Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug
10

8/31/2010: English butterflies

Predictably, I spent my first day in England in a meeting room at the Greetham Valley Golf and Country Club (it was a working trip after all). We only got let out for lunch…and only 30 minutes at that due to a tight agenda. Still, when I got to the dinning room and looked out the window to see my first ever European Peacock butterfly, I had to run back to my room to get a camera with a longer lens! (Simon King, well known British naturalist and film-maker was among our number, and he identified the butterflies for me.) The wind was blowing hard and the rainy day light was subdued. The butterflies were hanging on the flowers for dear life as they tossed wildly about, and staying closed up tight most of the time in the wind. Still I managed a couple of more or less record shots of the Peacock (top) and the Little Tortoiseshell (bottom)…both life butterflies for me. And yes, I still managed to get my lunch down and back to the meeting room in time!

Long-tel-macro threw the background well out of focus for both shots. In the  top shot the butterfly is framed against the hill 300 yards behind, but even the leaves inches behind the Tortoiseshell show good bokeh. That is the magic of the long-tel-macro.

Canon SX20IS @ 560mm equivalent and macro @ 1) f5.7 @ 1/320th @ ISO 160 and 2) f5.7 @ 1/200th @ ISO 400. Programmed auto.

A bit of Recovery in Lightroom for the flowers, more than usual Fill Light for the colors in the wings in the subdued light, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Germany and England 2010.

30
Aug
10

8/30/2010: English Mushroom

Just a simple straightforward portrait of an interesting mushroom found on my walk through the golf courses at Greetham Valley Country Club in the UK. A view from slightly above ground level to catch as much of the form as possible, taken with the flip out LCD and a medium long tel-macro setting on the Canon SX20IS.  It is all about those curves and that texture! The clover head gives a bit a of scale. This was a big mushroom.

190mm equivalent field of view and Macro @ f5.0 @ 1/125th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, slight cropping for composition, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Germany and England 2010.

29
Aug
10

8/29/2010: Greetham Valley Country Club

Happy Sunday!

I visit the Oakham area of England once a year for the British Birding Fair, the largest gathering of birders in the known universe (for more on the BBF take a look at my post on the ZEISS blog). It is held at Rutland Water, a reservoir, which is home to the Anglian Water Reserve. Oakham, small sleepy one-pub town that it is, surrounded by small sleepy one-pub towns, is not exactly equipped for the annual inundation of birders. Those of us who have to stay there are for the three days fill every available hotel space. The local schools rent out space for sleeping bags on the gym floors. We used to stay at the Barnsdale Resort (not to be confused with the Barnsdale Lodge), on the hill overlooking Rutland Water on the other side from the Fair, but this year we moved to a golf club and convention center, a bit further away, near the village of Greetham.

And all that is to explain  why I have taken photos of a golf course…not something I am in the habit of doing…but during the BBF (which is work for me) I get only a few moments a day to consider photography…and it is my one visit a year to England, so I do, always, consider photography. I take what I can get, and within walking distance of the hotel this year, golf course was all you could get.

This is an HDR image from two exposures on the Canon SX20IS, combined in Photomatix Lite, and refined in Lightroom.

I actually like it, despite its obvious golf-courseishness, for the range of greens, and the variety of textures and shapes. No one can say the designer of the course was insensitive to the particular English beauty of the countryside. He (or she) preserved enough of the natural landscape and existing trees so that the native beauty comes through, and actually augmented it with the decorative pools and paths. Very English.

It is an idealized English landscape, under one of England’s typical skies, looking most like a well mannered 19th century painting on the drawing room wall.

I am tempted, being Sunday, to liken it to some folks vision of the Garden of Eden, but then all I would be left with saying is that, while I can appreciate its beauty and appeal, it is not mine. I’d like to think I could be at home in a much wilder Eden, without feeling the need to making it so homey…if you know what I mean.

But then, I am not a golfer, even of the Sunday variety.

28
Aug
10

8/28/2010: Good Night Wetzlar

One last shot from old town Wetzlar. The stone bridge, gables, and lighted shop windows, with the gloomy drama of the sky above. Without HDR treatment this shot would be impossible. To me it totally captures the feeling of the rainy evening as I headed back to the hotel, and says something about old town Wetzlar that I have felt, but never captured before.

Two shots with the Canon SX20IS separated by 3EV, and then tone-mapped blend in Photomatix. Final adjustments in Lightroom for Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance, and Sharpen. Perspective and distortion correction.

From Germany and England 2010.

27
Aug
10

8/27/2010: The Dom and the Bridge

It got later and later on my rainy evening walk through old town Wetzlar, but the evening light lasts a long time in Germany. I was headed back to the hotel when I made a last stop for this classic shot of the Dom above the stone bridge over the Lahn. Once more a shot I have taken many times, but never in this light, and never with HDR in mind. The drama of the cloud cap, the last light, the moisture in the air softening color and prespective, and elegant arches of the bridge set in rustic stone, the pastel gables of the old houses, and above it all the tower of the Dom (and that anachronistic blue polyester tarping). Quite a shot, even without the fairy light of the fountain on the trees at the right. Smile

Two radically different exposures allowed me to capture the light of the foreground and the gray of the sky, and Photomatix Lite put them together for a pretty remarkable effect (if I do say so myself).

A little help from my usual Lightroom routines (Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance, and Sharpen), and some perspective and distortion correction, and there it is.

Canon SX20 IS.

From Germany and England 2010.

26
Aug
10

8/26/2010

The Dom: Wetzlar, Germany

There is an interesting story, of course, behind the Dom…the not quite cathedral of old Wetzlar. The original church was built in the 1300s, but as the city of Wetzlar grew (salt and iron), the town fathers found the ambition to be a cathedral city, and began to build a new church around the walls of the old. That’s how they did it then…they literally built the new building with the old one inside it. Before it was completed, Wetzlar fell on hard times, and construction was abandoned. It was restarted, as I remember the story, 3 separate times in the next 200 years, as the fortunes and ambitions of the town and the town fathers waxed and waned, each time with a new architect and a new style.  It never was finished. There were supposed to be two towers, and inside the church there are doorways half way up blank walls where new floors had been planned and never installed. And yet, because of that, it is one of the most interesting churches in Germany, containing as it does, written in stone, a record of the changing styles in church architecture over almost 3 centuries.

Sitting high on the hill on which old Wetzlar is built, the Dom dominates the skyline from any direction, but it is actually not easy to find a good spot for photography. This is a classic distant shot, taken from the long park along the River Lahn, beyond the stone bridge, again on my one rainy late evening of photography on this trip to Wetzlar. In this light, and with that sky, it certainly has drama. What you see is a Photomatix HDR rendered from two Canon SX20IS wide angle exposures. (The blue on the tower is not a lens or sensor flaw. There is scaffolding the full height of the tower where they are repairing and reinforcing the walls, and it is, characteristically, covered in bright blue polyester tarps.)

After blending and tone-mapping in Photomatix Lite, I did my usual Blackpoint adjustment, added Clarity and Vibrance, and sharpen in Lighroom. Some perspective adjustment was also applied.

From Germany and England 2010.

25
Aug
10

8/25/2010

Giessen Backyard

Still rainy days in Germany when I took this shot. I visited a colleagues home in Giessen in the early German evening, and while he discussed roof repairs with his contractor, I looked around for photo options. This is taken straight down from a balcony on the second floor. I like it as an abstract…the contrast of colors and textures and forms.

Canon SD4000IS at 28mm equivalent field of view @ f2.8 @ 1/100th @ ISO 200. Programmed auto.

Adjusted Blackpoint, added Clarity and Vibrance, sharpen, and auto white balance in Lightroom.

From Germany and England 2010.