Well, here’s the 12th in the series of abstract wallpaper, and the last for 2014. I hope everyone has enjoyed these as much as I have enjoyed sharing them. I don’t have any way to tell how many people actually take the time to download these, but I sure would appreciate your letting me know via comment or e-mail. I’m thinking about trying something different for 2015, but if I get a lot (any?) requests to keep them just the way they are I’m open.
I hope everyone has a joyful and happy holiday of your choice, and we’ll welcome in the new year very soon!
I was looking through my photos from the last month or so and came across of a few stragglers from our snow storm in February. Here are a few I hadn’t posted yet, just in case anyone was missing the snow.
Forecast is sunny and 70 today…almost time to get out the short-sleeve shirts. 🙂
Well, just like that the sun is out and the snow is melting. I saw a forecast high of 76 for next week. I’ll believe that when I see it, but for now things are looking up.
They are going to expect me to make an appearance in the office today, so I’m going to post a few more photos just to keep the momentum going. I shot a lot more yesterday but since I’m juggling priorities I may have to work on them over the weekend.
We had a little snow today here in the sunny south. I spent some time walking around in it this afternoon, and here are a few quick picks that I promised Paul. 😉 Looks like we may have another snow day tomorrow, so I may be able to get out and shoot some more. The NWS is forecasting “Freezing Fog” tonight – that could make for an interesting morning!
I love mornings, I just wish they didn’t come so darned early! Especially on weekends, the last thing I want to do is set an alarm. But I’ve been preaching for years that the landscape photographer’s most important tool is the alarm clock. Lately, I haven’t been so good about practicing what I preach. This time of year though, sunrise is late – about 7:30 – so I can actually sleep later than I do during the week and still get up and photograph. It’s possible, I said!
We got a little bit of ice yesterday. Hardly anything to get excited about, but with the forecast of clearing skies overnight, I went to bed with visions of sunbeams and dramatic clouds and frozen grass lighting up like diamonds in the morning light. The possibility of dramatic conditions gave me enough reason to plan to get up. I should have set my alarm, though, but I didn’t. So when I woke up at 5:00 I couldn’t go back to sleep because I had sorta committed to getting up. But I stayed awake, and I got up.
I get a lot of inspiration from a small circle of friends who have photo blogs. Monte Stevens is The Man when it comes to getting up and out for sunrise. I should do so well. Usually I don’t, but today I did. Monte posted the other day about getting up for sunrise, and he, Paul & I had a friendly little exchange about getting up for sunrise, and I kinda sorta committed to getting up this morning. So I had to, right?
The transition that occurs when I go out with a camera always amazes me. It really doesn’t matter what the conditions are, there is always something to shoot. The results aren’t always something I would hang on the wall, and I doubt any of this morning’s photos will be. But you never know. And the main thing is, I need to get my sorry self out the door in order to take any pictures. And if all I accomplish is getting my ass out the door, using the camera and getting a little practice once I do, that is nothing to complain about. And if I come back with some decent photographs, that’s a bonus!
The amazing conditions that I had pictured in my mind’s eye didn’t materialize. But we did have a little fog, the air was still and it was very quiet – some of my favorite conditions for making photographs. So I made my way across the icy street and down the frozen steps to the Greenway, taking care to not fall on my butt – or worse, on top of the camera slung over my shoulder. It was slick, but I had good boots and was careful.
I got out about 7:00, 30 minutes or so before sunrise, and figured on staying out for an hour or so, and that’s about what I did. I went to a section of the Greenway that would have a good view of the sun if I actually saw it, but it didn’t make an appearance. And as of 10:00 this morning I’m still waiting. But I’m back in the house now with my coffee and warm slippers sitting at the computer, so life is good!
But Monte and Paul, I did get out! And here are the photos to prove it! Enjoy!
As I sit here on a beautiful North Carolina day, middle of December, trying to decide whether I need a coat to take a walk this afternoon, I thought I’d post a few more photos from our Thanksgiving weekend adventure to eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. These were all taken in the vicinity of the Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge near Reynolds, PA.
On my previous post, Monte asked about how the HDR version of that image came out, and as it turned out I didn’t do an HDR series on that particular photo so I didn’t have anything to compare. Just for kicks though, I went back and found an image where I did do a bracketed series including an in-camera HDR file.
Most of my readers know that I really dislike futzing around in Photoshop, so I probably didn’t do the HDR version justice. But while there are things I like about it, I’m really a fan of the contrast you get from a single file. While the HDR version perhaps shows more “detail” I’d rather see the contrast. Of course I’m a fan of rich, dark tones in my photos and HDR kind of defeats the purpose for me.
I’ve made these files a little larger for those who want to pixel peep. But please don’t criticize my Photoshop skills. Because, especially for things like HDR, I’m really out of practice.
Kathy & I spent a quiet and relaxing (except for the drive home) extended Thanksgiving weekend in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania visiting family and friends. As is my usual habit, I spent minimal time perusing the interwebs or watching television, so I enjoyed a blissful 5 days away from all of the messages telling me what I was supposed to be doing, buying or worrying about. Fortunately I returned to work today, so I was able to get my 5-minute daily dose (aggregated from all my visits to the break room during the day) of television “news,” so I am now up to speed again. Fiscal Cliff, blah-blah, Black Friday, blah-blah, Cyber Monday, blah-blah, Petraeus (or not Petraeus), blah-blah, Egypt, blah-blah, football, blah-blah, William and Kate, etc.
Somehow all of that stuff pales in comparison to cherished and overdue time with loved ones. I hope you all had time to spend with yours.
A number of my non-photographer friends have asked me on numerous occasions why their photographs don’t look like my photographs. And of course the sentiment I hear most often is that “I must have a really great camera.” And I tell them, “of course I do, but I could make the photographs I make with just about any camera. It all has to do with how I take the photograph, and knowing what to do with it after I take it.”
Many people incorrectly attribute this answer to mean that I am “Photoshopping” my photos, but when they do, their impression is that that means something sinister or unethical. I try to explain that a lot of what I do is no different than what might have been done with film in a darkroom. I just don’t have to do it with chemicals, I do it with a computer.
This article is written primarily for me to be able to point my friends to something that explains, better than I could possibly do in the lunchroom at work or at dinner in a nice restaurant, what I mean when I say that I “develop” or “process” my photos in Lightroom. And hopefully some of my photographer friends will find this interesting and perhaps even informative.
This photograph was taken in October 2011 on one of those rare times when the fall color was just about at peak, and an early morning snowstorm came through with just about perfect timing. An hour before this photo was taken I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at Clingman’s Dome, being buffeted by gale force winds when a snow plow driver stopped to tell me that I had better get started down because he was planning to lock the gate. I wisely retreated to a lower elevation and found this scene.
The scene in front of me was overall pretty dark and lacking in contrast, because even though the sun was lighting up the clouds the light was pretty diffused and the sun was not shining through all that brightly. I knew from experience that my camera would try to overexpose to bring the values closer to an average exposure. But I also knew that the snow and clouds were on the brighter end of the scale and would cause my camera to want to under underexpose the snow and clouds. I figured (correctly) that the two would just about balance each other out and made no adjustments to what the meter was reading. I confirmed the exposure with the histogram after the shot.
At the time I was pretty certain that I had captured some good photographs of a pretty amazing scene, but I also knew that a great deal of post-processing would be required to obtain a final image that looked like what I “saw” while I was standing at that overlook. When I got home and imported the files into the computer, the first thing I saw was this flat looking gray mess that some people might be tempted to toss. But I had a plan and went to work.
The first thing I did was to adjust the white balance to warm the scene up a little. My camera does a very good job with finding the “right” white balance, but I knew I was going to need to add some warmth to get the look I was after. About 500 points was plenty to get what I wanted. Next, I knew I needed to add a lot of contrast, since the snow and clouds made for a very low-contrast scene. I ended up adding a lot of black – about 70 points (this is Process Version 2010 in Lightroom – the new adjustment tools had not been invented yet!). Some adjustments to the mid-tones and highlights and I was starting to get somewhere!
My next step was to add some additional color contrast by using Split-toning to cool the shadows while keeping warmth in the highlights. This is pretty subtle but gives the scene a bit more vibrance.
After a bunch of time spent cloning dust spots – the photo was shot at f22 – I was ready to move on to some fine tuning. I made extensive use of the Adjustment Brush to selectively darken and lighten specific areas of the photo, added some contrast and saturation to areas that needed it, and generally “shaped” the image to direct the viewer’s eye through the scene. A little vignetting to keep the viewer inside the frame, some tweaks to the capture sharpening and noise reduction and it’s done. Or done for now, as I haven’t yet tried to make a print of this photo. Doing that will undoubtedly require another round or two of adjustments once I see what it looks like on paper. I’d also like to experiment with this image using Process Version 2012 in Lightroom 4, but when I click the button to convert it the photo turns to crap again. So we’ll have to save that and printing for a future episode!
Last fall we were treated to a relatively rare (for me, at least!) mix of fall color and snow. We had driven up to Clingman’s Dome in the Smokies for sunrise, only to be chased back down by gale-force winds and blowing snow. The morning light a few hundred feet below proved to be a good consolation.
October is definitely my favorite time of the year here in North Carolina. We have a number of interesting adventures planned, including a long-overdue visit to Florida (not for fall color) so stay tuned for updates on our travels. Whether you manage to see snow or not, I sincerely hope that your October is a wonderful one!