Archive for the 'weather' Category

05
Feb
11

2/5/2011: Great Hill from Parson’s Beach, Kennebunk

A break from the unrelenting diet of birds, birds, birds of the past two weeks, and a return to my current reality…snowy, snowy Maine. We now have, after another foot fell on Wednesday, and taking into account settling and melting (sublimation actually, since the snow is going directly from ice to vapor without ever being water) about 3 and a half feet of snow standing in our front yard. What you see here is a healthy stand of beach rose. The tallest of those plants tops five feet. This is a perspective shot taken at moderate telephoto. Great Hill with its houses is about an eighth of a mile behind the dune and snow buried rosehips in the foreground, on the far side of the Mousam River.

Canon SX20IS at about 70mm equivalent field of view, f4.5 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 80. Snow Mode.

Processed in Lightroom for intensity and clarity.

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21
Oct
10

10/21/2010: Cadillac cloud event

Our most recent trip to Acadia was not Cadillac Summit weather. We had mostly rain and mist and fog, and then fog and mist and rain. It was beautiful, of course, and we enjoyed it as much as any trip so far. But it really looked like we would finally make an Acadia visit without a drive up the winding road to the summit of Cadillac.

The last day there, after hiking in the heavy fog around Jordan Pond, and a pop-over lunch at the Jordan Pond House where our daughter who works there got to wait on us (lucky her) and we got fully fed, we started for home and suddenly, just before the Cadillac turn-off, drove right out of the fog and into sun. Looking up we could see the summit, standing out clear against a blue sky. Who could resist?

As we drove up though, it became obvious that we were racing the front. The fog was literally boiling up the south flank of the mountain on a strong wind ahead of the mass of fog and cloud that closed the whole south east horizon like a wall, and already hid the mountains behind us. The first wisps were crossing the summit as I got out of the car. It was the strangest thing. A clot of cloud would tear of the front of the cloud mass, which itself was moving so fast you see it come, and race on ahead of the mass across the summit like a living thing…boiling and rolliing, twisting into a thousand shapes as the irregular mass of the summit and its complicated air-currents caught it and tossed it every which way as it passed. The wind was so strong I could barely stand to take a picture. I tried to catch several of the cloud things (cloud beings) as they passed, but this (above) is the best I could do.

I finally turned, just ahead of the on coming mass of cloud, for the car…grabbing this shot as I passed. In less than 30 seconds I was in cloud where I stood.

I am sure it is not all that uncommon an occurrence on Cadillac summit…but it was the first time I had experienced it. My only regret is that I totally forgot to shoot some video of it!

Canon SX20 IS. Post processing in Lightroom.

14
Oct
10

10/14/2010: jordan pond in fog

I have photographed Jordan Pond and the Bubbles in all weathers. It is the one hike (walk?) we never miss on any trip to Acadia National Park, partially because of its proximity to the Jordan Pond House, and a pop-over lunch (and where we generally have at least one daughter working), but mostly because it never fails to delight. This last trip we had a foggy early fall day to work with, and it was still beautiful.

Canon SX20IS all at 28mm equivalent, f4 @ ISO 80, Landscape program, and 1/200th, 1/400th, and 1/320th respectively.

Similar processing in Lightroom including heavy Recovery to restore transparency to the fog, Blackpoint right slightly, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset. The last shot, with the lens of the camera tipped well down, required some distortion correction to bring the water horizon back somewhere near level.

07
Oct
10

10/7/2010: Great meadow / fall fire

In lean times I would definitely make four posts out of this series. The fact is that my trip to Machias and Bar Harbor, though the weather was not what you think of as photogenic, was very productive. I have a lot of images I want to share.

This is Great Meadow in Acadia National Park (more a marsh than a meadow) as the first of the fall colors are just beginning to show. Young maples and birches, in low wet ground, always take fire first.

Canon SX20IS at various zoom settings for framing. The last image is a three exposure HDR using Photomatix. All processed in Lightroom with Fill Light, Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance and Sharpen.

30
Sep
10

9/30/2010: Fog on the Cliffs of Quoddy Head

Fog is difficult to photograph, since the scattered light within the fog itself makes it photographically bright, though it has the opposite effect to the natural eye. A bank of fog almost always comes out as a white indistinct mass in an image. If you expose for the fog, to keep it natural, then the landscape under it goes dark and muddy. Seems like an ideal situation for HDR…kind of. I tried several shots on the cliffs of Quoddy Head to test the effect. As always with HDR, I’d have done better with a tripod…especially as the base exposures all had show shutter speeds due to the overall low level of the light. I did get a few shots that worked though, like the one above.

A secondary problem, if you go the HDR route, is Photomatix’s inability to blend exposures where fine detail masks an open sky…trees against the sky are particularly difficult for the app…and you almost always get a light halo around limbs and leaves where the lighter exposure shows through. Changing the smoothing setting can help in making this less obvious but in this image it still shows somewhat in the trees in the upper right.

The other way to work the fog is to use Revovery and Fill Light in Lightroom, along with some filter trickery. This shot is not HDR, but I was able to extend the range and keep the fog semi-transparent, by using heavy Recovery, which reduces the highlights in an image without effecting the rest of the tones. Fill Light for the foreground allows me to move the Blackpoint right to increase color depth and contrast. Finally, in this case, the fog in the upper left corner was totally blown out and distractingly white…so I went in with a Local Adjustment Brush, set large with maximum feather, and brushed in an adjustment area in that corner. I used to to reduce exposure and brightness selectively there, producing a more natural grey where it was white. If the area had not been so oddly shaped I would have just used a Graduated Filter Effect pulled down from that corner, but LAB worked better for this image.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent.

From Quoddy Head and Lubec ME.

27
Sep
10

9/27/2010: Quoddy Head Light

Quoddy Head Light, while not, perhaps, one of the more attractive Lighthouse in Maine, has the distinction of being the eastern-most Lighthouse in the United States, standing on the eastern-most point of land in the United States. It is so far east that my cell phone claimed it was in another time zone.

The other thing that distinguishes Quoddy Head is fog. Beside the light is the fog horn, and it goes part or all of most days. Certainly, while I had hopes according the National Weather Service, it never stopped sounding during my visit, and the fog never lifted more than a few feet off the ground. Maybe the NWS is not in charge of the weather in that time zone?

Still, you can’t visit Quoddy Head without photographing the Light, fog or no fog…so…

Though I tried this shot as an HDR, hoping for better light on the Lighthouse, I like this single shot version better, as I was able to maintain, and even emphasize, detail in the foreground grass…maybe I would have done better with the HDR with a tripod.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, f2.8 @ 1/640th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

In Lightroom, recovery for the fog, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset. Then I pulled a Graduated Filter effect up from the bottom to increase brightness, contrast, and clarity on the lawn (to bring up the fine details) and one down from the top to darken just a bit, increase contrast considerably, and add a bit of saturation.  Finally, I used the vertical distortion control to straighten the house and Light.

And here it is from the other side:

26
Sep
10

9/26/2010: Orange River Marsh

Happy Sunday!

I am in Machias Maine this morning, having brought daughter #4 up to visit daughter #3 at college on Home Coming weekend. Yesterday, despite heavy fog over the coast, I drove up to Quoddy Head State Park to explore and to see what I could find to photograph. On the way up, while still on Route 1, I passed an Atlantic Coast Conservancy pull off for Reynolds Marsh, and a few seconds later crossed the marsh (or river…it is the Orange River) itself. It looked so promising that I had to turn around and go back.

It was actually raining lightly when I got out of the car, and I had to work with one hand covering the controls of the camera all the time, and trust to my lens shade to keep water off the lens. There was a short walk down through the woods to the marsh, and I no more than stepped beneath trees than two Ruffed Grouse shot up in front of me and beat away among the spruce. The trail led to a canoe launch on the edge of the marsh.

The challenge with fog is getting enough light on the foreground so it looks natural without turning the fog into a bright white nimbus that blanks out the top 2/3rs of the image. And of course it is the contrast between the saturated wet colors close by, particularly rich in the diffuse light, and the grey encroaching atmosphere, that makes a foggy morning so interesting photographically.

I tried a few three exposure HDRs, and I am pretty happy with the results. I find that, using Photomtix for the HDRs, I still have to envision what I will be able to do with the image in Lightroom, and adjust the tone mapping in Photomatix with that in mind.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. Three exposures separated by 2EV with the center of the range moved down –2/3EV using exposure compensation. ISO 125.

Photomatix tone-mapping, and then a bit more Recovery in Lightroom, some Fill Light, and the Blackpoint moved right…added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And, being Sunday, I think about the parable potential of the image as well…

The fog that obscures the distance (future?), should not lessen your enjoyment of the rich saturated colors of your life close at hand…and, in fact, the contrast is, often, what makes life interesting. Or so say I.

One more from the foggy marsh. This one is not an HDR, but I was able to balance the exposure using Recovery and Fill Light in Lightroom. Taken in wide (16/9) mode.