Archive for March, 2010



Landscape on Bark

From the sweeping grandeur of panoramas and beach vistas, we go to the miniature landscape of lichen, moss, and fungus on a tree trunk. I have always been fascinated by the patterns to be seen close in. The full range macro on the SX20 makes shots like this easier to frame and capture. As with the big vistas of the past few days, to see this to full advantage you need to click the image and open it at a larger size. And, finally, it is pretty good image quality from a small sensor super zoom at ISO 200!

Canon SX20IS at about 250mm equivalent and Macro. F5 @ 1/160th @ ISO 250. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and a touch of Vibrance. Sharpen landscapes preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Laudholm Beach

So you walk through the Laudholm meadows, the old apple orchard, the woods, and out across the marsh on the old road bed, through the summer cottages, up the stairs and across the boardwalk and this is what you see. Laudholm Beach, stretching past the mouth of the Little River, connecting to Crecent Beach and Parsons before coming to the mouth of the Mousam, Great Head, Lords Point, St. Anne’s and Walker’s Point. And it is all there in this picture, plus sky!

Canon SX20IS at 40mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/250th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Cropped a little at the bottom in Lightroom. Recovery for the sky. Blackpoint right. Added Clarity and a bit of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Laudholm Pond Panorama

I have a detailed explanation of why and how this shot was taken at Playing With Panoramas: sort of… on Point & Shoot Landscape. I was not really after the panorama effect, but I wanted a wider shot than my 28mm equivalent could provide, in order to frame the pond and sky with the white birch stands. Three shots using the Panorama mode on the SX20IS with the zoom at about 40mms, PhotoShop Elements’ PhotoMerge tool, plus final processing in Lightroom, yields this. Of course, to see it to true advantage you need to click the image and open it in the largest size you monitor will show. For comparison, here is the shot with the unaided 28mm on the Canon SX20IS.

From Around Home 2010.



Skunk Cabbage

Happy Sunday!

It is the season of the year when about all this is blooming in Maine is the Skunk Cabbage. In places the wet forest floor is thick with the purple flower cases, which appear ahead of the leaves. The cases are as hard as they look. Inside there is an ugly knob which I assume (without any real knowledge) is the stamen. It would not be an attractive plant at all, if it were not for the amazing shapes the flower cases take as they unfold. 

For this shot, I flipped out the LCD on the Canon SX20IS and hung the camera down over the edge of the boardwalk almost to the very wet ground. After taking a few shots of the whole cluster, I zoomed in using the Macro setting to get this tight framing. That is an emerging leaf in front of the flower cases. Being able to shoot at 560mm equivalent and macro is, I am finding, one of the best features of the SX20.

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent and Macro.  F5.7 @ 1/320th @ ISO 160. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, Blackpoint slightly right, added Clarity and a touch of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

And here is the whole cluster. This shot at about 450mm equivalent, F5 @ 1/200th @ ISO 80, and with very similar processing to the shot above.

And another plant, showing the typical overlapping curve of the flower cases: this one from a higher angle and also about 450mm. F5 @ 1/250th @ ISO 200.



Flying Reeds

So who can resist an amazing sky. The combination of the deep blue here, with both cirrus (thin, wispy, and high) and cumulous effects (low and puffy), makes for sky that is unusually deep. Add the winter worn but still upright phragmities reeds and the vista of the flooded marsh behind and the low angle (held below waist level using the flip out LCD) and…well you get what you have here.

I used to have very different feelings about the phragmities reed…when I thought it was an invasive species. Turns out phragmities in Maine, and a good portion of the phragmities nationwide, are descendents of native reeds, or reeds of mixed descent at the very least. Their invasive nature is the result of changes (probably man-made) in the nature of the marsh, not the other way around. Anyway, they add a undeniable dimension to this image.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 80. Landscape program. Cropped from the sides for composition.

In Lightroom, besides the cropping, a bit of Recovery for the sky and clouds, Blackpoint to the right, added Clarity and just a very small amount of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.

And, as you might suspect, I could not just take one.



Laudholm Farm, Wells ME

As I mentioned yesterday, the Laudholm Farm Trust has a cooperative agreement with the Wells National Estuarine Research Center which helps to off-set the cost of maintaining the land in its undeveloped state, in a location where the commercial value of the land is relatively high. They have also been able to preserve the farm buildings, and Laudholm Farm is certainly one of the more picturesque New England/Maine coastal farms.

This shot looks back along one of the maintained trails across a meadow…golden in this season. In a few months it will be green and alive with Bobolink song. I got down low again to catch the golden grasses as foreground, and cropped from the top to place the horizon for this view. It improves with size. You might want to try it larger on Wide Eyed In Wonder by clicking the image above. It should open to the largest size you can view on your monitor.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/800th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am coming to trust the Landscape program on the SX20 to produce exposures that allow me to process in Lightroom for the effect I am after. In this case, Recovery for the sky (but not much), Fill Light for the foreground, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and just a small amount of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.



And the Sky Above…

Wells National Estuarine Research Center at Laudholm Farms is a public/private cooperation. The Laudholm Trust owns the land and buildings. The WNERC operates the facility and staffs the research projects. All in all, it is a wonderful place, with public hiking trails through an old salt marsh farm situated on a hill over, through well grown woods, out across the marsh on an old road, and to the beach at the mouth of the Little River. On the north side it adjoins Rachel Carson National Wildlife property all along the marsh.

It is a varied habitat, and there is always something to see there. This was the first really warm day of spring, a Saturday, and there were quite a few people enjoying the trails.

The main attraction in this shot is, of course, the sky and that amazing cumulous cloud against the airbrushed (literally) backdrop of cirrus. I also liked the gold of the standing grasses and the intricate tip of the little tree just over the horizon. I got down low and used the flip out LCD for an up-hill, ground-level shot that hid most of the tree, and made the grasses more of a subject. A bit of crop at the bottom to eliminate some of the more scruffy grass and place the horizon…and there you go.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/250th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

In Lightroom, Recovery for the sky, some Fill Light for the foreground, Blackpoint to the right, added Clarity and just a bit of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.

And, of course I could not take just one. This is the same shot, from the same position, at about 45mm equivalent…coming in tighter on the cloud and making the tree more of a subject.



Tender Color (or not)

Off a lobster boat in Cape Porpoise harbor, Cape Porpoise ME. Lobster buoys are traditionally colorful, but lobster boats are just as traditionally white with black trim. This lobsterman clearly things differently, from the slogan/name on the back of the boat to the brilliant color scheme. This is a case where having the reach of a super-zoom Point and Shoot makes the day, as I was able to isolate the boat against the water. Cropping top and bottom finished the presentation.

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent. F5.7 @ 1/640th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

In Lightroom, cropping as above. A touch of Recovery. A tiny amount of Fill Light. Blackpoint to the right. Added Clarity and Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Balson River, Emmons Preserve, Kennebunkport ME

I have attempted to photograph this stream in every season over the past 12 years. It is on a little pocket preserve tucked in between the homes on two back roads…gifted to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust some years ago, and developed just enough for easy access…once you know it is there. The stream, or river, depending, goes from a trickle at mid summer to a full raging torrent during the storms of spring and fall. Or it can be an icy cascade in winter, with every willow wand along the bank hung with ice bells. I have seen it in every light.

And it is always a bear to photograph. The range of light, from deep shadow to bright sun on the foaming water of the falls, from the incredible dark green of the moss in the shade, to the pure silver light reflected off leaves, is just way beyond any sensor’s ability. I even wrote a whole Point and Shoot Landscape piece on exposing for post-processing based on my trials here: the only way to come close to capturing the range is to expose so that both shadow and highlight detail can be restored in post-processing. Of course, that means that the images, out of camera, can look pretty strange.

So…with a new camera and all, I had to try again…or at least make a beginning in the process of learning how to use this camera to capture an image in Emmon’s Preserve…since no two cameras have the same range of possibility when it comes to that (or anything else).

All the shots taken that day were experiments. I found that with previous cameras you could not use exposure compensation to save the highlights. That left the shadows too dark, and post-processing added to much noise. Still, I know that photographically, exposure compensation is the right solution here, so I was trying what the Canon could do. This exposure was at –1 EV, and, with processing in Lightrroom, it is one of the most successful shots of the Balson that I have ever taken. The highlights and sunny bank areas are just within range (having applied some Recovery in Lightroom), and the shadows opened up well with just enough Fill Light not to produce much noise. Granted, it will get worse when the leaves come out and the shadows deepen…but for now, I am really liking this rendering. The dynamic range is very natural…both shadows and highlights are much as the eye would see them in real time: and that, ultimately, is my goal.

(By the way, I am not an advocate of the silky water school of stream photography. I have another P&S Landscape piece on that. I prefer to let the shutter freeze some of the water motion…since, in real time, I see something closer to the detail of frozen water, than I do to the silky blur. I find the patterns of swirl and bubble infinitely fascinating.)

Canon SX20IS at just under 60mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/200 @ ISO 80. Landscape preset. (Landscape preset, by the way, does better, somehow, for color balance than regular Program does on auto. It handled the open shade here just fine.)

In Lightroom, as mentioned, Recovery for highlights, Fill Light for shadows (but not much). Blackpoint just slightly right. Added Clarity and just a tiny amount of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Walker’s Point, Kennebunkport ME

(This is going to be a story of second thoughts, so do read all the way to bottom.)

For those in the know this shot will be instantly recognizable. It is the summer home of George W. Bush senior in Kennebunkport ME. We were out enjoying some after-supper sun, which, of course, we have not seen in many months in Maine. The sea was still running heavy from last week’s storms. The light was just this side of golden. This looks like a 28mm shot, but it actually cropped from top and bottom from a shot taken at closer to  35mm.

It was a particularly difficult exposure problem, since the foreground, which had already fallen partially into shadow in the late sun, was so dark and the midground and sky so very bright. Exposing for the foreground would have given me a white sky. I struck the best balance I could in-camera, and hoped to recover some of the range in Lightroom.

This is another shot that improves as you enlarge it. I really recommend clicking to open it a larger size.

Canon SX20IS at about 35mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/320th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Some Recovery in Lightroom for the sky. Quite a bit of Fill Light to open the deep foreground shadows. Blackpoint to the right. Added Clarity and just a touch of Vibrance. Sharpen landscapes preset. Cropped from the bottom to eliminate deeper shadow, and then from the top for composition.

And that is good as far as it goes.

Of course…as I looked at this image all set for posting, it occurred to me that it might be improved. Surprising how often that happens. I suddenly saw that dueling Graduated Filter effects might scrub some exposure from the sky and point, while picking up some more detail in the foreground.  So I opened Lightroom once more, made a virtual copy of the image so I didn’t mess up the original edits, and took that into the Develop module. I rolled back the Tone edits I did on the original so I could work from something more like the file as it came from the camera. Then I opened the Graduated Filter Effects panel and pulled down a GFE from the top of the image all the way to the bottom. I used that to reduce Exposure quite a bit and Brightness just a bit. Then I added Clarity and Sharpness to that filter. Next I pulled up a GFE from the bottom to mid image. I used this one to increase Exposure and Brightness and add considerable Clarity and Sharpness, plus a bit of Saturation and Contrast. Finally, I exited the GFE panel, used a touch of Recovery on the whole image to darken the sky even more and some Fill Light for the foreground shadows. The Fill Light was mostly so that I could slide the Blackpoint slightly right to increase overall intensity. And this is what I got.

And that, folks, if memory serves, is much closer to the scene as it appeared to the naked eye on the evening I took it. It is certainly much closer to my mind’s-eye-view of what it ought to look like.