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Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 24-70mm Lens, ISO 400 to 800 bracketed, and exposure bracketed in 5 separate exposures.
The early morning hours on the Buffalo tend to be some of the best to photograph the river. I love to hike up to the summit of one of the river bluffs and then wait for the morning fog to lift over the river. However sometimes the best shots are taken in the fog as this one was.
On this morning, I was setup to catch the fog rising and wanted to keep my lens out of the sun, so I was aiming westward. During the long morning wait I went back to my pack to get a drink and just happened to see this shot, as the sun was starting to break through the fog. I was barely able to run back to the camera, grab my camera/tripod and catch this shot.
I took this image in 5 exposure and ISO brackets since I knew that the Canon camera would not allow me the dynamic range to capture it in one shot. The Canon 1ds MKII, as good as it was for the time @ 16MP was pretty terrible with shadow recovery. Most the shots I took during this time were all in exposure brackets. Still the sun coming through the fog has always been a hard part of the shot to get just right. I did not want to the bright orb of the sun to just break through the shot, but instead I wanted it to just barely show. Many of the HDR software tools at the time would not allow for this, and I ended up having to do a manual bracketing exposure. Since then I have re-worked this shot many times over the years and but still have come back to my early versions as my preference.
This photograph has been printed up to sizes of 40 x 60 and has been selected by several Hospitals and offices in Arkansas to be placed in their permanent collections.
Taken with an Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24 lens @ 14mm F8, iso 64, 1/3 of a second in a single exposure.
This is one of those images that you have to work on a while, then come back to and work it some more and then again and again. I took this shot while on a sunset/night shoot with Chris Kennedy from Russellville. We were just setting up for the night, on 10/04/14, knowing that we were way to early for the maximum fall color display, however I wanted to work with the best moonlight for later on that evening. You can barely see some pretty strong color up on top of the bluff, and the trees on the right bank were showing a bit of yellow. I have been to this spot hundreds of times and sunsets here are hit and miss. I have one other shot that is similar taken over 2 years ago, where it was also dead calm and the clouds started to get illuminated by the sun.
On this evening it started out with nothing, then as the sun crept down the left side of the frame, a bunch of high clouds rolled in. I started immediately for a spot further down the river, where I know one of the best reflections can be taken from. You have to watch this spot when certain photographers are “teaching” as they will all line up here and block the river. However it was still a bit early for this particular photographer and his minions to flock down the river. Chris decided to stay up higher and go for a different shot, but I wanted the full bluff reflection. If there is no wind on the river the reflection here will be as sharp as looking in a mirror, which on this evening it was.
As the sun set, the light on the bluff and clouds just got better. The sun hit the far right side of the bluff and turned it yellow and the afterglow on the middle of the bluff took on a wonderful rose color. The fact that there was no wind offered one great reflection of both the bluff and the clouds. I started to shoot this series with the Nikon D810, and really was not paying much attention to my histogram. I was a bit more concerned about the trees and such in the foreground and forgot to look to see if I was blowing out the sky. I was right on the line of 255:255:255: as it turned out, but somehow manged to get 5 or 6 frames that were no blown. I really attribute this to the Nikon D810’s amazing range of dynamic range at the base iso of 64. Normally I would have setup a bracketed series of exposures, but the light was changing so fast, I just shot as fast as I could and manually tried to change the bracketing but I did not really change the exposure enough to really protect the sky. The D810 is bit more tricky on highlight recovery than the D800 was and I was still shooting with the D800 mindset.
I knew from memory just how dramatic the light was that evening, so I worked this image up about 3 different times and attached different aspects of it each time. One time the sky, then the bluff, then the shadows on both banks. My main goal was to capture the amazing play of light on the bluff, from the rose color to the bright golden color on the far right. I then had to work up the reflections and make sure that the colors matched.
This shot was totally worked up in Lightroom and Photoshop. I ended up going back and forth several times before I got the image the way I wanted it. I then tweaked the colors with Topaz Clarity, which is final step I use now on pretty much all my shots.
Overall, the end result is shown here and once again it shows just how beautiful the Buffalo River and it’s bluffs can be.
Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 14mm F 2.8 lens, in a bracketed series of exposures @ iso 200 This one is a special shot as it was one of those photographs that was just pure luck. I was up on the Buffalo River with Bob Shull, mainly to work the night skies, and we were just up on the river setting up our cameras. I had been looking downstream as the moon was starting to rise and it was in a very nice position. I had left my Canon 5D MKII setup for a upstream shot of Roark bluff for later that night. The evening skies had been cloudless, so I was not very interested in a sunset. I remember for some reason I looked around, probably due to a noise on the river, and wow, all of a sudden a bank of clouds had rolled at just the right time and they were on fire! I had to shoot the 5D MKII in a series of bracketed exposures as I knew that I would not be able to pull in the entire exposure with just one frame. This scene only lasted about 6 minutes and then the sun dropped below the bluff. My first series, missed the reflections of the sunset on the water at my feet. The river was not dead calm, but I still was able to pull in the reflection of the sunset on the water and the river rocks.
This was one of those once in a life time lucky lighting shots, that unless you happen to live on the river and can be out there everyday, just doesn’t happen very often. This was one of the last major photographs I took with the Canon, as I was in the process of transitioning to my Nikon D800, however I was much more familiar with the Canon at the time, so I shot with it.
Nighttime photography has become one of my greatest passions in the last 4 years. I have expanded into all types of varieties but still tend to mainly work with traditional landscape settings. Within the state of Arkansas there are so many different subjects that I have interest in working with. These range from scenes along the Buffalo River to views of the Little Rock skyline. Within all of these shots I tend to tie in working with the moon for illumination since it provides such a amazing amount of light when used in the correct proportions. I have listed some examples of what can be accomplished in a this gallery.
Here is some information behind each image in the gallery.
- Nighttime view from the Lodge on Mt. Magazine. This is a single exposure taken with a Nikon D800e for approximately 15 seconds with a 14-24 zoom lens at iso 200. In this shot was was trying to capture the full effect of the rising moon but not allow the moonlight to totally blow out the surround stars. In the right hand portion of the night sky you can make out Orion. The moonlight provides a wonderful blue hue to the night sky and eliminates all the of yellow color which is generated by local light pollution. I had to take a few extra shots of the lodge since the interior lights were blown out by the original 15 second shot.
- Big Dipper over Roark Bluff on the Buffalo River. Using a Canon 5D MKII and a 15mm fisheye lens, I was able to capture this shot in a single exposure. The big dipper is directly over the middle of the bluff and is pointed almost straight up. Over the course of one night the Big dipper will rotate around the north star and eventually will rotate below the bluff. All of the light on the bluff was provided by the moon which was about 3/4’s full.
- Ghost walkers at Sam’s Throne. Taken with a Canon 1D MKIV and 15mm fish-eye lens. On this shot I used the fish-eye lens to accentuate the effect of the pine trees on both sides of the road, in effect framing the shot. Some campers had built a large bonfire nearby and it provided an excellent source of local lighting. During the exposure of the shot, I had some people walk by with head lamps on which just added to the overall effect of the shot. This was a single exposure for about 30 minutes and I was lucky to have the fire burn overexposure on the shot. The moon was still barely out when this shot was taken and gave the excellent dark blue color to the sky.
- Midnight at Sam’s Throne and moonset. Taken with a Canon 5D MMKII, 15mm fish-eye lens at iso 2000 for approximately 20 seconds. This shot is one of my all time favorites. The night was very calm and thus all the trees were not blurred by the wind. I was able to place the moon in the small pine tree to the right of center of the shot which kept it from overexposing the shot. The moon provided an excellent amount of light to both the rocks in the foreground and the bluff line in the distance, not to mention on Sam’s Throne itself. This was taken as a single exposure. There was considerable noise in the sky, but by using Lightroom to develop the shot I was able to get a very clean final image.
- Lightening Strike over Pinnacle Mountain. Taken with a Canon 5D MKII and 24-70 lens. For this shot I was forced to move to the shelter of my car since the air was filled with static electricity. I placed the camera outside the car on my tripod and then triggered the shot with a remote release. I took several shots that night close to 20, but only got this one which captured the blot of lightening directly over the top of Pinnacle mountain. This is an example of just how much luck is involved in capturing just the right shot.
- Star trails over Roark Bluff on the Buffalo River. Traditional nighttime shot allowing the earth rotation to create star trails. I kept the shutter open for a full 45 minutes and then had to wait another 45 minutes for the camera to write a dark frame. The resulting image was one of the best night shots I ever captured up on the Buffalo River. This night was dead calm and the sky was totally clear of clouds with the temperature around 42 degrees. Just perfect conditions for nighttime photography.
Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 24-70 lens @ 24mm, Image is a composite of several different exposures. There are times that I will remember more than others on the Buffalo River. This photograph is one of those days as I had a great landscape opportunity on this morning. While everyone else was out chasing the Elk, (which are a bit on the tame side) I found this scene near Roark and Bee bluffs. The trees around this area vary from Maple, Sweet Gum and various Oaks. Most often in the fall in Arkansas the various trees tend to change colors independently and don’t come together to give a great color display. This spot near Steel Creek landing features two of the most prominent bluffs on the upper river and in the fall you can sometimes catch early sunrise shots like this one. There was no wind and just a bit of light fog was rolling across the tops of the trees below the bluff. I was able to shoot this scene only by using several different exposures to catch the bright sun and deep shadows in the foreground. I am now finding that with a Nikon D800 many times scenes like this can be taken with just one exposure due to the extreme dynamic range of the sensor of the D800.
Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 16-35mm Lens, 3 exposure raw bracket converted in LR to final image. When you consider the Buffalo River, one the most beautiful times to photograph is fall. The last couple of years, the fall along the Buffalo has been lacking in overall color. There were spots that contained excellent color but for the most part especially along the ridge tops, most of the trees just turned brown. This spot which is featuring two of the most famous river bluffs, Roark and Bee bluffs, has a great line of gum and maple trees at the base of the bluff. On this day, I was there early hoping for a valley full of fog, instead I only found a slight amount in the immediate trees, but with the rising sun and dramatic clouds that were present it still made for a great shot.
Taken with a Phase One P45+, 45 minutes, 35mm F3.5 lens @ F4.5, iso 50, Phase One DF Camera, One of the most amazing aspects of photography is working with time lapse shooting at night. By leaving the camera shutter open and using just the ambient lighting from the moon, you can get some great night photographs. In this shot I was working the Buffalo River Valley near Steel Creek which is one of the most popular spots along the upper Buffalo. There were no clouds and the sky was very clear with very little wind, perfect conditions for night work. I left the shutter open for 45 minutes which allowed me to capture the movement of the earth around the north star. If you can find the north star in the night sky then you will get the concentric circles outward from the north star. If you don’t have the north star, then you will get different patterns to the star movement, sometimes waves or other partial circles. I feel that the best shot will have a northern view even if the north star has dropped below the horizon. Remember, the moonlight will give the sky the wonderful blue tint.
Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 24-70 lens, F 7.1 at 1/40th, iso 400. When I am out working in the early morning, I often try to find shots where the fog can act as a major effect in the shot. On a morning like this, the fog did not lift for almost 3 hours but as it started, the sun briefly highlighted this lone branch which was just starting to leaf out in spring. Many people have looked at this shot and felt that it was taken in the fall, however if you look closely you can see that the oak leaves are just starting to open. This lone tree has taken a beating over the years but each time I come back to this spot it still there and and survived for another season of snow and ice during a typical Ozark winter. During the time I took this shot you could hear trucks and cars moving around in the valley below and people’s voices, but as the fog was so thick you couldn’t see anything. This is a great time to work the Ozark Bluffs and not just on the Buffalo River, but the Buffalo tends to allow for more fog.