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Taken with a Fuji X-T1 and Fujion 16-55 lens, in 2 landscape segments and converted into a panorama in Photoshop
In December I was able to take sometime off and spend the Christmas weekend at Mt Magazine Lodge. The weather I had hoped for was snow but instead the daytime temperature was in the high 60’s, (and they say we don’t have global warming going on!!), but at least it did not rain while were there. The days in December are quite short but I was able to get some wonderful sunrise and sunset shots from below the lodge.
In the summer months, the sun will set behind the main part of Mt. Magazine, so the best time to grab a sunset shot is in December and January. During these months the sun will just barely be visible on the far right side of the shot. However to capture both the famous trees below the lodge, you will need to work your shot into a panorama. There are many ways to do this, but on this evening, I went with the fastest method, which was to just take two horizontal shots and then merge them back into one final image later one. This is usually an easy process, but on this evening, there was a lot of wind blowing so I had to bracket not only for the light but to stop the trees blowing on either side of the shot.
There are many great spots to capture the view from the summit of Mt Magazine, but this has to be the most famous as it features the Bonsai Juniper tree that is used in all the literature from Mt. Magazine and is the emblem used by Mt Magazine State Park. I have never been to Mt Magazine when the large cedar tree on the right side of the shot was alive, but standing as it does bare against the sky makes for an interesting shot. In the valley below you will see Blue Mt. Lake and the town of Havana. The two peaks off in the distance are both about 1,500 feet tall, and the one of the left is Blue Mountain. You can easily see the boundary of the state park, as it’s where the pine trees begin, as all of the hillsides below the state park have been cut.
The clouds this day were most impressive starting out with a nice band just above Blue Mountain and then a large group formed just around the sun which made for an even better view.
Taken with a Nikon D800e, 14-24 Lens @ 15mm and F 3.5 in a series of stacked exposures. This shot was taken in February of 2013 on a very clear night from the summit of Mt. Magazine. The view is directly to the south looking over Havana Arkansas. In the distance you can see Blue Mt. Lake and Blue Mountain itself. I believe that Blue Mt. is the on the left. It would be a tall mountain if not for Mt. Magazine as Magazine dwarfs Blue Mountain.
This is one shot but it was composed by taking around 30 or so stacked exposures of 45 seconds. I had a 3/4 moon that night so the illumination down into the valley is all from the moon. I did some light painting on the tree on the left as the moon light was not going to get there until much later. I did not want to wait that long as by the time the moon would provide that illumination it would also be causing both flare and over exposure issues. This night there was quite a bit of traffic down in the valley along Hwy 10, but it just adds to the overall effect to me. I am always amazed when I look down into this valley during the day it’s hard to see any building of significant size, but at night even the smallest light will show up.
I first worked this shot up back in 2013 and thought I had a good version. Recently when viewing that shot, I realized that I had not been very accurate with the star trail work, and in fact I had a dip. This happens when you just slightly move the camera. It doesn’t take much to offset the trails. The best bet is just don’t touch anything until you are done. I say that, but I usually have to stop the series somewhere in the middle to see if I am getting some damaging flare. The Nikon 14-24 will flare with any amount of light that hits the outer element from the side and the flare can be very destructive and next to impossible to correct in post processing work. Flare tends to totally shift the blue of the sky to a red or yellow hue and tend to have a very hard demarcation which makes removal quite difficult.
Here is my first version of this work, and I greatly prefer the new one. I was able to pull out a lot more of the details in the valley. I also re-worked each of the images to try and pull out more of the trails on the left side. In this location the moon will pass from the left side to right and thus makes an even exposure pretty hard to obtain. However working in Lightroom and with some filters I have I pulled out more definition from the faint trails on the left side.
Taken with a Phase One IQ260 & Rodenstock 28mm HR lens, with an Arca rm3di, image created by combining 2 nodal pans. Mt. Magazine, which is the highest spot in Arkansas at around 2700 feet, has some wonderful views. One of the best is from from rock ledge below the Lodge where you have a wonderful view of the Blue Mountain, and Blue Mountain Lake off in the distance. This view is looking southwest, and shows the fall colors at peak or near peak. The deciduous trees in the area include, Maples, Hickory and various Oaks. You can also see the effect of the massive amount of forestry cutting in the lower valley which is beyond the boundary of the State Park where all the trees are now pines. These are not the natural pine to Arkansas, the short leaf, but instead Loblolly and or Slash pines, both of which were planted after the clear cuts were made. All of the lower foothills of Mt. Magazine are covered in this type of tree.
This is a hard shot to get in one frame with a 4:3 ratio camera like the IQ260 Medium Format back, so I worked in a series of pans, where I set the 28mm Rodenstock at a spot on my tripod that was close to the nodal point for the lens. This allowed me to pan across the scene and then combine the images into one larger frame later on. On this day, the sky was a radiant blue with some very high cirrus clouds that were rolling in from the west. With a tech camera like the Arca rm3di, and the Rodenstock 28mm lens, this type of shot is a bit more difficult since you have to correct for the color cast the lens creates. I used the Rodenstock Center filter on the lens and a linear polarizer to enhance both the blue in the sky and fall colors, as the sun was over my left shoulder and provided perfect conditions for polarization.
This is popular spot on the weekends, but during the week, most times you will not find anyone around so plan your trips accordingly. Make sure you take enough time to drive around the entire summit of Mt. Magazine as there are many great vantage points for photography.
Taken with an iPhone 5, all settings automatic. Every once and a while I will take out my iPhone 5 and shoot a shot of something that has caught my eye, something that is changing too fast for me to get out the “real” cameras. On this day, I was headed back over to the south side (Havana Arkansas) of Mt. Magazine when I saw this really amazing cloud formation. I knew that by the time I setup my other gear this scene would be gone, as clouds are constantly changing. I shot a couple of shots before I finally got the iPhone to realize I was trying to expose for the sky and not the foreground. I am not a big fan of the iPhone camera, just way too much noise and not enough details, but the world seems to think that this type of technology is the future of photography, which is a bit sad. Ok I guess if you want to post it on Facebook or Pintrest or whatever the most current instant photo gratification website is at the moment. For it was the fact that is one cloud was just sitting in a perfect circle and all the other clouds were moving away from it, almost like the way a water drop creates a ripple. The sky was also full of jets that day and I just left the contrails alone. The original image had so much noise in it (which surprised me since I had so much light) that I worked it up in both Lightroom and Photoshop and then added a bit of Clarity from Topaz. I re-discovered Mt. Magazine in 2013 and plan to make many more trips there as it’s such a unique spot in Arkansas.