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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 Phase One IQ180 and Arca rm3di with Schneider 43mmSK lens, iso 100 @ 1/125th and F11. This was a interesting evening as there was a wedding going on at the same time. I was pretty amazed to see anyone trying to get married in a wind that was blowing as much as 30 mph at times. I kept trying to move to stay out of their way, however they wanted the bride and groom to stand where they could be in the sunset. Oh well, I am sure they don’t remember me with good feelings. Something to remember if want to have a wedding in a public spot. This shot for me was a winner and I was impressed with the Phase One IQ180 which I was blessed to use on this day. The conditions were less than perfect as I was shooting into direct sunlight and the wind was blowing close to 30 mph at times and really never stopped, which can be a common occurance at Sam’s anytime of the year.
To make matters worse, I was using a CCD Phase One IQ180 and knew that I was going to be limited in the shutter speeds I could use. I also knew that I more than likely would get some massive flare since I was shooting directly into the sun. I have seen that the Schneider’s don’t create as much of a damaging flare as the Rodenstock lenses do. At the time of this shot, I was using a Rodenstock 28mm and the Schneider 43mm. I knew I wanted the wide range of the 28mm, but I also knew that I would pay for the use of the Rodenstock with massive damaging flare. So I used the Schneider and was very happy with the result.
I did not use a CL-PL as I was concerned that I limit the amount of available light and thus create too much noise. Instead I took a series of bracketing exposures. I took this shot in a vertical series, but the Schneider is not noted for a great amount of hyperfocal range ever with tilt, so I figured I would not use the lower parts. After looking at the shot, I liked the center segment the best and just went with it. It’s going to be hard to see in this shot, but I was able to stop most of the motion at 1/125 of second shutter speed. The Schneider created a wonderful solar flare, which reached all the way through the shot. Many times such flares are faked later on Photoshop, but this one came from the aperture setting of F11. There were some contrails to contend with, but overall the colors I was able to pull from this shot still make me pretty happy.
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 1D MK IV, Canon 24-70 Lens @F11, iso 250, Multiple exposure technique used to create photo. In the summer months it’s often very easy to catch a late afternoon thunderstorm rolling in behind Pinnacle mountain. On this evening the light had started out with just a bright sun with very few clouds, but as the evening approached, bank of thunderheads rolled in to the left of Pinnacle. The wind seemed to die down quite a bit, so since I was using older Canon equipment with a very limited dynamic range, I went ahead and shot a 4 shot bracketed exposure. I was able to catch the sun just as it was starting to roll down behind the ridge behind Pinnacle. The contrast between the dark thunderhead and the high cirrus clouds was impressive and I stayed around for as long as could before it got too dark.
Taken with a Nikon D800e, iso 100, Nikon 14-24 Lens @14mm, F9, 1/1250 of a second, Single Exposure. I was lucky enough to catch this great sunset as the sun was just dropping over Cameron Bluff on Mt. Magazine last week. All day the weather had been overcast and hazy, but when I reached the summit of Mt. Magazine, things changed dramatically. The sky started to clear and the temperature dropped by as much as 20 degrees. The wind was blowing out of the north and I figured the wind chill was close to 24 degrees F. I had been working the opposite side of the Cameron Bluff overlook and just happened to turn around in time to catch a great sunset over the bluff. I did not have my tripod and with the wind that was blowing I knew I had to go to a very fast shutter speed to stop the trees in the foreground. I set the camera to iso 100 and then moved my shutter speed to 1/1250. The overall exposure was quite dark in the area around the bluff and the sun appeared to be overexposed, but as I worked the image up in Capture One 7 I was pleased to see that I had an amazing amount of detail still available to me in the hills below the bluff. My only issue was FLARE, which is a real problem with the Nikon 14-24 whenever you are shooting into the sun. I have a love/hate relationship with this lens as it’s so sharp but the issue with flare is terrible. I spent more time working on the flare issues than anything else. The 14-24 tends to create a rainbow looking flare and depending on the angle to the sun it can tend to dominate the lower portion of a shot away from the sun. As you are shooting into the sun and want the sun in the shot, there is no way I know of block out the flare at the time of exposure. The D800e was still able to give me a wonderful shot that I feel captured the moment perfectly!