Archive for the 'clouds' Category

22
Feb
11

2/22/2011: Flood Tide on the Mousam HDR 1

While I am not done with the digiscoped birds from Merritt Island, I, for one, need a break. Yesterday morning we had fresh snow, and as the front passed away out to sea in the afternoon, some spectacular skies. Add as high a flood tide as I have ever seen along the coast here and you have the makings of some HDR landscapes, or sea-scapes, or river-scapes…some-scape with a lot of water and sky.

This image walks a fine line, to my eye, between natural and over-the-top. It presents a reality that is there, but that, without the emphasis of HDR and tone-mapping, many people would not see. It is the reality a painter records when painting such a landscape…an image built up in the mind over time, as the details and the colors catch the attention one by one, as the shadows and reflections on the water burn in to the awareness. It is not what you see at a glance or in the moment, and therefore perhaps strikes the eye as not strictly photographic. It is something between a painting and a photograph. I don’t, in fact, know if any such space exists, and, even in my own mind, the jury is still out on HDR and tone-mapping…but I do know that I like this image. I like the drama of it…the vivid world it portrays…the intensity. It is just so alive on an lcd monitor, with the light behind it. I like it.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent field of view. Three exposures centered around –2/3 EV, assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix, final processing for intensity and clarity in Lightroom. Some distortion control and a bit of noise reduction (generally needed in HDR) as well.

26
Dec
10

12/26/2010: Mousam Full of Light

Happy Sunday! Happy day after Christmas. Happy Boxing Day.

After our brief snowstorm last week, the sky lightened and the light grew as the sun peaked out off and on, and the world, just for a few moments, glittered and sparkled with what seemed an inner light. With temperatures rapidly rising to the upper 30s, the snow on the trees came literally and figuratively raining down. I attempted to find a spot to catch the light before it passed.

We are having unusually high tides the past week, with the full moon, coastal runoff, and onshore winds, and here we see the lower Mosuam River filled brim to brim. Where I stood to take the image, you generally look out over a relatively dry marsh to the river which runs, in perspective, not far in front of the trees and houses on the far side. The trees at the right are generally 300 yards from water, even at high tide.

But, of course, what really caught my eye was the sky and the light in the water, the silvery blue expanse, full of texture and movement, running back under that strong diagonal mass of cloud…and the highlight behind the bare trees on the right.

To capture this range of light with my Canon SX20IS, I resorted to HDR, three exposures centered around –2/3 EV, then assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro from within Lightroom. Final processing for intensity and clarity, some sharpening, and a bit of distortion adjustment for the horizon, produced the result above.

The Sunday thought?…in less than an hour we went from the quiet beauty of falling snow and misty light, a soft intimate world where even the sounds are muted…to this splash of glory, noisy with light and drama…as overfilled and overflowing as the banks of the Mousam. And that is a metaphor for the well developed spiritual life. From the babe in the manger to the transfiguration and the assentation, and all in-between, all part of our experience, coming in waves along the stream of time. All we have to do is to be open to all of it. There is beauty in every moment.

11
Dec
10

12/11/2010: Bosque sky (Scenery for Saturday)

One of those dominating New Mexico, Bosque del Apache skies, and my Scenery for Saturday offering.

Canon SX20IS @ 28mm equivalent. 3 exposure HDR, auto bracketed around –2/3 EV, assembled and tonemapped in Photomatix, processed in Lightroom.

And, just to the left.

Another HDR treatment.

04
Dec
10

12/4/2010: Bosque morning

Time for some straight up Bosque del Apache scenery. Mid-morning layered landscape HDR. The temporarily flooded fields are a Bosque feature, a way of managing where the geese and cranes feed. The geese, in particular, love to feed on the seeds and roots that flooding makes available. In this case either the field was newly flooded and the geese had not discovered it yet, or it was flooded long enough already that the geese had eaten everything they could find. Still…it adds the mirror layer to the landscape.

Three exposure HDR, Canon SX20IS at about 70mm equivalent, autobracketed around –2/3 EV exposure compensation, assembled in Photomatix Pro using the Lightroom plugin and final processed in Lightroom.

28
Nov
10

11/28/2010: Crane at Sunset

Happy Sunday!

Bosque del Apache Sunsets can be spectacular (see last Sunday’s post), especially if you are where the Cranes and Geese are coming in to roost for the night. At some point in the process I stopped shooting the sunset itself and started trying to catch cranes as they passed in front. This shot was intentionally exposed for the silhouetted crane and the amazing colors of the sky.

Canon SX20IS at about 500mm equivalent. f5.7 @ 1/640th @ ISO 800. Sports program.

Processed for intensity and silhouette effect in Lightroom. Chromatic aberrations corrected and noise reduced.

And, for my Sunday thought: sometimes all we can see is silhouettes against the persistent glory that illuminates our world, at least to the eyes of faith. And sometimes that is all we need to see. A speck of present life, even in silhouette, provides the perspective we need to face the future with confidence.

But maybe that is a bit much to hang on a crane against the sunset? 

26
Nov
10

11/26/2010: Watchers under Bosque sky

A frosty morning at Bosque del Apache NWR, with amazing clouds. This is a three exposure HDR, only possible with people in it because these folks were so intent on photographing the geese and cranes in the field in front of them that they did not move at all.

One of my commenters on a listserve (yahoogroups) that I post to objected to my leaving the photographers in what is obviously a picture of the sky. I think the tension in the photo, and what caught my eye as much as the clouds, is the fact that the watchers are so intent on the geese and crane show in front of them that they are totally oblivious to the show happing overhead!

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. Three exposures auto bracketed at –2/3 EV, ISO 160, assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix, processed for intensity in Lightroom. (I actually had to tone it down a bit by increasing exposure as the clouds were, imho, over-dramatic.)

21
Nov
10

11/21/2010: Bosque Sunset HDRs

Happy Sunday!

I went out after my day of work manning the ZEISS booth at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro NM, to digiscope Prairie Dogs in the last light of early evening, but the PD town was already closed down for the day. There was not even a single sentry on guard.

So I headed back to town and supper. Of course I had to pass right by three flooded fields where the Sandhill Cranes come in for the night, right at or around sunset. And, on day like yesterday, the sunset itself is a show. I stopped and parked and waited. As the sun sank, the parking lot filled with folks who had the same idea. During the festival, sunset parking is at a premium anywhere on the refuge, and they actually take buses in to particularly choice vantage-points otherwise inaccessible to the public. People pay $5.00 to ride the bus.

What you have here are three HDR shots: southwest in line with the sun, north along ridge that hides the mountains behind, and southeast where a larger mass of clouds behind the mountains took the color. The top shot is the last I took, just before the color died, when it was at its most intense.

I find it hard to believe that there are people anywhere who would not be moved by such a sunset, with or without the spectacle of the returning cranes. Such awful, such awe-filled, beauty in the fire in the sky at day’s end…there are no words for what it says to our souls…but there is no doubt that it speaks.

When the color died, everyone got back in their cars, or boarded the buses, and headed back to town. Route 1 is a steady stream of tail-lights for 8 miles into San Antonio. From the air it must look something like the cranes coming into the roost for the night 🙂

I am not sure what the Sunday thought is in the Bosque sunsets, but I certain it is there. Being there, along the dyke by the flooded field, and knowing that people were gathered all over the refuge to witness the same sight, with the air filled with the “music” of the cranes and geese, as the sky colored and as the color died, was very like being part of a worshiping congregation. I know who I worship, and I find it hard to believe that in those moments, we aren’t all, whether we acknowledge it or not, caught up in the same act of worship. Our awe may be as variously colored as the three images above, but it is the same awe, our birthright and our heritage as human beings…children of love.

Canon SX20IS. Three exposures per image, auto bracketed at minus 2/3EV, assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix, processed in Lightroom.

07
Nov
10

11/7/2010: in the frame now, happy Sunday!

I woke this Sunday morning from a dream of worship…that in itself is odd…though I do have a few of those dreams each year, and I suppose Sunday morning is appropriate for one…but before I was fully awake this post formed, and now, up and at the computer, all I have to do is build what I saw.

At my best as a photographer I am only a frame and an instant.

I am a frame. All I do is point the frame of the camera’s rectangular view at the world. Today I use the zoom on the camera to  change the size of the frame…make it bigger and more inclusive, more grand…or smaller and more particular, more intimate. I can move in close for a true macro of lichen, or add magnification by shooting through a spotting scope for portraits of sparrows. I can zoom out to wide-angle for the sunrise. I can even stitch frames together into the larger frame of a panorama. But whatever I do, it is still a frame…a little rectangle imposed on reality. The frame says “This is what I see. Look!” I am a frame.

I am an instant. I control when I push the shutter button. I choose the instant, and it is only an instant…a fraction of a second, when the camera records, for better or worse, whatever is in the frame. Even if I shoot a burst of images, as I often do when digiscoping birds, I still have to pick the one instant out of all those instants that I want to show the world. The instant says “This is what I see now. Look” I am an instant.

I do not fill the frame, I can only point it. I do not create the instant. I can only choose it. But in those two choices is all the power of photography.

The rest is just technique.

This is what I see now. Look!

I don’t of course, know what you see when you look at one of my photographs. I can hope that if I have done my job, you will see something that captures your attention…maybe even something that stirs your soul, that moves within you and touches places that need touching. At best, looking at what I see might open your eyes to something you would not otherwise have seen. It might change the way you see the world. That is the power of photography at its best.

I took pictures for a long time before I knew what I was looking for…what fills my frames and draws me to the instants I choose. Interestingly enough, the actual photographs did not change much, if at all. One day I knew why as well as what and when.

And that brings us full circle. As I have said, I am sure, on more than one Sunday in the past, my why is worship. What fills my frame in the ever-changing now is always some aspect of the beauty…the awe-full beauty, the intimate splendor, the wonderful power, the amazing compassion…of the Creator God displayed in the creation. Every picture is a celebration of that in God and that in me that brings the world to being through love. I frame those instants, from macro to panorama, when I am most aware of God. That is worship. That is my why.

So, this is what I see, now. Look.

04
Nov
10

11/4/2010: Cape May Point pond reflections

Just a week ago in Cape May NJ: The front approaching that pushed all the birds in on Friday and Saturday. The main pond at Cape May Point State Park, from the boardwalk behind the Hawk Watch platform. There were birds aplenty and I was there to digiscope, but that does not mean I turn a blind eye to the other splendors nature has to offer. Interesting sky, eye-catching fall foliage, interesting reflections, interesting water, for many layers of interest.

This is a three exposure HDR using auto-bracket on the Canon SX20IS, with the center of the bracket range shifted down 2/3 EV using exposure compensation. ISO 125 at the wide angle (28mm equivalent) setting.

Blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix. Processed with a bit of Fill Light, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and some Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset in Lightroom.

31
Oct
10

10/31/2010: Cape May Sunrise hdr Panorama

Happy Sunday!

Looking east from the sundeck of the Montreal Inn in Cape May a few moments before sunrise, yesterday.

Sunrises, I think, touch a special place in the soul, and, of course there is noting like a sunrise over the ocean where you can see right out to the edge of the world. On a morning like this, even if just for a second there, it takes a hard heart indeed…or one deeply troubled, beaten well down…not to embrace the cliché: every new day is a miracle. It is easy for the hopeful to take such beauty at the beginning as a promise of the potential of the day. And, of course, part of the wonder comes from the fact that every sunrise is not so spectacular. Our lives don’t always allow us to see the sunrise at all, and there are days when the sun just sneaks up behind clouds (literal or figurative) with no display (or none we can see). So we have reason to celebrate the moments like this one. The moment itself is a gift from the creator, and so is the ability to appreciate it.

On the technical side, this is a 9 exposure HDR panorama: 3 sets of 3 exposures blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix, the results stitched in PhotoShop Elements, and the the panorama final processed in Lightroom. Best viewed as large as your monitor will take it.