Mission and Purpose - Geophotography


“If a man ascended into heaven and gazed upon the whole workings of the universe and the beauty of the stars, the marvelous sight would give him no joy if he had to keep it to himself. And yet, if only there had been someone to describe the spectacle to, it would have filled him with delight. Nature abhors solitude.” Attributed to Cicero P295 Harris, Robert "Dictator" 2015

Mission and Purpose. Geophotography is about displaying landscapes and artifacts found throughout the world I have experienced. The mission of this project is to share these photographs for the benefit of furthering education and advancing the knowledge I have collected. The site is divided into "free" downloads and photographs you can purchase. 100 percent of the profit when you purchase a photograph goes to supporting organizations whose mission fits the goals of science education. (For this purpose, profit is defined as the price you pay less the cost that goes to the hosting site and printing company. No revenue is kept by the photographer.)

Rules for downloading or using the prints. Simple. Please use them only for your organization or personal use. A copyright or citation is required (use ©John Pohl or www.Geophotography.org). If you wish to use a photograph in a publication or for commercial use, you must obtain permission. Commercial use is defined as a for profit organization or if you are reselling or making money using these photographs. A note on photographs containing "People". I try to avoid these. In some cases, these are used for scale. If you find a recognizable image, please notify me so I can remove it as I respect the privacy of the individual. Thank you for understanding. Free photographs can be found under the Geology section. If you are an educational institute and find a photograph you wish to use that is not "free" please contact me so I can make it available to you.

Errors and omissions. I try to be as accurate as possible in my descriptions and facts. Should you find an error - please let me know as this is the only way to keep from propagating erroneous knowledge. Check the Updates page for major changes.

About John and the photos. Growing up, I spent time in Sicily, Germany, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, boarding school in Switzerland and I am currently reside in Seattle, WA. In Saudi Arabia I worked for the United States Geological Survey (even doing Paleo magnetics to support early research on plate tectonics). Hence my roots lie in geology. (Geology in a way is a language that helps us read the earths annals.) I became a photo-enthusiast in High School using a Canon F1. I went on to double major in Geology and Political Science at Dickinson College (a hybrid approach to Geography). I received an MBA (Seattle University) and worked in Manufacturing, the software industry including developing expert systems, and even tried my hand at Ranching. Somewhere in all of this there evolved an appreciation for the world around us. A sense that we are here to witness something much bigger than us. The style of photography is best described as landscape. I like to think of it as Naturgemälde a word used by Alexander von Humboldt and can be roughly translated as nature paintings. The English derivative of geo is earth – so if add Photography and you get – Geophotography, my attempt at Naturgemälde. A good friend of mine correctly commented that the analog tactile observation is much more powerful than anything we can capture on film. At the same time, we can’t all travel, and each of us has their own perspective. This site is about trying to translate my experiences and hopefully to motivate others. It is also something I try and write about in my limited blogging so feel free to delve into those thoughts to help interpret what this is all about. I do welcome difference of opinion and constructive thoughts, so feel free to correspond with me.

Equipment and technique. The digital age is evolving. All my photographs have camera make and model as well as the metadata including focal length and lens included. I moved to Micro 4/3rds systems for their size and resolution – as I travel, hike and want to be able to have the camera when others are not willing to carry their equipment. These are more than adequate for what I am doing, although, there is a definite appreciation of full frame sensors and lens and what they bring to the table.

Pictures on this site were taken with the following cameras (from oldest to newest):

Kodak Easy Share C643 2000-2007

Canon Powershot S60 2005

Canon Power Shot G7 2008

Panasonic Lumix GF1 2011

Panasonic Lumix GX1 2013

Panasonic Lumix GX8 2016

Occasionally photographs are taken using smartphones Nokia 950 and Nokia Ikon. Most pictures shot are taken in RAW although there are some JPEGS. There is some discussion about RAW versus JPEG, but I prefer the original data and make post processing changes rather than relying on the camera’s manufacturer software (albeit very good). The simplest reason is that if I take a black and white as a JPEG, I can’t make it a color picture. With RAW I keep all the data and can effectively convert it to black and white while retaining the original. I also take the time to convert all my RAW pictures to digital negatives (.dng). There is plenty of literature on these subjects, but ultimately the decision is that RAW formats rely on the camera manufacture to maintain forward compatibility. DNG is considered more archival and therefore should theoretically allow for forward compatibility.

Post processing. The objective is to produce a picture that is as close to the original as possible. I try and duplicate the original colors. Digital manipulation is avoided. For the most part, limited to those used in a “Darkroom”. Contrasts, removal of dust specs, burning, dodging, cropping and the like. The term Photoshop implies digital manipulation of the photograph which is not done. The digital darkroom does provide us certain advantages (and some disadvantages), the most obvious being no chemicals. The darkroom also had several tools we don’t always think when making a print including papers. However, the digital darkroom not only makes this easier, faster, and iterative, it also allows you to push the envelope, and detail. In very rare instance I have tried my hand at HDR (High Dynamic Range) where two identical photographs are merged together to scenes with a large range of dynamic light. For the most part I use the graduated filter function in Lightroom rather than HDR merges. Neutral Density filters can also be used. I do calibrate my monitors to attempt to provide realistic colors (Spyder 4 by Datapro). This is somewhat defeated when viewing photographs on most devices as the standard monitor tends to be calibrated to make brighter often more saturated images. Prints form these images may also vary depending on the papers and the fact that light pixels (monitors) and pigments have different properties. Post processing is currently done using Adobe Lightroom but earlier pictures (pre 2011) were developed using Corel Paintshop.

Panoramic, Panoramas and Stitching. In recent years I have started following the protocol of adding an “i n” to the end of the file name. “i”stands for image. “n” is the number of images used to create the panoramic. Stitching or merging multiple contiguous photographs has been something I used to do by taping a group of photographs together. Today the science of digital stitching has allowed multiple photographs to be merged together. The software developers and engineers should be complimented for the algorithms and logic they have coded! This has allowed me to put together multiple shots to create much of the photography I take today. There is quite a bit of literature on this subject, including finding the nodal point (where the diaphragm is) and ensuring you rotate the camera to avoid parallax artifacts. The truth is, you should, but you can get away with a lot of handheld shots, still using autofocus and exposures given the power of some of these tools. Ghosting, or even movement of an object is even accounted for. There are some basic guidelines that I do follow. The more you adhere to following the higher the probability is that you will capture the data needed for a good panoramic. There are also a lot of photographs that get thrown away. And waves cause me no end of trouble.

With that said, it still takes all the rules of good composition, cropping and development. I also don’t limit stitching to a horizontal pan of the horizon. Capturing vertical images as well as horizontal contiguous images works well and can create more depth. It can also allow you to capture different focal elements, for example what is at your feet can be in focus as well as a distant mountain. Given that, I must be very careful and exam in detail photographs to ensure I don’t end up with “out of line” artifacts or out of focus sections of a stitch. It is also one of the primary reasons having a smaller “Chip or sensor” is not an issue. Quite often I blow out the ability of Lightroom and even other tools to be able to manage the number of captured pixels. Tools used for Stitching. There are three. The current version Lightroom is generally capable of stitching. If it can’t merge photos, I then default to using Adobe Photoshop’s merge tool. If that fails or I can’t get the result I want (e.g. Warping or improperly merged results) I use Kolor Autopano Pro.

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