Muddy Waters in Everett Washington

everett, washington, low tide, marina, pacific northwest, puget sound, landscape photography

100 ISO | 22mm | f9.0 | 1/500th of a second

Happy Saturday to my tribe.

Yesterday while out tooling around, I stopped at this point along the bay. The tide was out as you can see. There was nothing but mud and gunk. However, I liked the sky best.

My method for creating this image:

First, I shot 5 frames.

everett, washington, low tide, marina, pacific northwest, puget sound, landscape photography

I always adjust the first image (the one directly above this text). Then I sync up all the images to the first RAW adjusted. Next, into Photomatix Pro for baking.

After I had the image just right in Photomatix Pro I re-imported to LR5 for an additional set of tweaks.

  • Exposure bumped up +.15
  • Temp and Tint ever so slightly increased to help the exposure pop
  • Contrast up to +16
  • Saturation +5

The image still looked a tad on the flat side. Seemed to lack color or depth. So… into NIK Color EFEX Pro 4 to make some final adjustments to help the image pop with better color and depth.

In Color EFEX Pro 4 I did the following:

  • Added Tonal Contrast
  • Added a Vignette Lens

And if you scroll way up to the first image you will see my final product. This image is not for sale. I was only having some fun and wanted to show you a real deal photo from Everett, Washington near the marina.

I hope you enjoy the view.

Before and After: Walking out of Post Alley

Most of my city street shots are single shots converted into 3 exposure HDR images. This is just one of those Streets of Seattle captures pointed at random people walking out of Post Alley below the Seattle Public Market.

This is my RAW image before post processing.

seattle, post alley, pike place market, city of seattle, street photography, urban

The settings for this one were as follows:

ISO at 200

Lens at 50mm

f-stop at f5.6

Speed at 1/200 of a second

The final image after post HDR processing.

seattle, post alley, pike place market, city of seattle, street photography, urban

Typically when shoot on the street things are moving so it’s important to shoot at a higher speed like 1/200 at a minimum. This speed helps you stop the action better and get sharper images.

To compensate for a better exposure you will need to shoot around f5.6 at a minimum if you are looking for as much tact sharp focus as possible. I will sometimes shoot at f11, however my ISO will be much higher (800 to 3200) and the final image will be grainy. Honestly, it is your preference. Be bold and practice.

For today I was limiting my ISO to a max of 800. Just happened to get some good light and less shadows.

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Before and After: Quaint State Route 2 Home

Maps on iPhone said the weather was to be cold, yet sunny.

I headed out for a real estate photoshoot along Highway 2 near mile marker 21. A warning sign flashed as I drove through Monroe stating that snow chains were required at mile marker 54.

And it was going to be just fine because the sun was suppose to shine.

From the I-5 interchange and Highway 2 the sky looked questionable… but maybe… maybe the sun would shine. So out I went. When I arrived and started shooting it looked like snow at any moment. Never happened but neither did the sun. Those are the risks of winter real estate photography in the Pacific Northwest.

Before image:

This is the nominal capture at 100 ISO at f11. I always capture 5 frames all at the same ISO and f-stop setting. The only difference in the frames is the speed of the shutter.

After image:

This is the final result after merging all 5 frames into Photomatix and using my proprietary exterior mix.

This Quaint State Route 2 home listed by Sandy Meyer of Platinum Properties NW is a real charmer. The interior had an open concept living space. It was quiet warm and cheery inside. I liked the dark wood floors with neutral tones in the kitchen and bedrooms. I encourage you to take drive out to see this Quaint State Route 2 Home.

If  you are a Snohomish area realtor and need great interior and exterior images please email, call, or text. Check out my website at

Interior images:


Shoot Better Real Estate Photos Using the Kelvin System

Kelvins?! What the heck are those? I just point and shoot in Auto from my white balance. Um… WRONG!!!

If you are charging money for your work with Realtors you better be giving them your best. And I gotta say, your best is not to simply shoot your white balance on Auto.

Stop it. You are better then that. The next time take time to get your colors perfect.

So lets begin with what the heck a Kelvin is and who invented it. I found this information in the article: Hot Pictures: Better White Balance With the Kelvin System at

History of Kelvin

The first definition of Kelvin actually correlates to heat, not light. “But,” you say, “I’m a photographer, not a scientist (kudos if you’re both), why do I need to know about heat?” The temperature of an object (heat) in Kelvin defines the color of the object in Kelvin (color).

Kelvin is a scale of measurement created by a physicist and engineer at the University of Glasgow named William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. First introduced in 1848, Lord Kelvin wrote On an Absolute Thermometric Scale, a paper that called for need of a cold “null” point. At this point in time we have the Fahrenheit scale, which was based on marking a bottle arbitrarily and seeing where a brine solution will freeze and boil, 32°F and 212°F, respectively. We also had the Celsius scale, based on the freezing and boiling points of water: 0°C and 100°C. Neither of these scales, however, had a “null” point, meaning it was possible to have a negative degree of heat, theoretically forever.

Now you see that photography (great photography) is a matter of art mixed with science.

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Here are two different versions of the same photo. One shot and processed using Auto white balance ON and adjusted by the camera to 5100 Kelvins.

Next… a second photo processed identical except Kelvins set at 3200. If you were a Realtor, which one would you prefer to share with your potential buyers??

I think you would agree that the second image looks more natural. The walls are actually grey and the pink bows seem to pop way better in this image.

The next time you get a Realtor client to shoot their new listing… choose to do it right!! Choose to not be lazy and shoot in Auto white balance. Choose to take 2 second to set your Kelvin to 3200 to get a more natural balance look and feel to your images.

Thanks for seeing my images and reading my HDR by Spencer blog.

Before and After: Zombie Ferry Ride

washington state ferry, mukilteo, mukilteo state beach, puget sound, scary photos, before and after photography

Mukilteo State Beach and the Ferry always present awesome composition opportunites.

Those of us who live and play in this area may tend to take the sheer beauty of this place on earth for granted. I always do my best to keep the viewer in mind. They may have never been to Mukilteo or been up close with a real ferry.

This image struck me as different than my typical and natural HDR image. Post processing would develop from the thoughts of my mind and the final image as I saw it.

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At first you simply see a parade of ferry boat riders boarding. In my twisted mind I imaged zombies going for a ride on this ghost boat and the living dead wandering the high seas recking havoc.

That story might make for a great screenplay and movie.

Before or RAW capture: 5 frames at ISO 100, 28mm, and f11. Exposure was metered through the camera meter. Bracketing was not used. It was getting dark due to the weather and I could have bumped up my ISO to 200 to get more light. Next time.


It was Friday at about 3:30 pacific daylight time. Ferry riders just off work and heading home to Whidbey Island.  In post processing you will see they are all ghosted because I chose to merge the images all together and not remove the ghosting.

After HDR post processing: A stark and hopefully scary difference from the original RAW image. I let my imagination run wild. What I saw in my mind were Zombies boarding the ferry boat. This is the final image that came out of my thoughts and HDR post processing talents.

washington state ferry, mukilteo, mukilteo state beach, puget sound, scary photos, before and after photography

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