Archive for the 'morning' Category


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


9/20/2010: Dew wapa dew

I was there to do some HDR of the sky and beach…but when something like this is on offer, it would be most ungrateful not to take a moment to work it. And gratitude is a central tenet of my photographic method…or maybe philosophy…whatever. I try not to pass up any opportunity.

I like the dew on the spider web, but it is not easy to catch in a way that does justice to its native impression. Here the rose-hips, withered and ripe, are a definite bonus, providing a secondary focus at the strong point of the composition.

Canon SX20IS at 400mm equivalent and macro. F5.0 @ 1/400th @ ISO 80. Programmed auto.

Recovery on Lightroom for the highlights on the web, Blackpoint adjustment, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And, of course, when I say work it, I mean more than one exposure and angle.

This shot is cropped just a bit, both by zooming out to 560mm equivalent, and in Lightroom (from the bottom).


Flipping out the lcd for a low angle shot, and zooming to around 500mm, gives an alternative view, again cropped in Lightroom.

Like I said…make the most of any opportunity!


9/12/2010: Self Portrait in the Shadow of Earl

Happy Sunday!

The morning after Hurricane Earl passed by Southern Maine was still showery and very windy, with lots of moisture hanging in the air and some high clouds building where a cold front pushed the storm further out to sea. I was out early to see what could be seen. The whole marsh behind Parson’s Beach, where Back Creek, here still full with the flood tide, flows to the Mousam, looked, in the early morning light, like it had been tousled by the retreating waves (see 9/9/2010)…producing interesting textures and patterns in the wet grasses. Here I attempted to set off the marsh patterns with a touch of vivid color from the rose-hips.

In doing so, I inadvertently created a self portrait. I try to keep my shadow out of landscapes, but for this shot I intentionally left it in. Can you see me in the rose bush? I will give you a clue…I am wearing a Tilley hat with a wide brim.

And, of course, every image I capture and publish is a self-portrait, whether I caught my shadow or not. I can not avoid intruding on the landscape I photograph…and there you go:  “avoid” and “intrude” are already casting the matter in the wrong light.

Myself, the way I see and respond, is what I bring to the image…my gift…my contribution to creation…to the creation. All any photograph says is “I saw this and it moved me…I wanted to show it to you too.” And the only honest response to any photograph is “I see it. I see what you were looking at, and why it moved you.” When the photograph is truly great, we can also say “It moved me too!”

Of course, what is moved in us is not shadow, but light…which is, I guess, why I try to keep my shadow off the landscape.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent @ f4.0 @ 1/640th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Recovery in Lightroom for the sky and clouds, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, Sharpen narrow edges, and slight crop from the bottom for composition.


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.



Summer Morning: River Meets the Sea

Saturday morning I headed out to my favorite birding and digiscoping spot, along the Kennebunk Bridle Path where it crosses Route 9 by the Mousam River bridge. It was one of those clear, cool, summer mornings after days of heat, with bright sun and broken cloud cover and I was hoping to do some more iPhone HDR experimentation. When I got out of the car to set up my scope, I realized that my iPhone was back home on the charger. No HDR today!

But then, as I mounted my digiscoping camera and walked in toward the marsh I was thinking…all I am really doing with the iPhone is taking two exposures, one for bright (sky generally) and one for dark (foreground landscape generally). I could do that with my SX20IS…and actually it might even be a bit easier since I could use the exposure compensation dial…or even the auto exposure bracket built into the camera.

All the magic is in the software. Maybe I could download the images to the iPhone and use Pro HDR to combine them…or, failing that…surely there must be some software available to do it on the laptop. I just got an upgrade notice from Adobe on PhotoShop Elements 8…and didn’t that mention some kind of HDR?

So I took a bunch of experimental images using both the exposure compensation dial, judging exposure by eye, and auto bracket. Auto bracket on the SX20IS does three exposures, 1EV either side of center (you can shift the center point along the scale but you can not increase the range). By eye, I judged 1 EV to be too little compensation for the sky with clouds, though about right for the landscape, and, indeed that’s how it worked out when I came to process the images.

Back home, I found that even if I downloaded the images to the iPhone, they were just too large for Pro HDR to handle (not surprising since Pro HDR expected maximum 5mp images form the iPhone camera). Plan B.

I always try to find a free program first, and I downloaded what looked like the best of then. No. Did not work. So, after some more research, I downloaded the trial version of Photomatix Lite and gave that a try. Excellent. As easy as Pro HDR on the iPhone, and in “enhanced detail: tone mapping mode” it provides a very similar set of adjustments, and, with care, similar results. Best of all, it does the auto alignment of the images just as Pro HDR does, which makes shooting HDR handheld possible. I bought it.

And after all that…the image for today is my first Photomatix HDR. I still find that Pro HDR produces more natural results as its default, but you can achieve the same results with Photomatix with some tweaking of the controls. On the other hand, it is possible in Photomatix to do the massively overblown HDR thing too. I am not tempted that way, but I can understand the temptation.

I took the Photomatix processed HDR into Lightroom and made final adjustments…Blackpoint right, some added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

So, one more tool…one more set of imaging possibilities to bring to the landscape.



Fog Early Along the Coast

A typical August weather report, here in July. Flood tide on Back Creek, behind Parson’s Beach in Kennebunk, Maine. Trying for a sense of depth, even with a closed horizon, by including the few scraggly roses in the foreground. The passing seagull was just a bonus.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4.0 @ 1/60th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

Heavy Recovery to add some transparency to the fog, a touch of Fill Light for the foreground. Blackpoint right for intensity. Added Clarity and just a tiny amount of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset. Finally, I used a Graduated Filter effect drawn down across the top 2/3s of the image to darken the fog so it appears more like it did to the eye.

From Around Home 2010.