A little strip of fall color and sky at Sedgwick County Park, Wichita, Ks.
I went to Sedgwick County Park here in Wichita, Kansas Sunday to look for fall color. The first scene that I stopped for was this crazy multi-colored tree. I leave it to any botanists/arborists/tree experts for the scientific explanation. It looks as if the leaves are changing at wildly differing rates on various parts of the tree.
Another 2008 image from Acadia National Park. This was among the very first images I took in the park. We had arrived at Bar Harbor in the evening, and I took a little recon drive into the park. I recall driving around a curve and two things hit me….first I recognized this was beaver pond which I recognized from my trip research, second…wow! I HAD picked the right week to visit, fall color looked to be peaking inside the park. I wasn’t alone either, there were at least five cars parked along the road , and five to ten photographer with tripods shooting the trees and glassy water in the fading light. I pulled over, found a spot, and took a few photos myself of course, the best of which yous see here.
I’ve been revisiting some old images, and found this one from a 2008 visit to Acadia National Park in Maine. This one was overexposed but I was able to extract some lost detail and color in the sky, much to my surprise. Shooting RAW is the only way to fly! I believe that’s Otter Cliffs in the distance. I love Acadia – it’s a do-not-miss destination especially if you time it right, and visit in the correct one to two week period for fall colors. (Which varies year to year of course-usually sometime in October.)
Vermont, in the fall, seems to hold a photo opportunity around every bend in the road. My wife and I were exploring one of the secondary roads in central Vermont, and it seemed like we could do no wrong. I must have stopped our rental car every five minutes or so, jumped out, grabbed a few quick frames, and moved on. We came around a curve, and I saw this beautiful white horse standing there…I mean come on…this is like shooting fish in a barrel! As most of you know who labor at photography know, it’s not usually quite so easy. Sometimes you get lucky though.
What I find interesting about this image is the location. Sure, it’s a nice fall scene on the Little Arkansas (Ar-Kan-Sas not Ar-Kan-Saw – it’s a local thing ). What I find interesting is that it is in the middle of the largest city in Kansas, a metropolitan area of roughly 500,000 people last I heard. If you look closely you can see a few small hints at civilization in the image – what you can’t see are the house lined streets that parallel the river, or the busy four lane bridge/street behind the photographer. This is one of those scenes you would have about a two second glimpse of while crossing the bridge in traffic. I got that two second glimpse the other day, so later found a place to park and dashed out onto the bridge (not in the traffic lanes hehe) for a few quick frames. Too bad the sky was so bland, but you can’t have everything. I can always try again. It IS possible to find scenes like this in a heavily urban area, just a little tricky.
Radio controlled sailboats ply the lake at a local park.
Fall color is finally showing up in south central Kansas. I visited a favorite local park over the weekend to see what I could see.
If you click on the image, the larger version shows the incredible structure of this leaf quite remarkably. I don’t own an actual macro lens, however I do have a Canon 500D close up lens, which is basically a high quality magnifier that screws onto the end of your regular lens. I was outdoors fooling around with it a couple of weeks ago. I picked up this leaf and held it up so the low sun was shining directly through the back of it. Aside from adjusting levels and desaturating the background, this is otherwise as-is. Fall color has been slow coming to Kansas, there is still a lot of green around, however in the last week or so I’m seeing more color.
A couple of weeks ago I posted an HDR image of Lower Baker Pond, New Hampshire that got a good response. I went back into my original files and found another bracketed set of exposures I took during that brief stop, looking in another direction. This time I attempted to process the HDR with less of a surreal look, aiming for something resembling what might be the result of using a neutral density graduated filter during the actual shot. I find it pleasing. The composition may lack that extra 5% to make it great, but the sky, mirror smooth water, and eye popping foliage was an irresistible combination.
It’s sort of like trophy hunting I suppose. I sought out this specific farm in Vermont. Even if you don’t specifically recall, you’ve likely seen it on calendars or in books. It’s one of those iconic scenes I felt compelled to photograph. I must not be the only one, these folks have had to install a big electronically controlled gate to block their driveway. That’s not a country road in the photo, it’s their private drive. The timing seemed fortunate, as a carpet of red/orange leaves made for a nice foreground. This is a photograph that’s been done to death, but not by me, so I enjoyed shooting it anyway. After the trophy shot was in the bag, I tried to find another way to shoot the farm (from the public road) that would be more original. That was only partially successful I guess, there’s a reason everybody shoots it from the driveway…it looks darn good lol.
That barn is really super attractive, and as usual if I had more time, or was able to actually get closer there might have been more success. Below is my favorite alternate view. Seeing these again really makes me want to go back to New England in the fall.
The response to yesterday’s miracle post, which got me “Freshly Pressed” (thanks WordPress!) was a bit overwhelming. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time out of their day to take a look, and especially those who left comments. Sprinkled throughout the commentary were a few opinions that the HDR on yesterday’s image was overdone, or too saturated etc. I understand. While the general public seemed to like what they saw, HDR can make the more serious photographer’s noses turn up, especially when it is perceived to be overdone. I get it, and that is an entirely valid point of view. For those purists who wanted to see a more normal looking view of yesterdays scene, today I offer a .jpg practically right out of the camera. This is the same hillside and lake from yesterday’s post.
The dynamic range of the whole scene from yesterday’s image was way beyond anything the camera could handle in one exposure, the correct exposure on the trees resulted in a totally blown out sky (and the sky’s reflection in the foreground). The only way to have created yesterday’s image was either with HDR, or some major filter work with a neutral density grad. That would have been especially problematic due to the fact that it was not just the sky needing tamed, but the sky’s reflection in the foreground. If there are any skilled landscape photographers out there reading this, maybe you have an alternative, I’d be interested in learning. In a future post I may illustrate what I’m trying to convey here by posting the 3 original exposures I used to create the HDR I will probably do that if I sense anyone is interested in ‘how the sausage is made’ so to speak. Thanks again to wordpress for finding yesterday’s post as worthy, and to all of you for visiting.
Sometimes you get lucky. My wife and I were driving from Acadia National Park on the Maine coast to Woodstock, Vermont. I had researched the heck out of both those locations, but didn’t know much about what lay between. We were very tired, on a seemingly endless secondary highway winding it’s way generally westward. This was a remote area, towns and businesses were few and far between. Eventually it became clear that a….ummm…..’rest stop’ was needed. I parked on the highway shoulder as safely as possible, walked about 20 feet from the car, and there it was….a mirror smooth lake reflecting a hillside of spectacular fall foliage. I set up the tripod and shot a few bracketed sets of exposures, one set of which was combined using Photomatix software into the HDR image above. Google Earth provided me with the name of the lake – Lower Baker Pond. Sometimes you get lucky, just make sure you have your camera ready.
I know there is debate on the artistic merits of the HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique and how it is applied. I’m not one of the minimalists, but I do agree it can certainly be overdone. To tell you the truth my only barometer is whether or not I think it looks cool on whatever image I’m working on. I thought the more extreme HDR look worked for this one, but of course not everyone will agree. Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, Maine is a photogenic location, but I was never able to catch it with a calm surface on my short time there. It is certainly a location I would like to revisit someday. This image was created from a bracketed set of three exposures, combined using Photomatix software with a final tweak in Photoshop Elements.
Cloudland Road in Vermont is one of those scenic stretches of classic New England scenery that really get the old photographic enthusiasm flowing. This was taken on the same morning as the image in yesterday’s post, Cloudland Road and Galaxy Hill Road are in the same area and actually intersect. The diffuse fog/mist/drizzle lent an interesting atmosphere to the images and make the fall colors stand out.
While it might seem counterintuitive, a rainy overcast day can really make colors pop. This was a favorite spot we found in Vermont, I visited it twice. The first day was rainy and I jumped out of the car for a few quick hand held frames. The second day was dry, and I came back with a tripod and took some time…but as it turns out I prefer the rainy day images. The light is what really matters.