Taken with a Nikon D810 and 14-24 Lens, @ 24mm in 3 vertical shots, stitched together in Lightroom
The view from the summit of Mt. Magazine offers some amazing vistas, and one of the best is looking out to the due south towards Blue Mt. Lake and Blue Mountain behind it. This shot was taken last year, in late October and I was able to catch the rising sun hitting the rock and old tree in the foreground. Mt. Magazine is the highest place in Arkansas and has a lot to offer the visitor. There is a wonderful lodge where you can spend the night and enjoy a great meal after hiking around on some of the trails. The area is also a favorite for rock climbing and hang gliding.
I like to work this particular spot on Mt. Magazine year round, but the spring and fall are my favorite times. The sun will only come into the frame during December and January, but you can still get great photographs during the rest of the year. The play of light is amazing here.
Mt. Magazine’s summit is 2,700 feet high, and is the highest place in Arkansas. You can see for many miles off in pretty much any direction. The lodge offers a higher vantage point so when you visit make sure stop by.
The view from Mt. Magazine’s north side is just as impressive, so make a point of driving over to that side also. There is a one way drive which has several pull outs for viewing. During the fall you can expect a lot of traffic and a bit of congestion, especially during the weekends. The lodge will be booked up a year in advance for the best dates in the fall so plan accordingly.
This image was taken with aid of a tripod, in 3 vertical segments with a Nikon D810 and 14-24 lens. I used the 24mm focal length and F8 with the base ISO. I did not use a polarizer since I was panning across the scene and knew that would cause problems with composition later. I used Lightroom to work on the raw files, and also to make the panorama. The fall colors were just a few days before peak when this image was taken.
Taken with a Fuji X-Pro2, ISO 400, 35mm F2.0 lens, at F9, Panorama taken in 4 vertical images, each segment 3 exposures for a total of 12. Worked up in Adobe LR
Calico Rock, is one of the more interesting spots on the White River in Arkansas. You can drive right to it and when you arrive, you have a sweeping view of one of the larger bends of the White River. The bluff is about 150 feet above the river and you really cannot see much of the bluff itself. However there is one vantage spot where you can look to the west an there is a small out cropping that adds a lot to the photograph. Many call this “little Hawksbill Craig” after the larger feature up on the Buffalo River. However I just like to photograph the valley. If you look downstream, you will see the town of Calico Rock on the left hand bank of the river.
This shot was taken in a series of vertical segments, 4 total and for each segment I exposed 3 images. I then worked each of the 3 shots into a HDR balanced image in Lightroom. After that, I took the final 4 images and created a panorama. It’s very important to realize that you do not want to do any work on the individual HDR segments before the panorama merge. I prefer to use the boundary warp feature of Lightroom also as most of panoramas in taken like this will only work in a spherical format and thus your top and bottom edges will have some problems.
The Fuji X-Pro2 makes this very easy with it’s automatic bracketing shutter, where you only have to press the shutter once to fire all 3 brackets.
I have found that Fuji made some very good positive changes to the dynamic range of the X-Pro2 as can be seen in this image. Also Adobe must have done a bit of tweaking to their X-trans conversion for the X-Pro2.
You can get to Calico Rock from Little Rock, in about 3 hours and the drive is quite beautiful.
Taken with a Phase One IQ100 and 35mm LS lens, 2 part horizontal pano. Taken in 4 shots to merge later for foreground and background in Helicon Focus
Arkansas has many great streams to hike but one of the best is Falling Water Creek, which is well named as it has a large number of waterfalls it’s entire length before emptying into Richland Creek. Falling water creek has an upper and lower half, and some of the best spots to photograph are on the lower half. There you will find creek wide ledges like 6 finger falls. 6 finger falls, named for the cut outs the creek has made in the ledge, is quite a wonder. It offers great photographic opportunities year round but is best in the fall and spring. You will be lucky to find any water in the creek in the fall and if you do consider yourself lucky. The banks are lined with deciduous trees that offer a great display of fall color.
You will also like the fact that for most of it’s length, falling water creek has a forest service road that parallels it’s length and so offers quick access. This of course means in Arkansas you can expect to find all types of folks here on a good weekend, so plan your trip during the week if at all possible. The forest road is number 1205. Heading due north on the road, falling water creek will be on your right for the upper half, and then after you cross it on the left. For a portion of it’s length, the Ozark Highland trail is just above the road on the right, below the bridge. This is great day hike also.
Make sure to include a trip to the mouth of falling water creek at Richland Creek campground. Richland is the crown jewel of creeks in Arkansas and is also protected as a Wilderness Area, so you can enjoy a day without hearing a 4 wheeler.
Taken in two frames with a Phase One IQ100 and Phase One 35mm LS lens, raw files developed in Capture One, panorama stitching in Lightroom.
We had driven up to 6 finger falls to attempt a night shoot, which did not work out due to the clouds that rolled in, however during the sunset, the light did allow for a wonderful series of photographs. I love to get down low on the creek, below the falls and attempt to grab some short pans, as the normal medium format of 4:3 does not allow for very much to work with. I am not a big fan of cropping out the center of a shot to get to a pano, as you loose so much image in the process.
Normally, I would have used my rail to get a nodal solution, but I had forgotten it. Using the Arca D4 geared head, it was easy enough to get level for each shot, then go back to Lightroom to let it work it’s magic on the panorama. Lightroom with the new panorama feature does a great job on single row stitching and now they have added a feature called boundary warp, which really does a great job. In the past, I had always used software like Ptgui or Kolor’s panorama software, to get a cylindrical solution, as I am panning with a wide lens, (the 35mm in medium format is equivalent to about 22mm with a 35mm camera), still not that wide. The 35mm LS has a pretty good hyper focal range by F11 and I took this at F14. Due to the subject range and distance, I was not worried about losing details to diffraction.
For these shots, I used both a circular polarizer and a Neutral Density filter. The polarizer was from B+W and the ND filter from HiTech, (their new Firecrest line). This allowed exposure times of around 1 sec, at an ISO of 50. There was little to no wind blowing so I was able to get away with just two exposures.
The addition of the boundary warp in Lightroom has really made this type of photography more fun and much quicker to get to a solution.
02/11/16 Featured Arkansas Landscape Photography–Wintertime Vista from the summit of Pinnacle Mountain
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Taken with a Canon 5d MKII, Canon 24-70 lens, @ 24mm and F 8 ISO 100 with a Circular Polarizer, Panorama taken in multiple vertical stitches
One of the most noticeable landmarks in Pulaski County, Arkansas is Pinnacle Mountain. The mountain is approximately 550 feet tall and has a commanding view of both Little Rock and the eastern approaches to the Ouachita Mountains. In fact the Ouchita trail starts at the Pinnacle Mountain Visitor center which is not far at all from the base of Pinnacle.
There are many trails up to the summit of Pinnacle, but the most common is the trail that goes up the west face. Here you get a great view of the slate rock that makes up most of the mountain and you can get some great views of the surrounding countryside.
This shot was taken after a heavy snow fall in February of 2009, and I was very lucky to catch the mountain right after the skies cleared. There was no one else there so the snow was totally undisturbed. My goal on this day was to get about 1/2 way up the mountain where the hard rock face starts to show up. The pitch of the climb can be upwards of 30 degrees, maybe a bit more and on a normal day this is not a problem. But on a snowy day things were a bit more difficult. Once on the summit I realized that the view was amazing and I wanted to take some panoramas. I did not have my tripod, but just shot away in multiple vertical hand held series and then stitched the images together later on with Photoshop. Now, I would most likely want to use Lightroom as it offers a lot more possibilities and power. But for this shot Photoshop was able to get the job done.
There was no wind and the snow was perfect in that everything was nicely coated. I did use a polarizer on the shots and wondered if I would be able to get an even sky but overall I like what I was able to produce. Pinnacle mountain is in western Pulaski county, in Arkansas and is well worth a hike if you have the time.
Taken with a Phase One IQ260 and Arca rm3di tech camera/40mm Rodenstock lens
This is a typical day at Haw Creek falls, and I was again lucky to be there without anyone else to stand around and get in the way during the shoot. Haw Creek is a lovely smallish creek that runs in the Big Piney Creek, not far from these falls. The falls are impressive since there is a large ledge that runs all the way across the creek and in higher water conditions the water will start to consume the entire ledge. I like to catch water about like this, just enough to keep most of the ledge in play but not too much to flood out the rocks below the falls. To get this shot, I used my Arca rm3di camera which allows movements like a large format camera with my digital camera back. The shot is actually a composite of 3 images, Left, Center and Right. The Left and Right segments represent 16mm of shift in those respective directions. This allows you to create a very high resolution panorama without any of the issues like parallax. The lens I used was as 40mm Rodenstock HR-W which allows for an excellent field of view when shifted.
You have to be careful when working Haw Creek as there tends to be a lot of wind blowing down the creek. In most cases, I prefer to take a 1 to 4 second exposure of the water which in most cases will have a lot of wind blur in the trees. So you have make sure to cover the tree movement with a second series of exposures around 1/125 to 1/250 to stop the wind movement. It’s a simple process to combine the files later since I am using a tech camera and the movements are very precise. To allow the longer exposures I used both a Circular Polarizer and a Neutral Density filter. The polarizer will help with glare on the water and rocks and adds about 1.5 stops of exposure to the shot. As this was a bright day, I had to use a 1.2x ND filter. When I was taking the faster exposures for the trees, I left the polarizer on, but took the ND filter off as I no longer needed the extra exposure compensation.
As I already mentioned, Haw Creek Falls, tends to be overrun with people during the peak times of the year. The best day to go is a Monday as there will not be as many people at the campground and thus less traffic around the falls. There are some great swimming spots above the falls in the large pool that is created by the ledge. It’s a great place to head to when you know you have some water running in the creek.