2018-11-26: Monochrome Monday

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!

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A cheetah seen on Phinda Game Reserve during a morning game drive.
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A lion resting in the shade in the afternoon heat on Ngala Game Reserve.
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A leopard pausing alongside our vehicle during an afternoon game drive on Londolozi.

2018-11-18: The Night Sky

Mother Nature has certainly not been cooperating with my plans to get out and shoot at night.  While I still have images from Joshua Tree that I would like to work through, I thought I would switch it up this week and edit some old images instead.

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This image was shot at Green Lake in Whistler BC.  I was in the area for a multi-day wedding celebration, and set up my camera to take images to create a star trail while I sat around a fire drinking beer and enjoying the company of good friends.  This was done with my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D5100.  I still think I am pretty lucky that I didn’t tumble into the lake when I went to collect my tripod later in the evening 🙂
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I’ve not kept up to date with it recently, but in the past I have tried checking in with a northern lights forecasting site, and if the forecast is good and the weather clear, I’d head out and with my camera and see if I could see anything.  The lights were very faint on this night, but I think the combination of the faint purple glow and the warm tint to the clouds from highway lights in the distance looks pretty.
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The best evening I have viewed northern lights I saw a proton arc form and dissolve over about a half hour period… all from my driveway.  The milky way appears faintly above as well.
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The proton arc as it was forming.
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A beautiful combination of magenta and green.
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No northern lights in this one, just a starry sky enhanced by some whispy clouds illuminated by the rising moon.

 

2018-11-12: Monochrome Monday

Whilst in Namibia on my last visit, I travelled for a couple of days in the Etosha area.  Being in the park itself is quite different to being on a private reserve, since there is no off-road driving allowed, but there was still a lot of great game viewing when driving around the park.

We were fortunate to come across a group of 3 young lion brothers, likely ejected from their pride within the past few months, as they had gotten to the age where they needed to be on their own.  They still had the energy and playfulness of cubs though, chasing each other around a water hole.  We were even more fortunate to be the only vehicle to being viewing these lions for the majority of the time that we spent with them, allowing us to get in a great position to watch them going about their day.

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2018-11-11: The Night Sky

The weather this week wasn’t conducive to getting out and shooting at night, so I have worked through a few more of my images from Joshua Tree.  When editing, one of the things the workshop instructor mentioned really stuck with me, and that is to really watch the saturation of star images.  I really tried to keep things as natural as possible, although it can be fun to crank things up to 11 and see what happens 🙂  Maybe next week.

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Planes overhead and lots of traffic heading for the park gates after the sun went down.
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The milky way rising over the Joshua trees.
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What are your thoughts on night sky images in black and white?  I really like them personally, although there is a real risk of the image being way too dark.

While I was shooting with my main camera, I had set up my Panasonic camera on the hood of my car with a gorilla pod, and set it to take a series of images to make into a time lapse later.   It didn’t turn out quite as planned, but I’ve included it here as it shows all the traffic from the parking lot, as well as other photographers.   Since I was doing a time-lapse series, I didn’t have the long exposure noise reduction turned on, and I think the still images from the Panasonic really would have benefitted from having that done in camera.

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This was the last shot I captured while my camera was set in time lapse mode.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

2018-11-05: Monochrome Monday

For this week I worked on a few images from my time in California.   Compared to my trips to Africa, I took relatively few photos, but I have a good number that I am interested in playing around with to see what happens.

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I spent a lot of time outside relaxing with my camera nearby in case any interesting birds popped into the yard, but found myself also being drawn to the beautiful shapes of the palm fronds.

One of the things I picked up while away was an infrared filter for my camera, and I took it out and started playing around in Joshua Tree when my photo workshop was over.  I have so much to learn about all the nuances of infrared photography, but even without doing the proper things, like setting a custom white balance, I am still happy with what I was able to come up with when converting the images to black and white.

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I wish I would have written down which of the stops through the park this was; I was drawn to the wonderful boulders and all the desert plants and cacti that surrounded them.

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2018-04-04: The Night Sky

I decided on the topic of the night sky for November, mostly because I spent an evening during my holiday at Joshua Tree National Park at a night sky photography workshop, and I have images I want to work through.  Also, November may have some potential for night sky photos at home (since it isn’t too bitterly cold yet, and night is falling quite early, which is good for an early bird like me).

Just getting to the workshop proved to be quite an adventure.  The night before, a rare thunderstorm rolled through the desert with heavy rain, and there were a lot of road closures due to small local mudslides.  In the town of Joshua Tree, the main highway through town had over 6 feet of mud (and a buried Mini Cooper car) in the middle of the highway.  When setting off in the morning, I headed toward the Cottonwood gate, planning to head up to the Oasis visitors centre through the park, but that gate turned out to be closed (and would remain so for several days to get everything cleaned up). Then there was a substantial backtrack to get back on the interstate and head to the other gate in Twentynine Palms, but through there I encountered more detours and terrible road conditions.  I made it there in the end, albeit rather late and after the class had already started.

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I headed back Sunday morning for the second part of the workshop, by then the main highway through the town of Joshua Tree had reopened.  These are just some of the huge piles of mud that had been plowed along the side of the road.

Despite the crazy weather the night before, and threats of potential storms during the day of the workshop, the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful, with clear skies and just a few wispy clouds leftover.  Besides the driving conditions to get to the park, the other downside to the weather was as the evening cooled, there was a lot of moisture still in the air, causing dew to form.  I wasn’t worried about my camera (some of the people that were local, and not used to the moisture that I am, were quite alarmed) but it did mean that images started to appear soft and fuzzy later in the evening.  Everyone packed up by about 9:30, because by that point it became impossible to get any clear images.  Looking through my images, I can see a definite deterioration in sharpness as the evening draws on, but I still like the images from later in the evening, despite the softness.

Here are a few of the shots I have edited so far.  I haven’t broken the habit of working in multiple editors, so I have images done in all of my programs.

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We were set up in a day-use only part of the park, so there were a lot of people packing up to leave as we were setting up and taking images.  The headlights and taillights of the vehicles provided some light painting on the foreground (though not always hitting all the areas I would have liked!)  Edited in On1 Photo Raw.
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A joshua tree illuminated by car headlights, edited in Luminar.
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People moving to and fro with headlamps and flashlights.  Image edited with Topaz Studio.
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The last image I took in the evening, with the milky way faintly decorating the sky and a plane moving through the scene.