Archive for the 'color' 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.

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06
Feb
11

2/6/2011: Rosehip in the Snow, Parson’s Beach

Happy Sunday! A play of textures, set off by the contrast between the brilliant red of the rosehip and the white of the snow. I also like the way the red of the rosehip has absorbed enough heat from the sun to melt the snow around it and create a little frame for itself. The thorns, to my eye, give it an extra appeal.

For this shot I used the tele-macro on the Canon SX20IS, shooting from a standing position and well back, but still getting the macro effect. 560mm equivalent field of view, f5.7 @ 1/800th @ ISO 80. Snow Mode.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom. Cropped from the left to eliminate a distracting out of focus twig, and from the right slightly to more or less restore “rule of thirds” composition.

This is part of the sequence of grand snowscapes I shot on Friday. You saw one of them yesterday, taken only a few moments before. As part of my photographic discipline I have trained myself to always, in every situation, spend at least some time looking down, looking close, thinking small…even when the grand vista is compelling. There is often something worth my attention right at my feet. No…there is almost always something interesting right at my feet, if I take the time to look. And often, looking close produces an image which opens out with as much contrast and texture and pattern as the full landscape.

Without trying to stretch the metaphor too much, I think there is a spiritual truth there. I would not like to think that, in the grand and thrilling sweep of eternal values that opens to the spiritual eye, I would ever lose the intimate details, the small beauty of what is right at my feet. The poets say the universe is contained in a single grain of sand…or, say I, in a rosehip in the snow.

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? 

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.

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.

24
Oct
10

10/24/2010: reflections of fall

Happy Sunday!

My daughter was accompanist for a young lady in a voice competition at Bates College yesterday, and I was chauffer. I had my laptop with me to do some video processing, but first, of course, I took a walk around the campus to see what I could see. There is a decorative pond right next to the Olin Arts Center, and between the morning light, the lingering fall colors, and just enough wind to fracture the surface of the water, the reflections were irresistible. Here they are set off by the foreground cattails.

Canon SX20IS zoomed in to about 160mm equivalent for framing, f4.5 @ 1/200 @ ISO 200. Landscape program.

Some Fill Light for the foreground in Lightroom, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and some Vibrance, Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And here is a shot, similar processing, zoomed out to a little over 300mm to isolate just the reflections.

Which leads me to my Sunday reflection: I like both the bold splash of color across the wind fractured water, abstract because there is no particular resting place for the eye, a subject in itself, but hard to hold on to…and the way the mundane cattails in the foreground capture your eye and instantly put that glory firmly in the background. It is the way of life, isn’t it? Always confronted by the fractured reflection of the glory of eternity, our eyes are caught by the detail right in front of us…which should still, if we are seeing right, be displayed against that backdrop of glory. 

Smile

17
Oct
10

10/17/2010: Autumn marsh pools

Happy Sunday!

You have seen variations of this scene before. This little stretch of old rail bed, known as the Bridle Path for some reason, that runs through a isolated patch of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (Rachel Carson is one of the most fragmented NWRs) between Route 9 and the ocean along the lower Mousam River in Kennebunk Maine (to be precise), never fails to turn up something of interest. I digiscoped a lot of birds and chipmunks there this summer, found my first Wood Lily and Wood Nymph, and this fall this particular view over the marsh pools toward the trees and houses along route 9 has often been interesting. See 9/23/2010: hdr marsh pool panorama or 9/13/2010: marsh mirror sky. Here the fall weeds in the foreground add yet another layer to a layered landscape, and a 3 exposure HDR treatment captures an unusual range of light and shadow to render the scene very close that what the eye actually sees (at least the eye of a painter). HDR skies are dramatic, but its ability to maintain detail in the shadows of the foreground and to pull full color out of the the fall foliage is what makes it worth the effort in this image.

Being Sunday, I return to how fruitful this particular little patch of out of the way ground has been for me this year…how often I have have been blessed (given an unexpected and underserved gift) there, and how often I have been blissed (opened to the joy of contact with the creator through creation). In many ways this has been my church this year, from late winter to deep fall, just as much as the building with the steeple down the road, and my moments of worship there have been just as vital to me, though solitary. I am thankful. In so many ways.

Smile

Technically, this is a 3 exposure HDR at 28mm equivalent on the Canon SX20IS, using auto-bracket with the center of the range shifted down 2/3s EV. Exposures blended in Photomatix and final processing (including a bit of distortion control which was needed because of the odd angle of the lens to the landscape) in Lightroom.