Archive for the 'sunset' Category


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? 


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.


11/18/2010: Snow Storm (goose)

From Texas to New Mexico: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Snow Geese. Sunset. A storm of wings against the blush of sky. I still have lots of birds from Texas left to share, but I can’t resist this from the first day at Bosque. Not that everyone who ever visited a Snow Goose wintering ground doesn’t have one just like it…but still. (I seem to remember a Steve Creek shot from a few months ago.)

Canon SX20IS. 560mm equivalent @ 1/125 @ ISO 800. Programed auto.

Fill Light in Lightroom. Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And the real storm, complete with sound effects.

10/30/2010: Sunset cape May, HDRs

There are not many spots on the east coast where you can photograph a sunset over what looks like the ocean. Cape May New Jersey is one of of them. I am staying at the Montreal, and the view from the sundeck above the 4th floor is pretty spectacular. The first shot is about 15 minutes before sunset, and the second is about 15 minutes after sunset.

And here are clouds over Delaware Bay a few moments later.

These are all three-exposure HDRs with the Canon SX20IS, blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix and final processed in Lightroom.

This is my first experiment with HDR for sunsets…I am wondering what you all think? In hindsight, I would like to attempt these again without the –2/3 EV exposure compensation that I use of daylight landscape, since the real challenge is getting a realistic light level on the foreground. Maybe I will get another chance before heading back to Maine.


10/6/2010: Jekyll island sunset

I still have lots of pics to share from my trip to Machias and Acadia National Park, and you will see some of them, but I can’t resist moving to Georgia today, since I am physically here on Jekyll Island this morning. Jekyll Island is a strange, beautiful place. You can read all about it on the Jekyll Island wiki page, or get the official version at

I went out last evening particularly to catch the sunset, but only got to the east side of the island before the lure of the reflected light on the clouds and the downed trees I knew littered the beach drew me to the side of the road and down a trail. I was not disappointed.

This is an HDR using 3 autobracketed shots from the Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, with the center of the range moved down 2/3s EV using exposure compensation. Normally I avoid HDR where there are waves along a shoreline (or any other moving subject), but with this particular kind of surf, a 3 shot HDR is possible, since the inevitable blurring of the moving water produces a interesting and attractive rendering.  The exposures were blended in Photomatix, and then the result was processed with Recovery, Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance and Sharpening in Lightroom. Color balance was also adjusted using the auto tool.

And here are two more shots from the same location, taken a few moments earlier. These are also HDRs, processed as above. the first is cropped for a more panoramic look.


9/17/2010: Parking Lot Sunset HDR

One of the big advantages of any phone-camera is that you pretty much always have it with you. If it is an iPhone, you also have the option of doing some really fancy stuff: HDR, Panorama, and Postprocessing in any number of creative apps.

This was taken with in the parking lot of our local grocery store on an after-supper milk run using the iPhone 4 and Pro HDR in manual mode (which allows you to pick your own light and dark points).  It was processed right on the iPhone in PhotoWizard using Auto Contrast, Unsharpmask, and Auto Color (enhance) filters, and uploaded to SmugMug with SmugShot.

Pretty good for a phone.

I did try cropping out the car and cart rack, and I messed with the Wide Angle distortion filter in PhotoFX, but I decided I actually like the context of the parking lot here, and PhotoFX introduced as much distortion as it cured. Sometimes it is good to leave well enough alone.



CapeMay (1 of 1)

Cape May Sunset

Happy Sunday! Just a quick post of a pic from yesterday’s World Series of Birding effort. Sunset after 36 plus hours awake :)  And still a glory. Cape May Lighthouse from Sunset Beach in Cape May.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/160th @ ISO 80. Landscape program. Exposure biased by tipping the camera up, locking exposure, and reframing.

In Lightroom, Recovery for the sky, Fill Light for the foreground, Blackpoint slightly right, added Clarity and Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

Not in a gallery yet.



A Little Pink on Your Blues

The first shot to make Pic of the Day from my new camera. I only had a few moments of daylight after work and I am in Virginia. Frustrating. But still…

What works for me here are the subtle colors and the pattern of detail from the reeds and grasses.

Canon SX20IS at about 70mm equivalent. F4.0 @ 1/60th @ ISO 160. Programmed auto.

Recovery in Lightroom. Fill Light and Blackpoint to the right. Added Clarity and Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From First Canon VA.



In honor of first snow of the season

We are predicted to have the first significant snow of the season tonight. So…I dug back in my archives to come up with a little something appropriate. This was taken at Laudholm Farms a few years back.

Sony DSC H9 at about 60mm equivalent. F5.,6 @ 1/320th @ ISO 100. Programmed Auto.

Added Clarity and Vibrance and Sharpen Landscapes in Lightroom. Today, if I were processing it, I would also slide the Blackpoint to the right slightly.

From Around Home Kennebunk ME.


Pic of the Day 11/14/2009



Road into Autumn Sunset

Today marks the one year anniversary of Pic of the Day, and I will have more to say on that…only…I am due on the bus for the Valley Salt Lakes fieldtrip at Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in way too few moments. I promise a pic and a full post by evening! It has been great. I look forward to a second year.


So, evening in Harlengen Texas, after a day of fieldtripping and optics talk at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, on the 1st anniversary of my Pic of the Day blog. What started as a casual series of posts on Twitter and FaceBook, morphed into a full fledged WordPress blog within the first month, and took on it’s current form after about 3 months.

What has kept me at it, as I have mentioned before, is that I am learning with every day’s pic. The process has made me much more aware of what I am doing in the field, while capturing images, and at the computer when processing images…and, maybe most importantly, how the two: camera work and computer work interconnect, cooperate, to produce the images that are important to me. Neither dominates. Both are important. Increasingly my knowledge of what I can do at the computer influences what I do with the camera. Of course, both camera and computer are used to capture and reproduce some semblance of what I see in nature…with the emphasis on the I.  Because, of course, I am creating an image…not capturing reality. Images play with different rules than reality…if you know what I mean. Different elements, different effects, matter. In the end we judge images by image standards, and similarity to reality is only one of them…and often not the most important among them.

Anyway. I have learned. I hope you have too. I intend to learn a lot more in the coming year. And I hope you will go along with me.

This image, by the way, was taken at the end of a sunset session at the beach. I had actually visualized the image on the way in. I simply drove till it looked right. Stopped in the middle of the road. Head the camera out the window one handed. And took the image.

Sony DSC H50 at 31mm equivalent. F4.5 @ 1/40th @ ISO 100. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, I added Vibrance and Clarity, moved the Blackpoint right, and used Sharpen Landscapes preset. I also increased exposure just slightly, and warmed the image slightly by adjusting color temperature.

From Around Home Kennebunk ME.