Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HDR Photography How To- "On Golden Pond"

Click for larger image.

First of all, I'd like to thank Tom aka Fishing Guy, from Kent Ohio, and Heather of the Hills, for inspiring me borrow the original "On Golden Pond" film from the library. I was explaining that I'd never seen a loon at Little Pond, Maine, and Tom was surprised, since the movie "On Golden Pond" portrays them as a regular sight and sound for the Thayers. Not so for Little Pond- I just don't think it is big enough to support loons.

Getting back to the movie- Megan and I watched it, and although it is a bit dated, a bit slow, and a bit cheesy- it was really worth our time. The movie does a superb job of illustrating what the lake life is like in Maine- idyllic.

Now, onto how I created the picture above. Obviously, this type of view is something that an ordinary camera cannot capture with a single image. However, using a photographic technique called high dynamic range photography, or HDR, we photographers can take multiple exposures of the same scene and merge them in a software called Photomatix. The resulting merged image can then be tone mapped, also using Photomatix, to allow the bright areas and the shadow areas of the image to be exposed as the eye would see them in nature.

Let's see how this works- here are the three images that went into making my On Golden Pond- Little Pond photograph-.

The three shots are not exactly impressive are they? One reason for this is that they're minimally processed RAW files, straight out of the camera. Photomatix, with a great deal of input from the user by adjusting many features with sliders and buttons, can really make magic.


P.S. I'll give 10 points, yes, 10 points, to the commenter that can correctly identify the scientific name of the deciduous tree prominently featured in the right hand portion of this image.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horizontal Panorama- Dusk at Little Pond

First vertical panorama photography, and now a horizontal panorama of Little Pond, Maine, from our Mid October 2009 visit.

This shot was taken well past sunset. At this stage, the clouds are entirely backlit from the last tiny bit of the day's sunlight. I've found that this period, just before pitch black, is one of my favorite picture taking times at Little Pond.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vertical Panorama Photography- The Bur Oak

Hi All- Megan and I are settling back into Ohio. There is just something about a week long vacation in Maine that made me wordless upon our return for a few days, but now that we're here and living our lives once again, I'm getting back into the swing of things.

As a photographer, have you tried shooting multi-image panoramas? If you haven't you really should. It's just crazy fun. I made this seven image composite of our backyard oak tree in Adobe Photoshop CS4. I've also used Canon PhotoStitch to make panoramas. PhotoStich is a free program that came with your Canon camera software (other camera owners will have to help me out with this one- does Nikon offer a free photostitch software?) Even if you don't have a Canon camera, you can download it and use it all for free.

As you can see, even with multiple photographs, I wasn't able to get the whole tree in the frame. Maybe I can? What if I took multiple vertical rows of images stacked upon each other, and then tried to use the Adobe CS4 photomerge tool?

Also- If you do go and try to do this- make sure you shoot in manual and turn off autofocus. You'll want the images to have identical exposures and focal point- if they don't, your finished product could look very strange.

All of this panoramic photography has been prompted by two things. First, this incredible composite image from the latest National Geographic that must be seen in the magazine to be appreciated. And second, I have been tasked to shoot a vertical and horizontal panoramic photograph for my most recent assignment at Columbus State.

Although this type of photography might sound gimmicky, it allows us nature lovers to present the natural world in interesting way that captures so much more information than a single frame image. It's almost like being there, but not quite, but just close enough to be really interesting.


Also- Here's another free panoramic maker, that a reader pointed out to me, this one from Microsoft.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Welcome Back to Ohio

Ok- I'm not welcoming you back to Ohio, per se, but myself. Living a week in the cool, clean, and quiet air of the Maine woods was amazing, and it has taken some time to acclimate back to the city life. I'm giving it my all though.

Perhaps one of my greatest reminders of how wonderful Ohio is came this evening, as I scrolled through the wonderful images submitted to the Ohio Nature Photographers group on FLICKR. If you are a photographer and enjoy shooting the natural world of Ohio, I encourage you to join us. In under a year, we've gathered 227 members that have submitted over 3000 fantastic photographs of all things natural in Ohio.

And for everyone that has joined and contributed, I must thank you for creating such great photographs and reminding me that my home state is absolutely wonderful.


UPDATE- I myself have found the above slideshow mesmerizing. I dare you to watch it for only 10 seconds.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Night and Goodbye from Little Pond


Our stay has come to an end. Tomorrow we will head back to Columbus and leave Little Pond for Megan's Parents to enjoy. The next time we'll be back, ice will cover this pond and the geese that descended upon the water today will also be long gone. We've had a great vacation here in western Maine- we scaled two mountains, did the obligatory trip to L.L. Bean, and even ate a genuine New England boiled dinner held in the basement of the church where Megan and I were married. And Weston loved every bit of our stay. Can we ask for anything more?

When we visit here for a full week, we get a taste of what life in rural Maine is like- clean air and lots of nature, but the drive to town, to the store, to church, to the gas station- well, that just gets old. At home in the city, I never wish for more activity, more civilization, more things to do. But after a week in the Maine woods, I'm somewhat longing for our city once more. I know this feeling will be short lived- once back in the hub-bub of Columbus, I'll be wishing for the clean air and orange post-sunset glow reflecting into little pond.


Loon Fake Out


Megan, Weston, and I have had a wonderful time visiting Little Pond this week in Otisfield Maine. One bird that I'd always wanted to see swimming on the water here is a loon. I haven't yet seen one, but when we first arrived last Saturday, this cormorant got my heart beating quickly. It was far across the water, and without binoculars, its silhouette was mighty loon-like. A quick look through the resident Nikon bins and my excitement level dropped as soon as I saw the hooked bill of a cormorant.

Still- I hadn't seen cormorants in the past four years of exploring nature here, so it was interesting to watch them this week. A pair flies in very early in the morning and begins to fish, diving down and surfacing after 30 seconds or so. One afternoon, as we were about to leave for a hike, I looked down to the dock and saw this bird basking in the sun. A slow stalk with the camera ensued, and I was able to come within about 30 feet without it ever really caring that I was there.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Snowfall on the Presidential Range


This afternoon, Megan and I hiked to the summit of Mount Pleasant, near Bridgton Maine. A 1.8 mile hike that ascends over 1500 feet, the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular. To the west lies the Presidential Range of New Hampshire, most famous for Mount Washington, home to the world's worst weather. And today was no exception. We were high above the hills of Maine and hovering in the low forties, but across the way on top of these mountains, it was snowing. The high temperature for Mountain Washington today was a cool 20 degrees, and when I just checked the temperature at 6:19 p.m. Wednesday evening, it was down to 10 degrees with a -16 windchill.

From our vantage point, the mountains were shrouded in what looked like icy, snowy fog, which was quite a contrast to the valley below that was experiencing the peak of autumn.


Good Morning


Wow it was cold this morning at Little Pond-frost covered everything in the bog. I took this image just as the sun had risen high enough to illuminate the entire forest and bog across the pond. The Tamaracks are really starting to glow yellow, and the maples are all shades of yellow, scarlet, and orange.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Evening Light at Little Pond

Evening Light at LIttle Pond, originally uploaded by Tom Arbour.

We're enjoying the clean, cool, air here in Maine. It's wonderful to get away from everything once in a while.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Life in the Goldenrod

Solidago canadensis and various insects, shot over several weeks in our backyard during late summer and autumn, 2009.

I accidentally uploaded each image full size- my bad will lead to your viewing pleasure. Click on each image to see these insects up really close.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Metroparks Challenge #4 Blendon Woods in the Rain

Just pictures this evening, I hope you enjoy what Megan, Weston, and I saw on our quick but fruitful walk to Thoreau Lake at Blendon Woods Metropark on the Columbus' northeast side. September 26th, 2009.


Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm Back

I'm back to the blogosphere- I took a long weekend and didn't even look at any blogs- I must say, it was somewhat refreshing to throw my total concentration to something else for a while. And what might that something else be?

Wedding photography- And here is the happy couple.

I photographed Bec and Ben's wedding this past weekend in Perrysburg, Ohio. Bec is Megan's first cousin, and they trusted me with doing my first full blown wedding. For those of you out there that dabble in photography- let me tell you, it was intense. I now have a real appreciation for what it is like to be a professional photographer for a day. And although I often shoot pictures of Megan and Weston, working with a bride, groom, wedding party, families, friends, and many other people throughout the day was quite a different experience.

My main worry was battery power, and believe it or not I took over 1400 pictures and my camera is still reading full power with the second set of two lithium batteries in my external battery grip. The AA's in the flash was another story- The flash was also hooked up to a battery pack around my waist. It was using 12 rechargable AA's at one time, but it still didn't last all that long. Luckily I have a 15 minute quick charger, plus I had two redundant sets of batteries- 36 AA in all.

Now, I'm back to nature. This week Megan and I'll will blog about our hike #4 to Blendon Woods, which happened in the rain, plus I'll start my backyard goldenrod series. Hopefully we can get a short metropark hike in one evening this week, because, we're not going to have all that much time left. You've guessed it, it's leaf peeping season in Maine, and we'll be heading there Saturday for a week.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Few of my Favorites

I'm taking a three day hiatus from the blogosphere- I encourage you to explore The Ohio Nature Blog. I have written over 700 posts, and here are some posts of note.

My Very First Blog Post from January 20th, 2006 where I discuss my aspirations of being a political blogger (it lasted one post) and mentioning my wonderful girlfriend Megan. It wasn't very good. Let's just say I think I met my main objective of starting this blog- to improve my writing.

Prepping to go to Maine to get Married Yep- that's right Megan and I were married in an white-clapboard wooden church in small town Maine, and had our reception overlooking Little Pond. Some proof to me I was single. Megan and I have a fantastic relationship. My brain finds it hard to remember what my life was like before we met.

Regarding One's Home, the story of my home, and one of my favorite bits of writing that I've done here.

Every once in a while I paint or draw Before I purchased a digital SLR camera, I also dabbled with watercolors throughout the winter. I should do this once again, I miss it.

The Birth of our Son Weston Images from his first day breathing air, exactly seven months ago tomorrow.


My Best Photographs of 2008

If that last past didn't satisfy your need for natural eye candy, be sure to take a look at the long key word listing below and to the right on the blog's side bar.

Have a fantastic weekend.