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Brandon Kopp
DC-Based Amateur Photographer (HDR, Travel, Architecture, Landscapes, Macro, and More)
DC-Based Amateur Photographer (HDR, Travel, Architecture, Landscapes, Macro, and More)


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Mabry Mill | Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

One of my favorite experiences from my Fall trips was spending a chilly sunrise at the Mabry Mill along with about 10 other photographers. A couple came and went over that time, but a few, like me, got there well before sunrise and stayed until about an hour after. I took dozens of shots of roughly the same composition, but wanted to make sure I walked away with at least one clean one I could share.

The cool thing here was that the wheel would stop for a couple minutes until it built up enough water to make it turn and dump it's contents. So I tried to get shots of both the steady wheel and the water dump. I preferred this view. It beat the previous night when the wheel turned with just a trickle of water so long exposures ended up with blurry wheel with no payoff of the water.

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Walker Camp Prong | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One shot I knew I had to get in the Smokies was a cascade surrounded by Fall leaves.  The leaves hadn't changed in the lower elevations, but I spotted this scene along the main park road as my friend and I drove back from the Mingus Mill.  We didn't stop right then but I made a mental note to stop back. That night, after a day worth of rain, I headed back up. I shared this small area with about 20 other people, but luckily the slippery rocks scared away enough people for me to get this angle.

#LandscapePhotography   #NationalPark   #GreatSmokyMountains   #FallPhotography   #Fall   #HDR  

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Blue Hen Falls | Cuyahoga Valley National Park

This is a quick video of my experience photographing and filming a beautiful, though dry waterfall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I've made several of these videos now, but this is the first I've thought about ahead of time.

I still have some refining to do. I'm open to suggestions about how I can make them better in the future.

#NationalParks   #LandscapePhotography   #Video

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Boneyard Beach | Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC

Sometimes I take photos with a definite purpose and sometimes I'm just running around trying to capture different compositions before the good light is gone. This photo is one of the latter. I don't remember taking it. There was a month and a half in between me taking it and processing the images into an HDR, but I remembered the photos I took on either side of this one, just not this one.  When this popped up on my screen in Photomatix, I was surprised. I spent a long time playing with the sliders trying to get the lighting right because I knew this was a keeper. It was a difficult one to process because of all of the transitions between light and dark. 

#Seascape   #LandscapePhotography   #Landscape   #Ocean   #Nature   #SouthCarolina  

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Elevation Profile Question

I used to make videos that give a rough idea of what to expect when you visit an iconic photo location (e.g., Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia) or a scenic trail (e.g., Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton).  I am looking to get back to that because I can never find those sorts of things when I'm looking.

One small part of those videos (especially the trail ones) will be an elevation profile to show how daunting a trail might be.  I wrote some code that uses the +Google Maps API to look up the elevation for spots along a trail, which I then plot in Excel. I'm still working on the look and wanted to get your opinion.  

Which of the graphs below do you prefer?  I'll note that these are both pretty "busy" but not everything will be on-screen at once. These will be animated in the video so information is slowly displayed.   Are there things you prefer either one?  

I'd also like to hear any feedback you have about the idea of videos that show basic photography info about photography spots. I'll be going to a number of places this Fall and am planning on putting a few videos together.

Oh, by the way, this is Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park.

Thanks for viewing.

#NationalParks   #Hiking  

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National Park Boundaries | Google Fusion Tables


I upped my mapping game this week with the discovery of Google Fusion Tables. That along with some National Park boundary files I found on resulted in the map pictured below.  I found it very interesting to see the data laid out this way. I wonder why the National Park Service doesn't have an interactive map on their website.  

Feel free to embed the map wherever you like, or merge the boundary data with your own Fusion Table and make something new and interesting.

#NationalParks   #Mapping   #Data   #DataDotGov  

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Smoky Mountain Map


I enjoy building custom +Google Maps for trips. It forces me to think about what the key points are and become intimately familiar with the locations.  I built one for an upcoming trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Do the experts on that area have any recommendations for things to add?

#NationalParks   #Maps   #Hiking   #Travel  

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Congaree National Park |

I had a thoroughly mediocre time in Congaree National Park, yet I did manage to walk away with some decent photos. Check out my blog post and decide for yourself if it's worth the trip.  Learn from my experience and make the most of your trip.

#NationalParks   #SouthCarolina   #Blog   #Photography   #Hiking

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Shenandoah National Park |

I finally got around to writing a blog post about the five trips I've taken to Shenandoah National Park over the time I've lived in the DC area. I try to write these in a way to give the reader some idea of what's available and whether some things are worth doing.

If you find it helpful, please share it. If you don't find it helpful, please leave a comment with some feedback. I'll have plenty more of these to write and I would like to improve them as I go along.

#NationalParks   #Blog   #LandscapePhotography   #Travel   #ShenandoahNationalPark   #Virginia  

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Folly Beach Pier | Folly Beach, SC

I took this photo on my last morning in South Carolina. About 20 minutes after this, I was in my car making the 10 hour drive back home.  This morning was one of the highlights of my trip. I had plenty of time to play around before and after sunrise with relatively few people in the shots I was trying to get around this pier. There were a lot of people out...I guess that's what you do when you're at an east coast beach at sunrise.   There were plenty of SLR-toting photographers too, but for some reason, they didn't want this as an interesting foreground piece. Lucky for me, everyone had other things on their minds.

For me, the key to this particular photo was lining my camera up so that the sun was at least partially blocked by the support for the pier.  I was getting a lot of flare and the shadow helped with that. I also wanted those shadows as leading lines.

#Sunrise   #SouthCarolina   #FollyBeach   #Pier   #Beach   #AtlanticOcean  
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