Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mount Evans/Summit Lake

In recent weeks, I went out twice in the evening up to Mount Evans to do a sunset at Summit Lake. The geography of this place is not right for good Alpenglow, but under the right conditions (as you'll see below) you can get glowing clouds that bathe the entire place in crazy light. I've never seen pictures like this from this place before so this mostly was a gamble on my part. This condition only happened the second time I went there and lasted only a few minutes. It was spectacular nevertheless. I got good shots both times that I really like and I'll share them with you below. Click on them to see them in the gallery. You can also visit a set on flickr.

Blue and yellow

ISO 200, 11mm, f/16, 3.0 secs

Yellow blankets

ISO 200, 16mm, f/16, 4.0 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND.

King's crown

ISO 200, 11mm, f/16, 25.0 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND.

This was one of my two favorites from the first evening I went there. The King's crown flowers are deeply red colored (not visible in this scaled down copy, but will be if you order a print as the full resolution of the image will be used. My second favorite was this rock shaped like a bird:

ISO 200, 11mm, f/16, 30.0 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND.
The shutter is much longer here because it was getting dark very rapidly.

Rolling clouds

ISO 800, 11mm, f/16, 30.0 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND.
Far after sunset.

The second time I went there as I said, the conditions were right for a glowing sunset. Here is my favorite.

Assembled from 9 images at ISO 200, 35mm, f/16, 0.8 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND in the top row of shots.
This will print well even wall sized. There is also a panoramic version of this here that I use as a backdrop on my monitor.

This is a detail from the above panorama that I liked.
Rabble of Rocks
ISO 200, 35mm, f/16, 0.8 secs

A few minutes later it looked like this:

Assembled from 12 images at ISO 200, 30mm, f/16, 5 secs, 3 stops hard graduated ND in the top row of shots.

This is an image focusing on the reflection you can also see in the above image:

Assembled from 8 images at ISO 200, 30mm, f/16, 5 secs.

All in all this was a very productive two evenings. I have far more interesting shots from this place than I put in the gallery but I did not want to overwhelm you.

£9,500 toilet?

Is it some sort of commentary on modern society that a toilet (interesting Delft blue motif BTW) that John Lennon used for a few years and got rid off by giving it to his builder to use as a plant pot sold for more than a rare and famous Lennon/Ono album from his collection. Are celebrities venerated for the right reasons?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Layout

As you might have noticed, I did some major updates to the page layout on this site. The main change is that I flipped around the color scheme from what it was and changed the banner graphic to an image from sunrise on the Cathedral Spires in Rocky Mountain National Park. I started from a blogger supplied template that I did some major hacking on to make it work for a photography website. I don't want tiny columns, and the sans serif should be Helvetica, not the ugly arial clone that is generally used for this purpose. I also added some drop shadows here and there.

Jpeg quality comparison

To my shame I notice that I neglected to link earlier to this excellent analysis by Jeffrey Friedl on the effect of the jpeg quality setting in the Lightroom export module. If you use Lightroom and export images to the web, it would be well worth your time to read this article and check out the comparisons.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Technology leads to people doing stupid things?

I came across an interesting article in the NYT. Apparently more and more people are purely relying on technology when they go into the wilderness. Not even taking essentials such as water, but taking their cellphones, GPSs and sattelite location devices. The article is a fun, but sad, read. Lost hikers asking rescue services whether they could bring them some hot chocolate. Hikers in the Grand Canyon pressing the "rescue me" button on their satellite devices because the water tasted salty. Technology is a good thing I think overall, but you should not neglect the basics and be as self reliant as you can. I go out a lot into the wilderness, but I am always prepared. It is not that hard. Just plan.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lightroom bad highlight rendering

Lightroom 3 (I am using 3.2 RC) has some superb rendering nowadays. Lots of detail, pleasing grain behavior, great noise reduction and more. I am generally very happy with it. There is one area where it can use more work and I am not the only one to think that. I ran into this again recently in the below shot of a glassblower at a county fair. If you mouse over this image, you will see the rendering of the same raw file that is obtained from Nikon's capture NX. Pay attention to the flame.

Mouse over this link to see the image using the Adobe Standard profile

Clearly, Nikon's capture does a far better job creating a smooth transition in the highlight area of this image. The Lightroom version has two ugly posterized step transitions in it. Clearly it is not dealing well with areas that are blown out in one or more channels of the raw file. If you try different camera profiles in LR, you will get different highlight posterization but none as good as the Nikon Capture example. This is also often observed in images of setting suns and such where you will often see a weird halo around the sun. This is the same thing as was observed in the article I linked to above.
Of course, I would not want to do lots of work in Capture NX as that program has a horrid interface and I do not always like the color rendering, but clearly this is an area where Lightroom/ACR could improve.

EDIT: I added a mouse over link to show the image when using Adobe's Standard profile. It is better than the other profiles Adobe offers or one created using the profile editor or the Passport software, but it still does not do as smooth a highlight as Nikon's software.

EDIT 2/5/11. This issue has now been fixed by Adobe.

Monday, August 9, 2010

50 year anniversary

This month it was 50 years ago that Longs peak's famous east face diamond was first scaled by Dave Rearick and his partner Bob Kamps. The radio had a story on it this morning with interviews with the climbers and here is a nice account on the successful attempt. At the time, the climb was considered so dangerous that the parks service simply did not allow anyone to try. Kamps and Rearick obtained special permission. In honor of the anniversary here are some pictures I took of Longs Peak1 a while ago.

This is standing below the east face. I can't imagine climbing this thing.
The towering diamond face up close

A more traditional view standing on the other side of the lake:
Diamond and rocks

Here are more images. I wrote about the photo excursion that yielded these images some time ago.

1It always bothered me that the official spelling omits the apostrophe as the USGS mandates for most place names named after somebody.