Archive for the 'weather' Category


9/14/2010: Blue House

Blue house, blue sky, steel blue sea, and the racing clouds behind the hurricane. It is actually the few warm rocks in the sun in the foreground and the massive clouds that make the image….without them the blues would not be nearly so dominant. (And I just noticed, when I uploaded this to Flickr, the sun-drawing-water effects along the horizon!)

This is another Photomatix HDR, based on three wide angle exposures (auto bracketed) in the Canon SX20IS. Besides blending and tone mapping in Photomatix, the final image was tweaked in Lightroom: a bit of Recovery for the sky, added Clarity and Vibrance, Blackpoint slightly right, Sharpen narrow edges preset, and some distortion control for both wide angle lens distortion and vertical perspective distortion to restore the horizon and straighten the flagpole. Since being able to correct it easily in Lightroom, I find I am becoming more intolerant of obvious camera distortions.

The critical step in post-processing, however, was getting the color temperature right…in the original, the rocks were too blue as well, and the image looked a bit filtered. Just the way the sensor saw it I guess. I added some warmth, but if the rocks looked natural, then the blue of the house, in particular, went too light…this is a compromise which preserves the blue house and balances the rocks. The steel blue of the sea, while not as intense as the original image, is more true to life on a day of storm seas. Or that’s the way I see it anyway.




The Dom: Wetzlar, Germany

There is an interesting story, of course, behind the Dom…the not quite cathedral of old Wetzlar. The original church was built in the 1300s, but as the city of Wetzlar grew (salt and iron), the town fathers found the ambition to be a cathedral city, and began to build a new church around the walls of the old. That’s how they did it then…they literally built the new building with the old one inside it. Before it was completed, Wetzlar fell on hard times, and construction was abandoned. It was restarted, as I remember the story, 3 separate times in the next 200 years, as the fortunes and ambitions of the town and the town fathers waxed and waned, each time with a new architect and a new style.  It never was finished. There were supposed to be two towers, and inside the church there are doorways half way up blank walls where new floors had been planned and never installed. And yet, because of that, it is one of the most interesting churches in Germany, containing as it does, written in stone, a record of the changing styles in church architecture over almost 3 centuries.

Sitting high on the hill on which old Wetzlar is built, the Dom dominates the skyline from any direction, but it is actually not easy to find a good spot for photography. This is a classic distant shot, taken from the long park along the River Lahn, beyond the stone bridge, again on my one rainy late evening of photography on this trip to Wetzlar. In this light, and with that sky, it certainly has drama. What you see is a Photomatix HDR rendered from two Canon SX20IS wide angle exposures. (The blue on the tower is not a lens or sensor flaw. There is scaffolding the full height of the tower where they are repairing and reinforcing the walls, and it is, characteristically, covered in bright blue polyester tarps.)

After blending and tone-mapping in Photomatix Lite, I did my usual Blackpoint adjustment, added Clarity and Vibrance, and sharpen in Lighroom. Some perspective adjustment was also applied.

From Germany and England 2010.




This is one of my favorite views of Wetzlar. I love the jumble of gables and the scatter of skylights. I have taken this shot many times…but never on a late rainy evening, and never with HDR in mind. This is again, two exposures separated by 3EV combined in Photomatix. I had to turn the strength of the blend way down, or the sky went way dramatic.

To my eye that is a bit over the top, though it does make a statement.

After processing in Photomatix, both shots were taken into Lightroom, where the first challenge was correcting the vertical perspective distortion and some lens distortion for a more natural look. Then I adjusted Blackpoint, added Clarity and Vibrance and used the Sharpen narrow edges preset.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. ISO 200.

From Germany and England 2010.



Marsh by the Mousam

This is another iPhone HDR using the Pro HDR app. Two exposures, tap, tap, one for the sky and one for the foreground, auto processed in the app. Slight adjustment: horizon straightening, levels, and contrast…red channel pulled back a bit…in PhotoGene on the iPhone, then uploaded to Wide Eyed In Wonder (SmugMug) using SmugShot. Could not be easier. Everything was done right there in the field at the time, with the scene before me. Though it is not an intentional  feature of the Pro HDR app, selecting exposure areas in the sky and background also alters the iPhone camera’s focus point, which makes for a processed image that is sharp, as here, from immediate foreground to to the distant clouds. Like I have said before…I really wish my Canon SX20IS could do this!! (And there is absolutely NO reason it could not…it is just software.)

As far as the shot itself goes…well it has just about everything going for it. Glorious sky, reflections in still water, strong horizon with the mass of houses leading in on the left, wonderful detail and interesting texture in the swirling marsh grasses, subtle effective color tones throughout…even that bit of stump sticking up to anchor the eye in the foreground. Add the HDR effect and you get a photograph that strikes the eye like the best landscape painting…in the sense that we are not used to seeing this kind of range in a photograph.

It almost makes me laugh out loud when I remember that it was produced completely on the iPhone 4! Who could have imagined it?

From iPhone 4 HDR and Panos.



iPhone HDR: Mousam under Cloud

The camera on the new iPhone 4 is the first decent camera on a cell phone I have used…and it is pretty good. Auto Focus, Selective focus (tap to select focus point), Selective metering (tap), 5mp back-illuminated sensor for fairly high sensitivity and low noise. All and all, by the specs, pretty good.

However, it is the apps that really make the camera sing, and that actually tempt me to use it even when I am carrying my real camera! Take Pro HDR for instance. Open the app. Tap once on a light portion of the scene. Take a shot. Tap again on a dark portion of the scene. Take a shot. The app then combines the two shots into a true HDR rendering of the view. It even provides sliders to fine-tune Contrast, Saturation, and Color Temperature.

The results, right out of the app, can be impressive. Both of the shots here were then opened in PhotoGene on the iPhone for straightening, sharpening, and some levels and color adjustment before being directly uploaded to my Wide Eyed In Wonder SmugMug site from the phone (using SmugShot, a free app from SmugMug).

I certainly wish my real camera could do all of those things!

The iPhone does not record much in the way of EXIF data so all I can say is taken with the iPhone 4.

Processed as above.

From iPhone 4 HDR and Pano.



Storm Over Parson’s

Parson’s Beach, that is. This is actually the mouth of Back Creek where it flows into the Mousam. The storm passed just south of us, scattering a few drops on the far end of the beach, but soaking Wells. A shot like this is, of course, all about the drama in the clouds. Here the curve of the creek adds to the composition.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4.0 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

I tipped the camera up to meter off the clouds, then tipped it back down for composition. I tried Recovery for the clouds in Lightroom, but ended up using a Graduated Filter effect pulled down from the top to the horizon to reduce exposure and add a bit of brightness and contrast. Fill Light for the foreground. Blackpoint just a little right. Added Clarity and a touch of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset.

From Around Home 2010.



Evening Light/Tidal Pool

Summer’s late light, going on 8PM with the sun still well above the horizon and seemingly hanging there forever. The slant picks out abundant detail in the sea grass surrounding this tidal pool, here full and reflective with the tide. A bit of mist left from a hot muggy day still floats up-river, thinning toward the coast. Peace. It will repay a larger look on Wide Eyed In Wonder (click the image).

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4.0 @ 1/320th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

In Lightroom, Recovery for the sky, Blackpoint just right, added Clarity and just a tiny amount of Vibrance. Sharpen narrow edges preset. Finally I pulled a Graduated Filter effect down diagonally from the upper left corner to bring up some blue where the mist catching the light had overexposed the area.

From Around Home 2010.