The 4th of July is a big deal in my wife’s family, and this year, I finally got an opportunity to spend it with them at the lake house in Oregon. It was a ton of fun, and as always, I took a ridiculous number of photos.

When I went to Oregon last year, I did two different posts, and both had really similar things. I worked hard to make all of the photos very similar in their editing styles. This year, I went out of my way to make them as different as possible. I tried a few high speed photos, some extended exposure night photos, a couple flower photos (for my mom’s wall decor), and a few classic lake photos.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any great bird photos this year. I managed to get a few shots of a bald eagle while I was in the boat, but it was a little too far away and underexposed. Oh well. One of these days I will get a good bald eagle photo (preferably as it’s viciously pulling a salmon out of a river with its talons).

One photo that I’m really proud of, however, is this one:

Deep Woods and Sun Flares

If you’re interested in how I created this photo, keep reading. If not, skip down to the good stuff.

For this photo, I wanted to make sure that the details of the moss-covered tree in the foreground were still maintained without the sun on the left side being too blown out. What I did was take two photos of the exact same scene (with a tripod to make sure the camera didn’t move). One photo was darker to decrease the intensity of the sun burst, and the other was lighter to capture all of the detail of the tree including the shadows.

Here’s the lighter original photo (f/6.3, 1/4 s, ISO 100, 18-55@22mm):

Deep Woods and Sun Flares [lighter]And here’s the darker photo (f/6.3, 1/8 s, ISO 100, 18-55@22mm):

Deep Woods and Sun Flares [darker]For those of you familiar with Adobe Photoshop, I created an HDR (High Dynamic Range) composite photo from these two using layer masks. First, I opened the lighter photo in Photoshop (after editing for contrast, clarity, and white balance in Camera RAW) and edited for tree with no regard for how the sunny part of the photo looked. Second, I placed the darker photo directly on top of the lighter photo as a layer mask. With the layer mask, I was able slowly reveal the lighter version of the tree by using a low opacity brush to remove the darker version. I then flattened the image and did quite a bit more editing with colors and contrast.

And so, without further ado (or boring details about photo editing), here are the rest of the photos. I hope you enjoy!