Archive for July, 2010



Wood Nymph

Along the Bridle Path where I have been doing a lot of digiscoping and general photography this summer, there are hundreds of these Wood Nymphs. I have never seen so many. In fact, until a month ago I am pretty sure I had never seen any…I had to look my first one up in the New England Nature Guide on my iPhone…though it must be a common butterfly in Southern Maine. Just not looking I guess. They rarely sit still long enough for a good portrait.

Canon SX20IS at full zoom and macro, 560mm equivalent field of view. F5.7 @ 1/320th @ ISO 400. Programmed auto.

A touch of Fill Light in Lightroom, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Marsh by the Mousam

This is another iPhone HDR using the Pro HDR app. Two exposures, tap, tap, one for the sky and one for the foreground, auto processed in the app. Slight adjustment: horizon straightening, levels, and contrast…red channel pulled back a bit…in PhotoGene on the iPhone, then uploaded to Wide Eyed In Wonder (SmugMug) using SmugShot. Could not be easier. Everything was done right there in the field at the time, with the scene before me. Though it is not an intentional  feature of the Pro HDR app, selecting exposure areas in the sky and background also alters the iPhone camera’s focus point, which makes for a processed image that is sharp, as here, from immediate foreground to to the distant clouds. Like I have said before…I really wish my Canon SX20IS could do this!! (And there is absolutely NO reason it could not…it is just software.)

As far as the shot itself goes…well it has just about everything going for it. Glorious sky, reflections in still water, strong horizon with the mass of houses leading in on the left, wonderful detail and interesting texture in the swirling marsh grasses, subtle effective color tones throughout…even that bit of stump sticking up to anchor the eye in the foreground. Add the HDR effect and you get a photograph that strikes the eye like the best landscape painting…in the sense that we are not used to seeing this kind of range in a photograph.

It almost makes me laugh out loud when I remember that it was produced completely on the iPhone 4! Who could have imagined it?

From iPhone 4 HDR and Panos.



Now You See Me

Eastern American Toad. This is why you always carry a second camera when digiscoping. You just never know what is going to hop across your path. Literally in this case…both the hop and the path part. He came to rest first under a clump of grasses beside the Kennebunk Bridle Path, which made getting an angle more than difficult, but then hopped out in the open before I had finished with him. Not that he is much more visible out in the open than under the grasses. Smile Such a handsome creature!

Canon SX20IS at full zoom, 560mm equivalent, and Macro. F5.7 @ 1/320th and 1/250th @ ISO 400. Programmed auto.

For the top shot, I had to use the flip out LCD on the Canon to get the angle, and then, finding the toad on that LCD at full zoom was a real challenge!

A touch of Fill Light and Blackpoint right in Lightroom. Added Clarity and just a bit of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset. Both images cropped slightly for composition.

From Around Home 2010.



Mousam Mouth Pano

Continuing one more day with the iPhone theme, here is an AutoStitch panorama made up of 10 separate images…5 across, and two down. It needs to be viewed as large as your monitor will take it. Click the image and use the size controls a the top of the window that opens. AutoStich could not be easier to use. Take any number of overlapping images with the iPhone’s camera so they are saved to the Camera Roll. Then open AutoStich and select them from within the app. That’s it. AutoStitch then intelligently assembles the images into a panorama, blends exposure, renders the finished image and gives you the option to auto crop. The image is not perfect…but it is very close. Since I often, as in this shot,  have to straighten the horizon a bit, and I want to sharpen slightly and maybe adjust curves, I generally do the cropping in PhotoGene, again, right on the iPhone. Finally, I upload the image to my Wide Eyed In Wonder site directly from the phone using SmugShot. Could not be easier.

This, by the way, is the mouth of the Mousam River, seen from the Kennebunk Bridle Trail across the marsh…Great Head, Parson’s Beach, and almost out to Route 9 on the right…close to 180 degrees. Taken and processed with the iPhone 4.

From iPhone HDR and Pano.



iPhone HDR: Mousam under Cloud

The camera on the new iPhone 4 is the first decent camera on a cell phone I have used…and it is pretty good. Auto Focus, Selective focus (tap to select focus point), Selective metering (tap), 5mp back-illuminated sensor for fairly high sensitivity and low noise. All and all, by the specs, pretty good.

However, it is the apps that really make the camera sing, and that actually tempt me to use it even when I am carrying my real camera! Take Pro HDR for instance. Open the app. Tap once on a light portion of the scene. Take a shot. Tap again on a dark portion of the scene. Take a shot. The app then combines the two shots into a true HDR rendering of the view. It even provides sliders to fine-tune Contrast, Saturation, and Color Temperature.

The results, right out of the app, can be impressive. Both of the shots here were then opened in PhotoGene on the iPhone for straightening, sharpening, and some levels and color adjustment before being directly uploaded to my Wide Eyed In Wonder SmugMug site from the phone (using SmugShot, a free app from SmugMug).

I certainly wish my real camera could do all of those things!

The iPhone does not record much in the way of EXIF data so all I can say is taken with the iPhone 4.

Processed as above.

From iPhone 4 HDR and Pano.



Watered Yellow Rose

We only have very few roses in our yard…they don’t do as well as Daylilies…but we enjoy the ones we have. This bright yellow was in full bloom and I caught it right after an afternoon shower with the beads of rain still on the petals. This is another example of what I love about the Canon’s telephoto macro.

Canon SX20IS at full 560mm equivalent and macro, f5.7 @ 1/400th @ ISO 100. Aperture preferred.

Some Recovery in Lightroom. A small amount of Fill Light and Blackpoint right. Added Clarity and just a bit of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From The Yard, Kennebunk ME.



Night Lights and Intelligent Design

Happy Sunday!

With a 6:46 am flight out of John Wayne International in Santa Ana CA, I was up early and outside the hotel waiting for my taxi. The little ornamental lake in the development, surrounded by the early lights of the buildings and with  low clouds behind, catching some of the city light…well…I just had to try. Flash off, camera steadied on a convenient concrete post along the shore, standard Program mode. I took several shots.

Though this could have been a black and white shot…I really enjoy the little red highlights in the water!

Which just goes to show that beauty is where you find it. It does make me wonder though, if the architects of this office and condo development in urban Southern California saw this in their minds’ eye when they drew in the lake?  Personally, I tend to take things like this as intelligent design, rather than random chance. I think the architects foresaw the possibility of beauty in the nightscape and planed accordingly.

Which is the way I look at creation itself. If I am wrong…well…no harm done. I get to enjoy the beauty either way. If I am right…well…then there is an aspect of respect…an acknowledgement that a beautiful mind has been at work…and a sense of kinship. After all, the architects only created what they thought others would find beautiful. They counted on my being enough like them to see the beauty they envisioned. Otherwise, why bother? And so it is, I believe, with the creation and the creator. If that adds a dimension to my enjoyment of the beauty, well, I think I am the better for it.

Canon SD4000IS at 28mm equivalent @ f2.0 @ 1/13th second @ ISO 1600. Programmed auto. (This is impressive image quality for ISO 1600 on a pocket P&S! Evidently the the back-illuminate CMOS sensor lives up to its hype. And there is another kind of beauty, as I see it, in that!)

Straightened in Lightroom (balancing on top of a round post is not ideal). Corrected for vertical and wide-angle distortion using the new tools in Lightroom 3. Added Contrast and Clarity. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Zeiss Trip CA 2010.



Hill above Ukiah CA

Crossing the mountains from Mendocino CA to Ukiah somewhere on route 283, I rolled down the window in the backseat and shot the rolling landscape.  The roadside grasses are just blurred from the motion. I was on a quick swing through California for work, not in charge of the schedule, and I had to seize every picture op. Smile This was my first trip to CA in full summer and the mountains took on a whole new look!

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, f4 @ 1/800th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Cropped in Lightroom for composition. Some Recovery for the sky, Fill Light and Blackpoint barely right, added Clarity and Vibrance, Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Zeiss Trip CA 2010.




iPhone 4 Possibilities

I have been having fun with the iPhone 4 camera. This is the first phone I have owned with anything approaching a real camera: 5mp with a focusing lens, etc.

Couple that with the excellent photo software available for the iPhone and you can have some fun.

The first shot is a panorama of 6 images, 3 across and 2 down, done in AutoStitch. You shoot roughy overlapping images, load them into AutoStitch, and it does the rest. And does it very well. Better really than any panorama software I have used on my laptop.

The second image is a two exposure HDR done in ProHDR. Again, you just shoot two shots, touching the screen where you want to take the exposure readings, first light, then dark, and the program combines them to an extended range rendition. It also has slider controls to tweek the result for contrast, saturation, and warmth.

I generally take the output of these two programs and crop and sharpen, and sometimes adjust the curves, in PhotoGene…also right on the iPhone.

That is a lot photographic power and a lot of photographic potential. Like I said, having fun!

Clicking either image should load a larger version for your viewing pleasure.




A fountain detail from the MacArthur Plaza in Santa Ana. Late evening light in Southern California.

Canon SD4000IS Digital Elph at about 46mm equivalent field of view @ f3.5 @ 1/800th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

Some Recovery in Lightroom. A touch of Fill Light, Blackpoint just right, added Clarity and just a bit of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Zeiss Trip CA 2010.