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PIXelations 9

the last splash of summer

by fotofinish , 10-25-2005 at 08:18 PM (467 Views)

Jayne and I were casually walking the streets of Charleston on Thursday afternoon last week when we stumbled upon the scene below of some kids enjoying perhaps their last fountain swim in the late afternoon heat. I knew I had to work fast to capture the moment, and I knew I wanted to slow down the shutter speed to produce a stream effect. So I manually bracketed the shutter and took several pictures from different angles. But I think I like this one best since the water seems to be glowing with the sun.

the garden of the gods

by fotofinish , 10-29-2005 at 07:15 AM (342 Views)

The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is truly an awe-inspiring location! When you first approach this free park, it is a bit deceiving to see the stones. It isn’t until you walk among some of the 300-foot-plus stones that you appreciate its beauty. The red rock color with ocassional white makes the color contrast more apparent. The unusual shapes and formations often border on the bizare. And then you look up to see that you are being observed by Pikes Peak and the rest of its range.

The Shoot
Jayne and I were there at three seperate shoots: late afternoon, sunrise, and mid morning. Sunrise was a phenominal time to experience the colors and grandeur of the park. I set up my tripod, 20D with 18-55mm, attached my cable release and engaged miror lockup. We then waited for the first rays to melt down from Pikes Peak and paint the stones. When the rays finally hit the stones, their red color exploded with radience.

Also of interest was a number of rock climbers in the park, This added some drama to my shots and I was delighted to capture some of these brave folks. There were many birds and rabbits as well.

I will begin working on the second set of photos from the Salida area and the Continental Divide.

Here are some of my best:

More pictures from my new gallery, the garden of the gods, are

divide and conquer

by fotofinish , 11-03-2005 at 08:52 PM (322 Views)

I finally finished processing my Salida pictures. I had forgotten about the Shadow/Highlight image adjustment in CS2. If you haven’t tried this wonderful adjustment yet, you ought to see what it can do in tough lighting or haze. It will amaze you! The pictures in my new gallery were taken in the Salida, Colorado area, especially the Continental Divide and Cottonwood Pass. My sister-in-law, Judy, lives in this beautiful area. This is the first time we visited her there in the fives years since she moved. Needless to say, I hope to make it an annual!

The Shoot
I used F16 for most of my landscapes. While at Cottonwood pass, 12,100 feet, I had my tripod, cable release, and mirror lockup going. I took a five-picture panorama but I have to wait till I receive my 1 gig memory chip to assemble the panorama. I only have 256mb now and processing from raw takes roughly 10 minutes, start to finish. I’m hoping to have that down to 6 minutes with the new memory. I probably won’t post the panoramas of the Rockies and Garden of the Gods for another month.

Here are two of my best:

More pictures from my new gallery, Rocky Mountain High, are

Now that I have completed this gallery, it’s on to processing my Charleston-area pictures, especially the Audubon Swamp hike. Some of these came out pretty nice!

swamp things

by fotofinish , 11-07-2005 at 06:05 PM (272 Views)

This is the last of my recent trip photos with this one highlighting the Charleston, SC area, especially the The Audubon Swamp Garden at Magnolia Plantation . Depending on the time of day and time of year, it could be a very exciting place to visit. Of course, however, when Jayne and I visited, it was quiet. But I came armed with my 100-400mm L and monopod. I did manage to get a few pictures in between swatting at mosquitoes the size of bats! There was 100% humidity and 88 degree heat in the middle of October!
The Plantation was also a treasure worth visiting, dating back to the late 1600’s. If you ever visit Charleston, make time to visit this wonderful place. You won’t regret it!

Here are some of my best:

More pictures from my new gallery, Swamp Things, are

…and Carolina On My Mind…

I have two panoramas I will post here next. See you soon.


by fotofinish , 11-10-2005 at 07:19 PM (243 Views)

This is the last of my processing from my recent trips. At both the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, as well as at Cottonwood Pass near Salida, CO, I shot my first serious panoramas.

The Shoot
I set up my tripod with my Canon 20D in mirror lockup, 50mm f1.8, and cable release. I leveled the setup with a small bubble level, and panned from left to right with a 33% overlap. I set the camera in manual mode, metered the scene then set my exposure to f16 and shutter. I left my focus in auto since I was shooting infinity. My ISO was 100 to minimize noise.

Cottonwood Pass was shot at 11am. The Garden of the Gods was shot at sunrise, just as the sunlight melted down Pikes Peak, just hitting the Garden monuments, setting them on fire…

The Processing
First, I processed each of the GOTG shots from raw. I converted the first one and copied the setting to the four other raw files for this first 5-photo pano. I opened each in CS2, and ran the Capture sharpener plugin from PhotoKit Sharpener. Then I created a Shadow/Highlights layer and adjusted especially for midtone contrast. I used the Channel Mixer layer to tweak the color, then saved the interim psd file. Finally, I converted to 8-bit and saved the image to jpg with the least setting of compression. I left the sizing and resolution alone. The reason I saved as a jpg was because the stiching software, Autostitch, requires these settings. This free program does an amazing job of not only stiching but also tonal blending. After the stiching, I reopened the new pano.jpg in CS2, cropped the overhangs, and did some selective burning to lighten some of the darker areas, as well as darken some of the peaks. Next I burned my edges based on this article. Finally, I resized for the web and ran the final sharpening for the web, using my plugin. What I did not do correctly, however, was a better job at improving the whitish sky.

I did Cottonwood Pass as an 8-photo pano much the same way as discussed above.

Here are the two outcomes:

I will send the GOTG pano to a lab for printing. I’ll tell you how it turns out.

the man, the master, the legend…

by fotofinish , 11-14-2005 at 05:59 PM (274 Views)

This past Saturday, my wife and I went with friends to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the Ansel Adams Exhibition, the Lane Collection. This wonderful showing represents many of his most famous original photos, as well as some of his early and later works.

This was my first time seeing Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, and I was very moved by this experience. The last fleeting rays of the setting sun illuminated the peaks of the distant mountain range, but it was the illumination of the crosses which really left me with awe. The detail and the conflict between the last fleeting rays of sunlight with the impending shadows created the drama.

But my favorite was Canyon De Chelly National Monument. I enjoyed the conflict of light beams highlighting some of the monuments and the shadows of the others. The contrast this created for me was stunning. And the angry sky completed the scene. The amazing clarity and depth of detail makes you feel as if you are really there.

Other favorites were The Maroon Bells and Winter Sunrise for similar reasons.

I urge anyone in the Northeast to visit this amazing exhibition which runs until the end of the year…

One statistic in his timeline as presented at the museum was staggering. Unfortunately, I don’t remember it exactly, but I believe it was by the mid 1970’s that half of all photo sales in the US were Ansel Adams photos! What a tribute to the man, the master, and the legend…

Having seen the best of the Master, I have drawn several conclusions. However, the disclaimer is that these conclusions only apply where appropriate. I was surprised at how dark his famous photos were in comparison to the photos that we shoot today. Present day photos seem to have that “in your face” quality of brightness, the kind that wants to be seen and heard. Very few seem to allow the mystery of the scene to unveil itself subtley to the viewer. He started his career using a yellow filter but changed to a red filter, opting to allow the darker image bring out more of the edges and hence the clarity in his photos.

Conclusion: It’s OK if the image is darker.

Not all of his photos showed detail in every shadow. Some were pure black. But these showed the drama between the seen and the unseen; the light and the dark. Example: “Winter Sunrise, The Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, Ca”. The mood of these photos clearly were enhanced by this stark contrast.

Conclusion: It’s OK if parts of the photo do not show detail in the shadows.

Drama and conflict clearly was what set Ansel’s photos apart from the other photos of his time, and even today. The catalyst in his landscapes was the weather systems: the approaching storms; in between storms. The drama of the clouds competing for attention from the last rays of the sun or the first rays of the sun set his photos apart from the mere calendar shots.

Conclusion: If you want an image to make it to the final level, there must be a sense of drama and competition, a greed for the light. Watch for scenes that involve an approaching storm, or a storm’s aftermath.

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