Archive for the 'grass' Category


2/21/2011: pampas?

Not really, of course, since this is north Florida. A few miles east of Titusville on route 50 there is a major conservation area, practically unmarked, between the road and the river: Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area. I’d never heard of it, but I saw the sign on my way back from an abortive trip to Orlando Wetlands (still closed for hunting, apparently, even in January) and turned around to go back for a look. It was late afternoon, with storms coming on, but I took a nice, if lonely walk back in from the road for a mile or so. There was nothing much doing…just acres of open grassland with tree cover and small patches of swampy forest along what was apparently and old road.

This small stand of mixed grasses along the way struck me as somehow exotic, like something from a savanna or the pampas, hence the title. Of course I have never visited either, so it is no more than a feeling based on who knows what set of impressions from film, tv, magazines and books. Until I went for the title, I didn’t even know I knew what a pampas was. 🙂 And I had to google it to be sure. Argentina? Okay.

Of course what really caught my eye was the mixture of textures, curves, and subtle colors, built up around those darker feathery heads. I used a medium long telephoto setting on the SX20IS zoom to frame an interesting pattern, and then cropped in Lightroom to eliminate some distraction at the top.

Canon SX20IS at 380mm equivalent field of view, f5 @ 1/400th @ ISO 200. Landscape program.

Processed in Lighroom for intensity and clarity.

And a happy Presidents’ Day to you!


12/27/2010: Snow on the Little

As I post this snow-storm image from last week, we are in the middle of our first real blizzard of the winter in Maine. It is not light enough to see the damage yet, but the wind is howling around the house and there is snow stuck in the window screens. It is not scheduled to pass off until late afternoon. Should be interesting. 10-18 inches of snow. Watch this space!

This shot, however was during a much more gentle storm, as you can see from the snow built up on the branches. This is one of my favorite views at Rachel Carson NWR, where the Little River makes it’s classic “S” bend on its way to the sea. It is an all weather view, just as attractive here in the snow with snow closing the horizon, as it is in full summer with a dramatic sky.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, f2.8 @ 1/200th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Processed in Lightrooom for intensity and clarity, and adjusted for brightness.


12/22/2010: first snow on the marsh

As I mentioned in a previous post, it has been a long dull season between fall foliage and first snow this year in Maine, so, of course, I had to run out at the first actual snow on the ground and get a few shots. This snow was gone by noon, melted back into a relatively warm earth (though we are promised more flurries today and tomorrow, and maybe a significant storm on the weekend).

This is a three exposure HDR. I am backing off a bit on HDR, but here it works to bring up the detail and extend the range in what is still dull light (it was still snowing). Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, three exposures, auto bracketed at –2/3rds EV. Assembled and custom tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro, and processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom.

And, for interest, here is the same shot, processed in Lightroom to Black and White, using the Green Filter preset. It has a strength and beauty of its own.


12/12/2010: Wide-eyed

Happy Sunday!

I went out yesterday morning, while waiting for my new laptop to arrive, looking for some images…without a lot of hope. It is the nothing season, long this year, between fall foliage and snow. The trees are bare. Even the oak leaves are down. The grasses are brown. The air is cold. There is a sense of waiting: waiting for something to happen to move the season along.

And yet, there were things of interest out there. The light on this little patch of frozen marsh, and the texture of the frost. The contrasts of white birch and evergreen. The hint of red in the brush on the left.Delicate, but, I think, beautiful.

And, of course, the lesson here is that every season has its beauty…if you have the eyes to see it. One of my favorite scriptures is Luke 11:34, here from the Message Bible: Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.”

And that is my ambition. To live wide-eyed in wonder and belief. To fill up with light. And that’s a good Sunday thought, and enough to go on with any day.

Canon SX20IS @ 45mm equivalent, f4 @ 1/320 @ ISO 80. Landscape mode.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom. 



9/24/2010: Back Creek iPhone HDR

Early morning light along Back Creek where it meets the Mousam River. This is an iPhone 4 HDR. With the 4.1 upgrade to iOS, HDR is now built into the iPhone camera, but, though very fast, it is pretty mild compared to the effects that you can get with the dedicated ProHDR app. The built in variety is great for opening shadows in difficult lighting, but for dramatic landscapes ProHDR is the app you want.

I am learning where HDR is appropriate and where it is not. This shot, for instance, did not benefit all that much from the HRD treatment, and I probably could have achieved the same results with a standard exposure and post processing…and there are a growing number of excellent post processing apps for the iPhone.

In this case, I straightened the horizon, sharpened the image, tweaked the color temperture, and adjusted shadows and highlights in PhotoWizard. The tools (filters) in PhotoWizard will be familiar to anyone who has worked with any variety of PhotoShop or most other dedicated image processing applications.

This version, with a bit more sky, made more of the HDR treatment.


9/9/2010: Earl’s footprints

The storm surge from Earl, on the high tide, was not over a foot in Maine, but it was enough, and carried enough extra energy, so that where the water was sucked back out to sea over the marsh, it left a track of grass swirled, combed down, and left all akimbo. Add the low, early morning sun on the heavy dew, and the heather along side, and you have a study in texture and light. I used a moderate zoom setting to frame.

Canon SX20IS at 60mm equivalent @ f4.0 @ 1/640th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

A bit of Fill Light in Lightroom. Blackpoint right. Added Clarity and Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Earl Passes By: Kennebunk ME.



Cotton Grass

(Still in Germany)

On the bog in August, about the only thing blooming (or looking like it is blooming), is the Cotton Grass. These tuffs of cottony fiber with their attendant spears dot the marsh and provide contrast with the blueberries that make up the mass of the surface vegetation. I got down low, using Macro on the SD4000IS for this shot (really missed the swing out LCD on the SX20IS!).

Canon SD4000IS at 28mm equivalent and macro. F2.8 @ 1/640th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Saco Heath.



Water Meadow

Along the Mousam River near its mouth, several little streams come in from the north, generally winding, as this one does, through an open area of tidal mash. These meadows were actually a big attraction for early settlers, who put cattle and sheep on them, and even harvested the hay. They are the reason for the salt water farms of colonial times.

Of course my interest in them is that they remain rich in both plant diversity and wildlife. Many, like this one, are protected by one conservation organization or another. They are one of my favorite summer haunts (despite the mosquitoes!).

This is another Canon SX20IS and Photomatix HDR. Two exposures, at full 28mm wide angle equivalent, one dialed down on the Exposure Compensation dial for the sky, and one dialed up for the foreground. Combined in Photomatix using the Enhanced Detail: Tone Mapping Mode with tweaked controls. Final processing in Lightroom for sharpness, Clarity, Vibrance, and Blackpoint (slightly right). Cropped at the top to eliminate some clouds that were moving too fast for the two exposure technique (they looked shadowed…almost 3D…when over-laid in Photomatix). The sky, of course, makes it (along with the bit of reflection in the stream)! Look at it large on Wide Eyed In Wonder.

From Around Home 2010.



Marsh Light

Another shot from my Saturday outing, and another Canon SX20IS and Photomatix HDR. Two shots.

Just a very quiet domestic scene with a touch of wild in the marsh in the foreground, and some drama in the clouds. Or so I hope. The tension between the elements is of interest to me.

From a technical standpoint, the trick was to take both shots with no cars visible on the busy road that passes between the house and barn…and of course I was trying to do this handheld. A tripod would make HDR much easier…but then I’d have to carry the tripod. Sad smile 

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. 1) 1250th @ f7.1 @ ISO 80, 2) 1/400th @ f4 @ ISO 80. Exposure compensation dial used to change the exposure by eye for the clouds and landscape.

In Photomatix, enhanced detail, tone mapping blend, with the settings tweaked by eye for the desired result. I am still very much learning to use Photomatix.

In Lightroom, a touch of Fill Light and Blackpoint to the right, added Clarity and Vibrance and Sharpen narrow edges preset. Cropped at the top to constrain the sky.

From Around Home 2010.



No Name Creek: iPhone HDR

So I admit to still being slightly amazed and muchly delighted that the iPhone can do this! Such a great toy. Of course it is actually rapidly becoming a tool…just another piece of equipment with its set of inherent possibilities that I can bring to bear on photo opportunities. It is still all about the eye. That is not to diminish the simulative effect of a new toy. Having the HDR program and a decent camera on my iPhone certainly stimulates my eye to look for possible HDR-worthy scenes, and leads me to compositions I might not have attempted with my standard gear. This shot, for instance would have required considerable manipulation in post processing to pull off. The iPhone just makes it easy.

Lots to like here (imho), beginning with the range of tones in the foreground water…the way the camera has captured the play of light across the surface and even where it penetrates the water to bring up the creek bottom. That, to my eye, is way cool! Then we roll back over the various textures and green tones of the marsh grass, lead by the curve of the creek, to the horizon and the little bit of beach balanced between the dark mass of houses on the left and the few trees on the right, and then we shoot out over the ocean under a ceiling of clouds that recedes to infinity, with the blue of the sky pinning us to the top of the frame.

Of course, I did not think or see any of this when taking the picture. I did not get much beyond “I like that. Wonder what it would look like as an iPhone HDR?”

Captured and processed on the iPhone 4. Two exposures in ProHDR, one metered and focused on a bright cloud at the top, one metered and focused on the shadow under the bank of the stream in the left foreground. Levels and sharpen in PhotoGene, and the red channel pulled back a bit. Uploaded direct to Wide Eyed In Wonder in SmugShot.

From iPhone 4 HDR and Pano.