Taken with a Canon 1ds MKII (16MP), multishot bracket for exposure, Canon 24-70 @ 24mm F 11 iso 200
This an example where it pays to work with older files, in this case, way back 2004, with more modern software. I have taken a lot of sunsets at Sam’s Throne, however this is still one of my all time favorites. When I purchased my Canon 1ds MKII, which had 16MP, I started retracing many of trips to places I loved to go as I felt that 16MP would be about the maximum in resolution for a long time to come. We all know that changed pretty quickly. However on this evening, I found the best shot was after the sun set as it painted a wonderful afterglow in the sky. Sam’s Throne was just starting to change for fall but there was plenty of color around. To make the shot perfect, the couple of clouds that rolled into the frame helped to breakup the solid sky.
Sam’s Throne is one of premier climbing spots in Arkansas but it’s also one of the best for photography. You have a huge bluff line that runs at least 1/2 mile or longer and allows for wonderful views of the Big Creek valley. In this view you can see the Throne itself and all the rolling hilss that work their way off into the distance. The forest here is a good mix of both pine and deciduous trees, mainly Oak, and Gum but there are also some nice Maples scattered though the valley. One of the best aspects of Sam’s Throne is the fact that you can drive very close to the bluffline and you only have about a 1/8 of a mile walk to get started. Sam’s Throne is a great place to camp also as there is now a primitive campground with about 10 sites.
As this series of shots was taken with an older Canon Digital camera, the noise in the shadows was excessive. The 1ds MKII was not noted for extreme dynamic range. Back in the day, I shot almost everything in brackets knowing I would need multiple shots to get the exposure coverage I needed without excessive noise even at base iso or one step up. I had worked this image many times with various HDR software toolsets, but never really received the output I was looking for. Now that Adobe Lightroom has an excellent HDR tool, I decided to go back and try this shot again. The result was impressive and I found a much better overall image. The big advantage to HDR in LR is that Lightroom leaves that output as an .dng, in essence a raw file. This means you have all the flexibility of a raw file but with the added exposure blend, and you can still use the excellent Lightroom Toolset. I have started going back to a lot of my early Canon photography and working it back in LR and the results have been impressive.
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.
Taken with a Fuji X-E1 18-55 lens @ 18mm and F11 iso 200, image taken in 3 vertical series and converted into 1 horizontal image. I can never get enough of the vista from Sam’s Throne in Searcy County, Arkansas. This spot is surround by red/yellow sandstone bluffs that really will catch the setting sun. In this view, the sun had already dropped below the hills in the distance, however there was still plenty of light available. This day had started out with a cloudy and overcast sky, which as the day wore on, started to open up. By sundown only one large storm was still visible way off in the distance and the light hitting it really made the thunderheads pop. One of the most beautiful things about Sam’s Throne is the way the hills overlap off into the distance. This is the valley of Big Creek which is one of the largest tributaries of the Buffalo National River. The bluffs around Sam’s Throne are a favorite for rock climbers in the state. It’s a great place to spend the day. I took this shot my my camera in the vertical orientation in 3 segments, and then stitched them into 1 image that is in the landscape orientation. This allowed me to have much greater overall resolution.
Taken with a Phase One IQ-180, Schneider 43 Super Digitar lens, F11, iso 100, exposure time 1/30 sec. This was a strange day, as the wind was blowing about 20 to 30 mph and just standing around trying to take the picture was a bit dangerous. Sam’s Throne is a great place to spend a day and or night as there is now a informal maintained campground. Sam’s Throne is the single large hill out in the distance but the entire valley has some wonderful views. I like to try and catch a sunset there working to catch the sun illuminating the throne in the background. This area is frequented by climbers so be prepared to watch some interesting activity on the rocks. The rocks are mainly sandstone and will take on a deep orange yellow color with the sun shining on them. The valley is surrounded by oaks and hickory trees which tend to have great display of fall color.
Taken with a Canon 1ds mkII, Canon 70-300 lens, F11, iso 200, Composite shot taken as a manual exposure bracket. If you get a chance to visit this area you won’t be disappointed by what you find. Flatside is the 3rd in a series of pinnacles that I consider to be the gateway to the Ouachita mountains. In Pulaski County, you have Pinnacle Mountain, then just a bit east from Flatside, there is Northside Pinnacle. These are followed in turn by Flatside and then Forked Mountain. Forked mountain can easily be seen in the distance from the summit of Flatside. Forked Mt. is a considerably harder climb than Flatside but the view from it’s summit is worth the hike. I like to shoot to the west from the summit of Flatside after the sun has dropped below the horizon as you then can pick up the rolling hills out towards the west. I worked this shot up from 5 separate exposures in a classic exposure bracketed series, which was required back when I was shooting with the Canon 1ds series of cameras, now with Nikon’s newer cameras like the D800, I should be able to get the same shot with 2 or 3 frames max due to the extra dynamic range of the Nikon sensors. The trail runs up the back of Flatside mountain and right now there are several large trees down that make the hike take a bit longer. The trail is an easy 1/4 hike from where you park your car.
Taken with a Canon 1ds MKII, iso 100, HDR series 5 frames, Canon 24-70 lens @ F11. Flatside Pinnacle is one of those places that once you make a trip there, you will find yourself going back many times. You can catch a great sunset looking out over the Ouachita mountains, or if you are there early in the morning, the fog will be down in the hills. Flatside is an easy 40 minute drive from Little Rock, west on Hwy 10 towards Lake Sylvia. I took this shot with a Canon 1ds, MKII, in a 5 frame HDR series. The sun had already set and the exposure times were from around 5″ to 20″. The effect I was after was the light playing off the haze in the distance. The colors of the sky that day were amazing. The hike to Flatside will take you near the 150 mile Quachita trail which runs east/west across most of the Arkansas Ouachita mountains and into Oklahoma.