Peering into the hammock

Oak Hammock Park, Port. St. Lucie, Florida
Oak Hammock Park, Port. St. Lucie, Florida | Fuji X-E1 and 18-55mm lens | Exposed 1/17 sec. @ f/5, ISO 1600

While out letterboxing, Summer and I came upon a hidden gem of a local preserve in Port St. Lucie, Florida: Oak Hammock Park.  The winding path took us through seemingly endless palms, palmettos, and oaks.  We entered the path near dusk, and while the air was thick with humidity, we didn’t really get eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Strange!

I was very glad that I took the Fuji X-E1 with me; its light weight makes it easy to take anywhere, and the image stabilization built into the 18-55mm lens is surprisingly good.  The image above is very sharp despite being made at 1/17 sec hand-held!

More to come.

The sun sets over Merritt Island

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Florida
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Florida | Fuji X-E1 and 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens | Exposed 1/25 sec. @ f/8, ISO 800

As I mentioned in my posting the other day about learning from my mistake, we enjoyed a lovely scene over the wetlands of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  While my 5D Mark II was packed along for the ride, the camera I actually reached for was my new Fuji X-E1.  Why? It’s small and light enough–and the IS built into the 18-55mm lens good enough–to let me “hail mary” the camera above my head for a better angle on the landscape.  I certainly won’t abandon 35mm format anytime soon, but I continue to be impressed by the capabilities and quality available with compact systems.

Filters for an entirely different feel

Blue Ridge Highway sunset
Blue Ridge Highway sunset, North Carolina | Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm f/4L IS lens @ 135mm | Exposed 1/125 sec. @ f/14, ISO 100 | Edited in Nik Color Efex 4

Say what you will about the height of the mountains of the eastern United States.  No, they do not soar to the heights of those in the west, but there’s something rather special about the ridges that color the horizon in blue.  And while I am still finding my footing with Nik Color Efex 4, and would normally find effects like the one above to be “over the top,” I found that for this image, it simply “worked.”  Does it have a “true black” and a “true white?”  No.  Did the 5D Mark II actually produce that much noise, let alone noise that looks like film grain?  No.  Does it matter?  I think that’s up to the viewer.  More to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blue Sky over the Blue Ridge Highway
Blue Sky over the Blue Ridge Highway near Blowing Rock, NC | Canon 5D Mark II and 24mm f/3.5L TS-E | Multiple exposures at f/16, ISO 100

Here in the United States its Thanksgiving, a day to be with friends and family.  In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d post one of the images that blends a technique I’ll be writing more about soon: blending HDR and stitching to get large photographs with incredibly wide tonal values while still looking pretty “normal!”

Black Creek Greenway Stitched HDR

Black Creek Greenway
Black Creek Greenway, Cary, North Carolina | Canon 5D Mark III and 24mm f/3.5L TS-E | Multiple exposures at f/11, ISO 200

Recently I began working more with landscape photography and, in turn, my old habit of making multiple photographs of a scene and stitching them together.  Related to that, I recently began to explore what would happen if I made multiple versions of the multiple pictures to be stitched together: that is, what if you bracket for High Dynamic Range photography with each “view” in a panorama or other stitched image.  The results can be pretty amazing, but so is the amount of work that can be required to pull it off!  I’ll be writing more on this topic after Thanksgiving!

Forest Glow

Forest Glow
Forest Glow, Cary, North Carolina | Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 48mm | Seven bracketed exposures converted with Nik HDR Efex

While I was experimenting with a 5D Mark III camera body on loan from CPS, I discovered that one of its killer apps is for high dynamic range photography.  No, not its built-in HDR functionality (which is rather underwhelming).  Rather, I am referring to its ability to set autoexposure bracketing for up to seven frames and, when the shutter button is depressed, automatically go into mirror lock-up and rapidly fire each frame in sequence.  The one wrinkle?  If you already have mirror lock-up enabled, this while actually cause a hiccup: it will want you to hit the shutter for each frame.  Canon, please fix this quirk in your next firmware release!

This is much more useful than previous incarnations of autoexposure bracketing: three images really is not enough for HDR photography.  Seven?  I can work with seven!