Alpenglow on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
(click for larger version)
6 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 144mm
When I spend time shooting I will normally take a quick overview of the days results immediately. There are often a few shots that will stand out – and those are often processed and sometimes show up here on the blog right away. I have learned that taking a long step back from a series of new photos can be beneficial to me in terms of my objectivity in culling the weaker shots. If I were to go through all the shots immediately I still carry my mental image of what I had planned for a photo. Not everything I try works out of course, and sometimes my initial expectations turn out to be too high. Sorting and processing images a month or two later gives me a lot better perspective of what is a “good” shot or a bad one – as many of my initial expectations have settled down. This has generally worked out so far – and I think I am better at choosing strong images than I used to be in part because of it.
I recently had an experience where the month+ delay in processing a panorama didn’t really seem to help. I processed and stitched this panorama 3-4 times – never quite happy with the colour of the sky. Things got to the point where I was no long able to view the photo at all objectively.
For this particular panorama I stood in the snow next to Chilliwack Lake for over an hour, freezing, taking the odd shot but waiting for the right light. When it came – I shot about 3 panoramas (and many single shots) with a few different compositions. I like the composition of this one the best. The colour of the sky seemed quite purple compared to what my brain was telling me looked “natural”. This could be a case of over analysis – but I try to process images such that they are faithful to what I saw at the time. So I processed the 6 shots that make up this image again in Camera Raw with some PS adjustments to account for the colour. Then I did this again. Still not happy I put the image away for a few more weeks. I should note the purple color is present in the raw file – not as a result of some other colour processing I have done.
Now that I have picked up this panorama again, I am still not sure if this looks natural. I like the colour on the mountain peaks, this is how it looked when I was there – but the sky still bothers me. I have stared at it so long I no longer remember what it looked like in person – perhaps that is the downside in waiting to do post processing? Maybe I just have to drop an image for longer or toss it entirely? I again processed an alternate panorama – taken about 7 minutes before the one posted above – and the sky looks bland and the clouds undefined – the whole image is uninspiring.
So what is the good thing about all this?
During this process I learned a few more Photoshop techniques that I otherwise would not have. Tweaking sky colours using Selective Color in Photoshop, for example. Next time I have a sky colour problem as a result of changing colour temperature etc – I know how to fix it. I have also learned that sometimes I might need to move on from processing an image that just isn’t right – or leave it behind entirely.
7 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 200mm
Panorama of the North Vancouver Sulphur Works from Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC.
I have always liked the view of the North Vancouver Sulphur Works from Stanley Park – especially at night. Always reminds me of a roller coaster that just dumps passengers into Burrard Inlet. I have an earlier panorama from this location in Stanley Park but it is not nearly as clear – owing to my old shaky tripod and lack of techniques such as a shutter release and mirror lockup.
Not my usual sort of shot I realize – but I think I like it.
I recently revisited some logging roads in the Chilliwack River Valley I had explored for the first time in in february. The Fraser Valley had seen some fresh snow, and I had several spots along the Chilliwack River that I had marked with the GPS as good potential photo spots for the future. While I was waiting for a snowfall with decent post-storm weather, I had not really thought this all the way through. There was a LOT of snow on the logging road, and thankfully some trucks had flattened a lot of it down so I could drive my Nissan Sentra up the road a ways. I stopped short of hitting a lot of the marked spots as the road was still fairly dicey in such a small car – even with my snow tires. I am starting to think there might be a better off-roading vehicle than a Nissan Sentra. When I came to the river I parked myself there for about an hour. It was about -10°C (14°F) with a windchill estimated at about -20°C (-4°F) – much colder conditions that I usually shoot in.
After I had exhausted the possibilities at that location – I headed back to Chilliwack lake to see what the conditions might be there. My previous post shows the great alpenglow on the mountains that evening.
This is something I have learned the hard way. While I am not going to bring the SLR when I go to the grocery store, I have learned to bring it with me if there even a decent chance of finding something interesting to photograph. There have been many times when I have found something interesting – and every time this happens my camera has done me little good sitting in its bag back home. This can be a bitter pill to swallow when one comes across something spectacular.
A few days ago I accompanied a friend on a journey to Washington State to buy a new vehicle. I debated whether I should bring the camera bag or not. It was quite likely that I would not have time to shoot anything – and also quite likely I would see nothing to shoot. I’ve had this debate before – and opted to not bring my equipment with me. Frequently this has worked out just fine, but other times I have missed great opportunities by leaving my equipment at home. So this time I brought it all with me.
Glad I did!
We stopped for a quick break along SR20 in San de Fuca which is just outside of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Walked down to the shore and there was a small flock of Dunlin (Calidris alpina) foraging along the shore. A quick dash back to the car and I began stalking them along the shore. Not very skittish at all, but they did move along the shore away from me when I approached. I had to hide behind old timbers of a dock to get as close as possible. Normally it is much better to sit and wait for a group like this to wander back towards you, but they did not seem alarmed by my presence and I had no time to camp out. Dunlin spend their time here on the coasts of Washington State and British Columbia in the winter – fattening themselves up before a migration to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska and along the shores of Hudson Bay.
About a month ago I was on the seawall in Stanley Park taking some shots of downtown Vancouver at night. Last time I attempted this my relatively cheap tripod was not up to the task of holding my camera steady (in portrait position) for 30 seconds at a time. The result was some decent shots, but others had a 30 second long vertical light streak through them due to tripod malfunction. Did I mention how much I like my Gitzo tripod?
I had not expected that I was to be stalking any sort of birds at night. Thankfully though it was a Great Blue Heron ((Ardea herodias) which luckily tend to stand still for lengthy periods of time (or until you trigger the shutter). I guess this lulls the prey into a sense of complacency, at least temporarily. This is probably one of the few species that I would be able to find at night and that would stand still long enough for me to get a clear shot with shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That being said, this is one of the few clear shots of the 40 that I took. I like it – not my usual sort of photograph.
Recently the mountains of the Fraser Valley had a good snowfall so I headed out there to see what I could photograph. I parked myself next to the Chilliwack River for an hour or so and having failed to entirely freeze at that location I moved once again on towards Chilliwack Lake.
I had to park outside of the gates again as Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park is closed this time of year. The walk in was much uglier than last time – no tire treads to walk in on. I followed some tracks left by a (much smarter and prepared) person with snowshoes. As I took each uneven, slippery step I vowed to never do this again wearing only trail running shoes and jeans in a cold -10°C (14°F) with a windchill estimated at about -20°C (-4°F). A good parka and toque don’t really make up for freezing the lower half of ones body. So despite freezing and stumbling I did manage to get there in time to catch some of the last light on Mount Redoubt/Nodoubt Peak. A more interesting shot than last time – with clouds swirling around the peaks and a great alpenglow.