So back in 2006, I’m in one of those once-in-a-lifetime locations, in interesting morning light. I’m standing outside the park bus in the Polychrome area of Denali National Park, Alaska. So what do I do? I decide to shoot jpeg only because I’m worried about running out of memory cards/storage later in the trip. Bad move! The plan was to stop at this area on the way back, get off the bus and roam. Great idea except the bus driver did not stop here on the way back. By the time I got off the bus he was already down the mountain. Anyhow, so that leaves me with only jpegs of this scene. The cloud tops were really blown out here and there, I expect I would have had better luck recovering some detail there if I had been shooting RAW, as I do 99.9 percent of the time. So I have added this to my list of “what I would tell myself if I slip through a hole in space-time and find myself having a conversation with my past self”. ” Tell dad to buy Pizza Hut stock (1960’s)! Buy Microsoft stock! Shoot RAW everywhere in Denali!”
I revisited this image, and did a single exposure HDR version…meaning I used the original jpeg, made -2 and +2 versions of it, then ran it through Photomatix. The result is what you see here. If only I had been shooting RAW, I think I would have had better luck with the sky/clouds. Anyhow, it is still pretty and I will always think of this scene the next time I am tempted to shoot jpeg only. I may have even posted this image in the early days of my blog, but I am a little better at the HDR nowadays so no harm done. I hope.
I was fortunate to spend an unhurried afternoon at Eagle Lake, Acadia National Park, Maine back in October 2008. This is another HDR image that has been processed to (hopefully) appear more on the normal side, rather than surreal. There was a bird (not an Eagle) patiently sitting on that rock in the foreground, which was a nice added touch.
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.
This was the same morning I was able to get my favorite image of Mt. McKinley (Denali). This is looking down into the trees in the river valley below the Princess McKinley Wilderness Lodge. There was a fog in the valley that was beginning to burn off. I doubt I did it justice, being obsessed with the mountain left little time for what would otherwise have been my primary focus. One of those ‘just too much to process’ situations. Princess was in the process of building a wooden fence which would block this view, a few more steps forward and there would have been no more photographer-a pretty dangerous spot with an unprotected shear drop off. This was on the grounds of the lodge so I can see their point.
This is from my film days, taken in the late 1990’s during my one and only real storm chase. The person I was with had a meteorology degree and had done this before, so I felt like I was being semi-responsible about it. (That is, until I found myself frantically jockeying a metal tripod around in the middle of multiple lightning flashes.) I fired off a few exposures of several seconds each, then got back in the car, relieved the lightning had behaved. In this particular spot everything came together visually when looking west towards the setting sun (behind the clouds.) The clouds were interesting, the foreground of fence and windmill in silhouette, lightning, and the absence of overhead powerlines. (I hate overhead power lines from a photographic perspective, although I confess to enjoying the electricity they provide.) This particualr storm cell dropped a tornado a few minutes later to the north, but we were out of the immediate area by then.
During most of my film era I shot transparencies (“slides”). For some reason now forgotten I started shooting print film for awhile, this storm was on print film. I am embarrassed to report that the original negative is lost, or at least misplaced on a long term basis. OK, it must be lost. I have every slide I ever took, but those darn negatives must have been tricky to keep organized.
Here’s a landscape without the land…I suppose that would make it a seascape. In any case, this was a sunset in open ocean somewhere in the vicinity of the Bahamas. I would have preferred a rocky seacoast, interesting island, tall sailing ship, or something similar for the foreground or mid-ground, but alas – none were available. This one had very little post processing, just level tweaks and a small saturation boost to the flat RAW file.
I was fortunate enough to spend Saturday in my wife’s hometown of Belleville, Ks. photographing my lovely nieces and assorted family members. At one location, off in a field in the distance, I spotted an interesting abandoned stone house that was falling apart. (I think this was probably a circa early 1900’s farmhouse at one time anyway.) I’m always a sucker for abandoned buildings and architectural details, so this was a moth-to-the-flame type situation. My primary mission in Belleville was portrait photography, but my brother-in-law was kind enough to drive me over to the stone house for a quick (under ten minutes) photo session. So what do you do when confronted with an interesting subject, but under mid-day harsh sunlight and an uninteresting sky, and a time limit? Why you just wing it of course. (Then do some monochrome conversions when you get back home and hope you got something worth keeping-that’s what I did anyway.) I’m not sure how successful I was, but thought it might make for a mildly interesting post. I’ve filed this location away as somewhere that would be worthwhile re-visiting in more dramatic lighting conditions-or even at night. I can’t believe my wife never told me about this house.
~Just a final quick note, it looks to me like these particular photos benefit quite a bit when viewed at the larger size you should get when clicking on the photo. ~
I was kicking myself later on the image above. If I had been thinking clearly I would have centered a single distant tree in the window opening. Dang it.
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.
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.
We were extremely fortunate on our Alaska trip to find clear skies over Mt. McKinley (a.k.a. Denali). This is unusual enough that even the employees at the Princess Wilderness Lodge where this image was taken were outside taking photos of each other with the mountain in the background. Princess would like you to believe that Denali is looming over the main lodge deck, but it is more like 40 miles away, about the size of your fist at arms length. Having said that, it was still a beautiful view.
The view from the Princess lodge is looking generally north, many photos you see of the mountain are taken from inside the national park looking west or southwest. On this particular morning my tripod was already on it’s way to our next destination in our big checked bags, so I braced my 70-200mm Sigma telephoto lens on a wooden guardrail and fired away. This particular image has had some photoshop actions applied, others in the linked gallery have only had level tweaks and such applied. I feel fortunate that we were able to see this great mountain so clearly, it was quite memorable.
I posted an unremarkable photo yesterday to illustrate a point, I thought I’d use one today of the same general subject which I thought turned out more pleasing. This was just a quick shot from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine. At the time I had been more interested in shooting the sunset, and the brightly lit cruise ship in the harbor below, so this was image was something of an afterthought. I think I find it works better as a vertical crop, the original was horizontal.