Joseph Hallenbeck

Drawing and Photography

Macro photos of the flowers Jess got me for Valentine’s day last month. A good chance for practicing macro stacking as well. Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 200mm f/4.0 AF-S FX Shutter: 1/25 sec F-Stop: f/4.2 ISO: 320 Focal Length: 200mm Lighting: None Stack: 5 Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 200mm f/4.0 AF-S FX Shutter: 1/13 sec F-Stop: f/4.5 ISO: 320 Focal Length: 200mm Lighting: None Stack: 6 Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 200mm f/4.0 AF-S FX Shutter: 1/25 sec F-Stop: f/4.2 ISO: 320 Focal Length: 200mm Lighting: None Stack: 3
The following sketches are from my field notebook. They were done while taking a native plants class with Klara Varga in Jackson Hole. In particular, these plants were all found growing along the roadway through the Elk Refuge.
North of the open dunes is North Juniper Hill, the tallest of the St. Anthony Sand dunes at 6,625 ft and a rise of roughly 1,000 feet above the surrounding fields. It’s sandy all the way up to the top. We took two days backpacking, this photo is a cropping of a 360 degree panorama of 21 stitched images. North Juniper Hill Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX Shutter: 1/320 sec F-Stop: f/9 ISO: 250 Focal Length: 35mm Lighting: None Stitches: 21
The St. Anthony Sand Dunes west of St. Anthony, Idaho are perhaps one of the hidden gems out here. It took us almost a year to bother checking them out due to all the talk of ATV use. It is true, the dunes are infested with ATV droning on, but by late evening it seems like they die down and leave a little peace and quite. The dunes themselves are quite impressive, we thought we would be seeing some small dunes or patches of sand, instead we found massive open dunes rising 300 feet above the nearby potato fields. The...
I was just going through my photos from my return trip to the Southwest which included Arches, Canyonlands, Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. For some odd reason, I was not in a big photography mood despite loading up all of my equipment. I left my camera behind on the backpacking portion and only stopped to quickly snap a few panoramas along the way. I’ve included those panoramas below. I find myself wishing that I had taken more time with them. Perhaps with a little more editing in post, I could bring them out. Delicate Arch, Arches National Park Model:...
Perhaps one of the most scenic diversions from I-90 when driving across Montana. A turn off at Big Timber and head south arcing along W. Boulder Road to Livingston. In this instance, I caught a freak ranstorm that was coming down over the wilderness. Settings Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX Shutter: 1/160 sec Exposure Program: Manual F-Stop: f/9 ISO: 400 Focal Length: 35mm Lighting: None No of Stitched Photos 4
I have taken to experimenting with stitching panoramic images together. The one above is of Bear Lake in September of this year. We sped around the lake at sunset hoping to get to the eastern shore in time for the shot. I ran out of the truck down onto the stony beach and started shooting. The resulting photo has has had little post work done in lightroom, but was stitched together using photoshop with a dash of content aware fill to fill in where the distortion curved down into the blue sky and took out a chunk of the right-most...
It has been almost one year exactly since I posted my progress in attending the life studies group in Sioux Falls. I did not attend nearly as much as I had hoped last year. Indeed, with heavy overtime through the fall and only a scattering of visits last winter followed by an outright abstinence through the spring and into early summer – I am surprised that I have this many sketches to scrap up and post.
August 01, 2012

Life Studies #1 & #2

I’ve been attending a life-drawing studio in Sioux Falls over the last year, below are a handful of sketches that came from these studios.
I came across a used macro lens for sale recently. I’ve had an eye out for a macro for some time, but they are one of those specialty kinds of lenses that don’t seem to be for sale used in the same bulk as consumer kit lenses or ultra-zooms. Here’s the results of my first real test of the lens: Settings Model: Nikon D80 /w AF Micro-Nikon 200mm f/4.0 IF-ED Shutter: 1.3 sec Exposure Program: Manual F-Stop: f/18 ISO: 400 Focal Length: 200mm Lighting: None And for those of you who would like to see it blown up to 100%...
Eureka! I’ve solved yet another odd puzzle of digital photography: easily making your RAW file look like what you see on your Nikon’s LCD screen. Perhaps you have just made the leap from shooting with JPEGs to shooting with RAW. You’ve already read up on the various deficiencies of JPEGS: compression, loss of color data, difficulty of editing and the many advantages of RAW: ability to easily manipulate midtones, white balance and apply color filters in post production. Happily, you start shooting in RAW but there is a problem. The unprocessed photos lack the pop and vividness of your old JPEGs. When...
There was an article on Reddit this week encouraging folks to list this early photography blunders. A common one was the “cover every mm” mistakes – where you try to get zoom lens that cover the entire range of focal length possibilities. I know this mistake fairly well, I made it myself. I started SLR photography in 2008 when, anticipating a Europe trip, I decided to dump my point-and-shoot camera for a Nikon D80. As with any important purchase, I researched the topic to death and often came upon Ken Rockwell’s site. Here’s the thing. Ken Rockwell is a master...
I spent two goods nights last month working through a series of photographs that I intended for Christmas gifts. Perhaps one of the most challenging post-production works was this photograph I took of a hive in Gallatin National Forest just south of Livingston, MT. This shot is actually a composite of two different shots. You see, I took nearly a dozen photographs of this hive free-hand during sunset. There was little light and in only a small handful of shots was the hive sharp. The composition for the piece was also a challenge. A number of shots have twigs in...
My first sketch this week was an attempt at a train locomotive. This sketch did not turn out very well. I erased it, and started over with a more general sketch of a train yard that I found. A second sketch was done while my girlfriend worked on the computer. Sitting across from her, I sketched her hand over the mouse. Both of these sketches I did with a 0.5mm drafting pencil with standard softness lead (around HB). This is softer than I am typically used to working with, but I find that the lines are more expressive when sketching...
December 16, 2011

Sketch Journal #7 - Krampus

I discovered the Daily Sketch Reddit this week and have added thirty minutes of sketching off their prompts to my daily routine. One of the nicer sketches this week was that of Krampus the mythical christmas demon of central Europe.
I started working through my library of photographs lately in order to sort out (through hundreds) the chaff from the wheat and begin trying my hands at post-production. I typically stick with a rather traditional methodology. I make adjustments to the raw file, but stick away from more elaborate composition effects. Settings: Model: Nikon D80 Shutter: 1/10 sec Exposure Program: Automatic F-Stop: f/5.7 ISO: 100 Focal Length: 170mm Lighting: None
Continuing my summer photography, I present a series of photographs taken while roaming the trails at Jewel Cave National Monument. These are but a small fraction of the wildflowers that grow through the summer season in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Settings: Model: Nikon D80 Shutter: 1/1000 sec Exposure Program: Aperture Priority F-Stop: f/2.5 ISO: 100 Focal Length: 35mm Lighting: None Settings: Model: Nikon D80 Shutter: 1/60 sec Exposure Program: Aperture Priority F-Stop: f/8 ISO: 100 Focal Length: 35mm Lighting: None Settings: Model: Nikon D80 Shutter: 1/320 sec Exposure Program: Aperture Priority F-Stop: f/1.8 ISO: 100 Focal Length: 35mm...
I have a long backlog of photographs from this past summer that I am beginning to work my way through and will be showcasing the best of over the next few weeks. I have a goal of attempting a showing of my photography in the Sioux Falls area sometime in the next nine months. I have had friends over the years doing showings at places like Black Sheep Coffee as well as at my alma matre, Augustana College and I hope to select a few prints to really work through in photoshop, professionally print, matte, frame, and display. The above...
October 24, 2011

Food Photography

I am a rather shy person when it comes to photographing people I don’t know. Food, provides a good substitute. Particularly since food can be positioned and set out to take advantage of both artificial and natural light. The above photograph was taken at noon using natural light filtering in through my dining room window. The arrangement takes advantage of the strong diagonals created by the stone table and the red rose mirrors the tones of the hearty bowl of Russian borscht that I had prepared some weeks prior. Settings Model: Nikon D80 Shutter: 1/500 sec Exposure Program: Aperture Priority...
August 13, 2011

Cave Photography #2

I again returned to Jewel Cave’s Wild Caving Route with my camera to take photographs of the route. I find that the NPS Library for the route is rather sparse requiring our brochures to consist of photographs of visitors during tours rather than set photographs designed to illustrate the challenges of the route itself. To get the equipment into the route is no easy challenge. The pelican cases are bulky and heavy. The plastic tends to cut into my side, throw me off balance, and generally turn an easy trail into a nightmarish pain. In order to minimize the time...
Wow! Over a month since my last post. Time as a Park Ranger get’s away from me during the summer. I want to be underground in the cave, above ground on the trails – everywhere with a camera and back at the apartment working on my art. This last week I worked on sketching from screen captures of various music videos. The one selected for the blog is a sketch from Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Now, I must say that Gaga is not really my typical fair (I’d more of a Progressive/Post Rock fan with a long playlist of Yes,...
Not the best sketch ever, but I had to get something up for the week. Work on the comic continues to dominate my time, so I had only a few minutes in the week to work on any kind of sketching. This one is a quick draft of a canal bridge based off a photograph taken in southern Michigan.
I am back from a long break from web-posting due to settling back into the day-to-day routine of being a Park Ranger. The job takes a lot out of me, and I find little time in the evenings to work on projects. Yet, after four years of this, I think I have found how to take this job in stride. After a grueling day running around a cave, talking endlessly to visitors, and editing brochures – I get home and immediately shift gears to drawing, writing, and editing. Nevertheless, there is never enough time to get to everything, hence the...
April 28, 2011

Ivan Character Sheet

I’ll be moving back to South Dakota over this week so I’m pre-posting comics for the next two weeks and hoping that they will all go live at the appropriate times. Thursdays will be filler-art days for the next two weeks due to the move as well. This week’s filler is a character sheet where I was trying out different expressions for Ivan while trying to see how accurately I could redraw the shape of his head. I’m still not satisfied with the character of Ivan both as a character as well as his overall design. He might suffer a...
I realized yesterday that the “Writing” link on the portfolio was broken. A quick fix for all those fans who want to continue reading my Kierkegaard thesis. This week’s sketch journal is a little late due to the Easter holiday. I traveled south to Indiana to visit relatives over the weekend (but mostly to play fetch with their dogs, I do miss having a good lab to play fetch with). I promised myself to spend a great deal of time sketching on the trip, but alas promises soon fade. One item I did work on was gestures for comic book...
I’ve been very busy working on the script and sketches for my webcomic this week, so I had very little time to extra sketching on the side. So here’s a graphite scribble composing a couple different people I know into a single caricature.
My second week of sketching focused on perspective using a rustic-era shed that I photographed in Olympic National Park. The sketch is primarily contour lines, but I hope to ink and shade it later this week which will improve upon its present “rough” look.
April 01, 2011

Super Moon Photos

Because of it’s 30% extra brightness, the full moon of March, 2011 was dubbed the “Super Moon.” This was some night photography I couldn’t pass up! This composite shot was taken from the shadow of Stonington Peninsula’s lighthouse looking eastward over Lake Michigan. The moon rose promptly at 8:15 as a bright orange ball and climbed over the lake. I took each of roughly thirty shots from my tripod, but a strong wind and cold ruined many of the takes. The final result is a composition of two shots at different apertures. The first shot is adjusted to capture the...
March 31, 2011

Don Character Sheet

The process of working on the comic continues and today I present my draft sheet for the character of Don. I tried on this sheet to experiment a little with his design. For one, out of all the character’s Don was the most complete out-of-the-box. He is based on a statue of Don Quixote that my drawing professor at Augustana had us draw. Indeed, many of these characters are based on weird statues he had us draw. Thus, when it came time to draw his character sheet, I decided to experiment. I colored in his mustache, removed the bandeliers and...
A friend of mine (Alex Stommes) started keeping a sketch journal last summer. His plan was to post a sketch every day to the journal. The idea of this process was that it would encourage an active involvement in the art and a deadline to produce something each day. I found the idea intriguing and the results quite superb. By the end of the summer he improved immensely, and he continues to post new material regularly. I wanted to start my own journal, but with my all my ongoing projects keeping a daily journal would require far more commitment than...
March 10, 2011

Art Gallery

I returned to drawing in my final year of college following a half-decade hiatus. Akin to my photographic work, I tend to focus on space and atmosphere. The interconnections of parts forming into textures, brisk ink lines and sharp architectural shapes with muted or monochromatic colors fascinate me. In recent years, I have taken to community figure drawing sessions to enhance my skills outside of still life. I aspire towards integrating illustration, and particular sequential art into my narrative storytelling.
March 09, 2011

Photography

After five years of hauling it through caving expeditions, European bicycling trips and countless backpacking expeditions, my Nikon d80 seems a nigh indestructible tool. My photographic work, a hobby I picked up during a college trip abroad, focuses principally on nature and those spaces that I think capture the revelation of the the sublime in a particular space. As such, I tend to work mostly with natural lighting using prime lenses to compose my observations. My photographs have been featured in a number of National Park Service publications related to Jewel Cave National Monument and in advertisements promoting the Black...
February 22, 2011

Gnome Sheet

If you actually read my blog entries you might begin to notice a very nice pattern to them. It begins “I promise to start updating!” Soon after making such a promise, I look at the comics to come and realize that they suck. I drag my feet on releasing them. I dabble with just starting over. I draw some character sketches. I “practice” my inking. So very many excuses, and fortunately, so very few readers to complain! My excuse this time? I am working on the script and the background. When I began to write up the background, I found...
February 03, 2011

Som Sheet, Scan #2

Continuing the series of character sheets from the past two days. . . Today, let’s look at the 1200DPI scan of the character sheet. The higher-resolution scan resulted in a 75MB TIFF image that crawled even my design rig to a halt. I put the 1200DPI scan through the same process as the 300DPI scan, but this time I found a surprising change when it came time for live-tracing. The Illustrator traced the image correctly without my fiddling with the threshold! I still had the nice smoothing effect that live trace gave to my inks, but with the higher resolution it kept...
February 02, 2011

Som Sheet, Scan #1

I continue the parade of character sheets from yesterday. Recall that I mentioned scanning the sheet at both 300DPI and 1200DPI, the result of the lower-resolution scan is what we will examine today. After scanning the sketch, I opened Photoshop and adjusted the levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels or Image > Adjustments > Curves) to give the inked lines a rich black look. Then I placed the image into illustrator and set the program to live trace. The benefit of live trace is two fold. Illustrator inks much better than I. The results smooth out many of the “shaky...
February 01, 2011

Somnaire Character Sheet

Let me begin my series of filler sketches by going over some character sheets. In the past months, I’ve sketched the characters over and over again. Some character like the Dwarf, or Don came naturally to me. I sketched them down once, thought them satisfactory, and went on my way. Som and Ivan, however, never felt right. Occasionally, I get a frame where I think “yes, this is right. This is what Som should look like.” More often, I flounder about and the only connection from one frame to the next is that she’s the only female caste member. Thus, this...
September 21, 2010

Dust in the Camera

Settings Nikon D80 with a 35mm lens (52mm equivalent) Shutter Speed 1/6s Aperature f/22.0 ISO 100 Filter Circular Polarizer A friend and I went out to St. Onge, SD last weekend to capture some photographs of the old abandoned buildings out that way. After a hundred shots, I got home, unloaded them into Adobe Bridge and found this massive spec of dust on every photo. I checked my filters, checked each lens. Took a dozen practice shots. I found no dust on any lens, filter, nor saw it in the view screen. Which left only one place: the sensor. Now...
Last night, I took my first stab at cave photography while on a caving trip with two friends into Jewel Cave. Out of 61 shots taken that night, only two felt “okay.” Settings Nikon D80 with a 35mm lens (52mm equivalent) Shutter Speed 1.3s Aperature f/11.0 ISO 100 2 Vivitar 283s with a firefly 2 flash Jessie Ketchum models on the canyoning portion of Jewel Cave’s Wild Caving Route. A slave flash fired by Vicki Bierwirth from below lights the corridor beyond Jessie while a secondary flash, held at arm’s length from the camera, provides fill for Jessie. I would’ve...
Photos of the moon seem to rarely turn out. They’re either out of focus, too bright, or too dim. Last night I climbed up Little Devil’s Tower in Custer State Park and after fidgeting with my telephoto for some time captured one good image of the moon. Above is the result. I took this cropped shot of the moon on my Nikon d80 using the Nikkor 18-200mm zoom lens fully extended to 200mm, a 1/60s shutter speed, f/11 f-stop and set on ISO 100. The result is my first sharp image of the moon.