Today I want to recognize my mentor Kris Nehmer.

Introduction

I started working with Kris as soon as I graduated from college, in the Spring of 2003. At the time, Kris was the second-in-command for the land surveying department at KSN Engineers, in Stockton, California. Since that time, the company has grown with an additional office in West Sacramento, and Kris now manages all of the land surveying operations at KSN.

What Kris Taught Me

Kris Nehmer is the licensed land surveyor who mostly strongly influenced my own development as a professional (followed in a close second place by Brett Setness). It was Kris who taught me the majority of my office skills as a land surveyor. Things I learned from Kris included:

  1. How to use AutoCAD.
  2. How to process and adjust raw survey field data.
  3. How to manage a project.
  4. How to prepare a proposal (including a scope-of-services and fee estimate).

Kris Nehmer is the licensed land surveyor who mostly strongly influenced my own development as a professional.

A Geodesy Master

Kris is also (in my opinion) the best geodetic surveyor west of the Mississippi River. I was blessed to have an opportunity to learn from a land surveyor with a superb understanding of GNSS and geodetic control surveys. No one else can explain the challenges of datum conversions between NGVD 29 and NAVD 88 like Kris. The quality that sets Kris apart form other geodetic surveyors is his emphasis on the practical and pragmatic. Kris showed me how to take the academic concepts of geodesy and apply them to real world land surveying to get stuff built. I had a fantastic opportunity to learn geodesy from a great teacher and man who valued the need to accomplish real work every day.

The quality that sets Kris apart form other geodetic surveyors is his emphasis on the practical and pragmatic. Kris showed me how to take the academic concepts of geodesy and apply them to real world land surveying to get stuff built.

The Most Important Thing I Learned From Kris

The excellent grasp of Geodesy isn't the most important element of what Kris taught me. The most important thing I learned from Kris was how to show a real personal interest in your employees. From the very beginning, I could see that Kris was sincerely committed to my growth and success as a land surveyor. He never held back his knowledge from me. He regularly met to help me study for the land surveying licensing exam. He gently prodded me to achieve professional goals. He fully supported my effort to become a Certified Federal Surveyor.

I had never been asked that sort of question, or had any boss concerned about my progress in that way.

One of my most memorable visits with Kris was the first time he sat me down in his office and asked me to define a list of professional goals for the following calendar year. I had never been asked that sort of question, or had any boss concerned about my progress in that way. It is a quality that I try to imitate in my own land surveying practice now, and a question I will never forget.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kris has played a key role in making KSN a success civil engineering and land surveying company. The land surveying profession is blessed to have a mentor and teacher like Kris in their ranks. I was blessed to spend the first 12 years of my career learning from men like Kris Nehmber, Brent Boitano, and Brett Setness.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kris has played a key role in making KSN a success civil engineering and land surveying company.

Kris is a good husband, good father, good manager and a great land surveyor. He has claim to a huge part of my professional success.

Landon

 

 

Over the next few months I hope to feature a few of the great designer profiles on Dribble. This month I'm starting with the designer profile of HolyPix, a video production company. They've got great videos that feature simple and easily understood graphics. You can see a few examples in this post. Make sure you visit the HolyPix profile on Dribble to see more examples.

Landon

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've added several new images to my "Awesome Peaks" collection on Unsplash. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My "Awesome Peaks" collection features beautiful photos of mountain peaks taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

This month I'd like to feature the designer profile of Jing Zhang on Behance. I wanted to feature Jing's profile because I love here work on technical illustrations and diagrams. She has great "flat" illustrations and isometric illustrations. I've shown some of here work in this post. Make sure you check out her profile on Behance.

Landon

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've added several new images to my "Scrapers" collection on Unsplash. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My Scrapers collection features beautiful photos of skyscrapers, immense buildings, and other architecture taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]

ArtStation is a web site for digital artists. Its got lots of great Star Wars fan art. I'm going to try to post featured Star Wars fan art from ArtStation each month. This month (December 2017) I'm featuring 5 photos from 5 different artists:

  1. Andrew Bosley
  2. Victor Perez
  3. Bastien Grivet
  4. John Burns
  5. Brian Maytas

If you click on their names in the list above you will be taken to their ArtStation profile.

I'm excited to share more Star Wars fan art over the next few months. If you've got Star Wars fan art you'd like to feature on my blog, please contact me to share!

Landon

[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="WP_Widget_Media_Image"][/siteorigin_widget]

I've added several new images to my "Beautiful Earth" collection on Unsplash. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My Beautiful Earth collection features gorgeous landscape photographs taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

[siteorigin_widget class="WP_Widget_Media_Image"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="WP_Widget_Media_Image"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="WP_Widget_Media_Image"][/siteorigin_widget]
[siteorigin_widget class="WP_Widget_Media_Image"][/siteorigin_widget]

The latest HBR Management Tip of the day has good advice on helping your remote workers. This basically involves regular communication and monitoring. Here is an excerpt from the tip:

One of the challenges of managing people from afar is having a good sense of how they’re performing. Virtual workers may be more prone to loneliness and loss of motivation, which can result in compromised performance. Since you don’t usually get the opportunity to pick up visual cues or have impromptu conversations with remote employees, make an extra effort to see how they’re doing. Stay alert for signs of burnout by checking in regularly.

I've personally experienced the challenges that come with managing remote workers. In my experience these, remote workers suffer more frequently than your on-site team members from a few specific problems. These problems are :

  1. Feeling left out of important programs or activities.
  2. Feeling like their contributions go unnoticed.
  3. Feeling like they aren't a valued part of the team.

Managers can also mistakenly underestimate the work being done by remote workers. I tell my remote workers to prevent this by sending a regular e-mail to their team at the beginning of each week that outlines what they will be working on for that week. This helps the remote worker show regular progress on tasks, opens the door for collaboration, and reminds the team of their contributions.

Landon

I've selected a set of the best free fonts for 2017. There are 8 fonts I've chosen. They can all be downloaded for free or for a small donation to the designer. Here is the list:

  1. Humger Font
  2. Monk Font
  3. Delicia Melted Font
  4. Somatic
  5. Decalotype
  6. Friedrichshain
  7. Bravo

The font shown in the image above is Humgar. The fonts shown at the left (or below) are Decalotype and Bravo.

I hope to highlight the fonts on this list in my future design work on this web page.

Landon

I've created a new collection on Unsplash for my top picks from the set of my own photos taken in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most of these photos were taken along highway 88, Highway 4, and Highway 108 in Eastern California and Western Nevada. (In this post are 3 photos from that collection.)

Unsplash is a great place to get high resolution photography free from copyright. I've got several collections there. One is my collection for landscape photos on Unsplash called "Beautiful Earth". I wanted to share a couple of my recent additions to this collection. The images are below.

If are a fan of photography or graphic design, make sure you check out Unsplash!

Landon

Econtalk, my all-time favorite podcast, had an episode in July with guest Ryan Holiday that talked about the need for humility and a recognition that others contribute a great deal to what we are able to accomplish.

After I heard that podcast I resolved to regularly think about and recognize how others have helped me be successful as a land surveyor (which is how I provide materially for my family). I hoped this would be a concrete effort on my part to cultivate a little more humility, which is a quality I could certainly practice more. In my last post on this topic, I recognized my dad Randy Blake for the training he gave me. In this post, I'd like to thank and recognize my friend and land surveying mentor Brent Boitano.

I started working with Brent as a rodman on a 2 man survey field crew right out of college. I was eager to learn and wanted to work hard, but I didn't have a clue about how to do my job. Brent was an outstanding survey party chief. He was also a hard worker and had high expectations for me. His high expectations were tempered with a willingness to teach me. Everything I have learned about being a good field surveyor, I learned from Brent Boitano. This includes the simplest things, like how to paint and flag stakes, to the complicated, like how to select the best control layout and survey method to execute a field survey. Brent also taught me how to search for property corner monuments, a skill that is easily underestimated by people outside of the land surveying profession. As a property corner monument hound, Brent Boitano is second to none. He was always willing to dig that hole in 105-degree summer heat to find the monument they needed back in the office.

My CAD skills and comfort with a computer meant I had less time as Brent's rodman than I should have. I was quickly moved into the office, or running a field crew of my own. I wish I could have benefited from more time as his rodman.

Almost a decade later, Brent and I had the chance to work together again. He joined my team as my field crew coordinator at O'Dell Engineering. It was a tremendous pleasure it was to have an old friend at my side once again. I'll never forget that.

Brent has always put my interests ahead of his own. He has also always offered honest advice. I've seen him willing to risk his own life to save mine in dangerous situations. I'll be eternally grateful that I had Brent as my first party chief. Many surveyors don't get that type of privilege on their first gig painting stakes, charging batteries, and pounding wooden hubs.

If you are a party chief today, follow Brent's example. Work hard. Set high expectations. Patiently teach. Put the welfare of your coworkers ahead of your own. Most importantly: Be a good friend. Your rodman will never forget that, no matter where he ends up in life or career.

Landon

I recently took on the role as chairperson of the ACEC California Land Use Committee. I'm looking for a volunteer intern that can help me run the committee. The intern would assist with the following tasks:

  1. Tracking local and state legislation related to land use planning and CEQA.
  2. Tracking California court decisions related to land use planning and CEQA.
  3. Organizing feedback from ACEC California members on land use planning policies and decisions that impact their projects and businesses.
  4. Interview local government officials and other land use planning experts on legislation and policy.
  5. Help develop ACEC policy statements related to land use planning and environmental issues.
  6. Preparing for committee meetings.
  7. Preparing meeting minutes.
  8. Preparing a regular newsletter.
  9. Maintaining the ACEC land use committee web site.

This would be a great position for a land use planning, land surveying, or geography student that wanted a bit of practical experience with public policy and research. If you are interested in volunteering, please send a resume and short cover letter to landon.blake@redefinedhorizons.com or lblake@hawkins-eng.com.

Thanks!

Landon

 

Today’s world of social media and personal branding can lead a person to become too focused on their own skills, abilities and I occasionally catch myself failing into this trap. I was recently inspired by a couple of podcasts to make a practice of applying more humility in my own life. This includes recognizing the role others have played in my modest success as a professional and a land surveyor. (The first podcast that inspired me is entitled “Robert Frank on Success and Luck”. The second was entitled “Ryan Holiday on Ego".)

I’d like to buy out a few moments a couple times each month to deliberately practice the quality of humility, and the recognition of others. (This could be important accomplishments by others or their role in my own success.)
I wanted to start this new habit with a short post about the most important influences in my professional life.

  • I’ll start with my wife Monique Blake. She plays the most important role in tactfully pointing out my personality flaws and encouraging me to reflect the conduct of the man she loves. No other person has a bigger impact on my effort to be a good and kind human being.
  • My mother Julie Blake and my father Randy Blake both had a huge role in shaping the professional I am today. My mom taught me a love of reading and instilled strong moral values. My father taught me how to be a hard worker, how to walk like a man, and how to defend and protect those people placed under my care. My father also showed me an example of a worker that strived to be the best at his practiced craft. (My dad was, arguably, one of the best heavy equipment operators and heavy construction foreman on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.)
  • Dave Dorsett and Bob Beall were my professors in college. Dave accomplished the impossible task of helping me to acquire a love of mathematics and to see that it was a practical tool. He also taught me how to research, understand, and apply common law. Bob Beall introduced me to photogrammetry and GIS.
  • Darrel Ramus, Kris Nehmer and Brett Setness were my supervisors at KSN and my most important professional mentors. Kris Nehmer taught me all I know about geodesy and geodetic control, including how to read and NGS datasheet and the difference between NAVD 88 and NGVD 29. He also taught me the basics of proposal writing and introduced me to business development. Brett Setness taught me how to be a boundary surveyor, which included how to read and interpret land descriptions. He also beat out of me the desire to completely upend long-established neighborhoods with my boundary surveys. (Brett did some nurturing of my inner conservative as well.) Chris Neudeck, one of the owners at KSN, introduced me to the system of levees in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and showed me how to be an expert witness. Chris Martin, a land surveyor at KSN, allowed me to experience being a teacher and mentor.
  • Randy O’Dell, the owner of O’Dell Engineering, showed me what it meant to be a civil engineer that understand and respect the land surveyors he works with. He moral values and character are second to no other engineer. He demonstrated to me what careful and thoughtful business decision making looked like. Dylan Crawford and Chad Kennedy, also members of the leadership team at O’Dell Engineering, showed me what a real business development and marketing program looked like, and allowed me to participate in it. Dylan Crawford also gave me an opportunity to grow as a leader and to learn difficult lessons about managing a large and geographically distributed team of land surveyors.
  • Finally, I’d like to thank Russ Roberts, the host of EconTalk, a free podcast on economics. More than any other person he has explained to me how the world around us really works, has made me a better business man, and has given me a love of economics. If you haven’t listened to his weekly podcast, you are wasting your commute time.

Look for more posts in the near future about the impact others have had on my life and on the great things they have accomplished.

Landon

I ran across a couple of posts on Pinterest that featured a few interesting online graphic design resources. I wanted to share three of them with you:

1) Wordmark.it is a web site that shows you a preview of all the fonts installed on your computer. This is helpful when you can't remember the name of the font you want to use, but will recognize its glyphs.

2) Coolors.co is a color scheme generator. My favorite part of this tool is the refine toolbar that lets you adjust the generated color scheme by hue, temperature, saturation or brightness.

3) Lost Type Co-Op is a font foundry that offers some great looking fonts for a reasonable price. The fonts aren't free, but if you want to support a few skilled font designers and get some great fonts in return, this is the first place I'd visit on the web.

Landon

I just posted a brief summary of the OSGeo California Chapter 2015 Annual Meeting to the OSGeo California Chapter web site. The post includes links to slide images, audio files and video files.

I'd like to thank Alex Mandel, Michele Tobias and the UC Davis Center for Spatial Sciences for hosting our meeting again this year!

Landon

A few days ago I attended the February meeting of the Western Region Height Modernization Group. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  1. ITRF 2014 was released last month and will be used in the future by NGS to adjust CORS coordinates in the United States.
  2. A beta version of Opus Projects that may be used as an alternative to the old bluebooking process for control monuments may be released by NGS this fall.
  3. NGS will be holding a "gravity school" from May 23, 2016 to May 27, 2016 in Colorado.
  4. NGS is holding a webinar to prepare volunteers for the 2016 GPS on Benchmarks Campaign. The webinar will be held on February 17th.
  5. The meeting concluded with a presentation by Derek VanWestrum about testing the new NGS gravity models in the Mountains of Colorado.

I hope you enjoy the links. I'll post more information and links from the Western Region Height Modernization Group as appropriate.

Landon

I’m pleased to announce the release of Grassy Hills Slides Template. Grassy Hills is a free SVG slide template created in (and designed for editing in) Inkscape. (Inkscape is an open source vector graphics program for the desktop.) Grassy Hills is based on a simple grid layout and contains 5 slide examples in SVG. The slides feature a unique color scheme and use the Google Web Fonts Alegraya and Alegraya Sans.

Melon Slides is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. That means you are free to modify the work and use it for commercial purposes.

There is an online folder where you can download all of the SVG files for Melon Slides.

 

You can also view the Grassy Hills Slides Template on my Behance Profile and on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the template. If you have suggestions to improve it, or examples of how it has been used, please contact me!

Landon

The October 2015 Issue of Software Development Times Magazine has an article entitled "Drones: The Sky's The Limit" that talks about trends in software development for drones. One trend of note in the article is the emergence of Linux as the operating system of choice for drone hardware. According to the article, drone control systems are moving towards integration with Linux. The open source software community for drones is even gaining some formal structure. Dronecode is an open source UAV platform within the Linux Foundation.

Rock on Linux. Glad to see your being used on board drones!

Landon

The November 2015 Issue of Inc Magazine has a couple of interesting observations about the relationship between employees and employers in our modern economy.

The first observation is this: "Odds are, you started your company because you wanted to drive your own destiny, or because you had an idea you just had to try, or because you saw an opportunity for financial success and grabbed it. It wasn't because you wanted to be responsible for a bunch of other people's well-being. But like it or not, that's what you've become."

This observation touches on a powerful truth: It is very hard to run a successful business in our modern economy without accepting a serious responsibility to care for the needs of the people that work for you. Time and again I see business owners who fail to accept this responsibility, to the detriment of their organizations and their communities.

The article goes on to mention an argument of Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford. He says that a willingness to be a good steward of other people's lives" out to be recognized as an essential trait of true leaders.

I couldn't agree more.

Landon

I'm pleased to announce the release of Melon Slides. Melon Slides is a free SVG slide template created in (and designed for editing in) Inkscape. (Inkscape is an open source vector graphics program for the desktop.) Melon Slides is based on a simple grid layout and contains 8 slide examples in SVG. The supporting images used in the slide examples are also provided.

Melon Slides is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. That means you are free to modify the work and use it for commercial purposes.

There is an online folder where you can download all of the SVG files for Melon Slides.

There is an online folder with the supporting images used in the slide examples.

There is an online folder with images of each slide examples in Melon Slides.

You can also view Melon Slides on my Behance Profile and on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the template. If you have suggestions to improve it, or examples of how it has been used, please contact me!

Landon

www.landonblake.com
All Rights Reserved

3938 Kimball Lane
Stockton, California
95206