I’ve taken this image out of my office window. Pretty extreme perspective correction has been applied, but I think the result was worth it. There was no way I could have taken this image “in-camera”. At least not without having wings myself 🙂
You may remember my sunrise images from a few days ago, taken with the sun rising behind the mists of lake Faaker See. I’ve tried it again and this time I wanted to use a long lens to capture scenes inside this insanely lit mist.
Well, it didn’t work out as hoped. There was clear sky again, but this time there were not the slightest traces of mist on the water. The long lens that I had mounted was the Olympus 40-150, a slow lens with plastic mount, my cheapest lens, but a good performer for its price.
In the end I used it at the short end, 40 mm, just the same as my superb 12-40/2.8, and when I finally decided to change to a shorter lens, the 17/1.8, I found out that I really love the convenience of the zoom in cold weather. You just keep the fingers in your mittens and keep shooting. Back home I immediately changed back to the 12-40 🙂
We had a pretty sunny week in Carinthia, and morning after morning I was annoyed by my failure to rise early and go down to take a few sunrise images.
One day I managed to get out early enough, only to find a completely blank sky. Isn’t that stupid, I thought? All those days with great morning skies, and then, when finally I’m ready, the sky is not.
So I stood there on a hill, looking over the lake, seeing mists rise from cool water into icy air, and I found the view boring. OK, from somewhere behind the mountains the sun would come out, but I had the feeling that there was not much to be expected.
Of course I could have looked up on my phone where exactly the sun would rise, but because I was in a hurry to get to work, I had not. I did not have much choice regarding my vista anyway. I stood in the one place that was near enough and where I could stop the car. Regardless of where the sun would come out, I’d have to accept it.
When it happened, I was surprised. I had not expected the sun to rise exactly behind the lake and the mist, and of course this made all the difference in the world.
By the way, some of the images that I made were taken at 1/8000 s. The OM-D E-M5 only went to 1/4000 s, so that’s one of the goodies of my new camera.
The Song of the Day is “It’s A Fire” from the 1994 Portishead album “Dummy”. Hear it on YouTube.
Today I woke up at 7:00 am. The weather report predicted rain or snow in the afternoon, but in the morning the sky looked fairly promising. Torn clouds, still some minutes to go for sunrise, I felt this was a good chance to get out early and catch the best light that this day would possibly provide.
It shouldn’t be. What you see in the Image of the Day, that is as good as it got, and even that has been massaged in Lightroom. I tried for almost 45 minutes, but when nothing happened, I gave up and drove to the baker’s for breakfast.
I quickly dressed again, took my gear, drove the car a few hundred meters, stopped to make my first image and … no card in the camera. No problem, I always carry a second card, just for situations like this, but … I couldn’t find it!!!
I gave up once more. The sun already began to vanish behind a veil, I was pretty sure that it would be finally gone as soon as I had fetched the card and returned.
Back home one more time, as soon as I had undressed, lo and behold, the sun! Winter wonderland!!
I decided to not follow the lure, have my breakfast and call it a day. A wise decision, because a few minutes later all the magic was finally gone.
I have labeled this image “HDR”, but technically that is wrong. It is a fusion of three bracketed exposures, aligned and merged with masks in Photoshop. Pretty much effort went into making this as naturally looking as was possible and, frankly, I think it turned out pretty well.
The challenge here is to maintain the blinding brightness of the sun, but without having to sacrifice detail. This is a matter of carefully blending the original exposures and of using localized “Exposure” layers and curves to smooth out the sky. Basically we want brightness to fade out from the sun’s center along something like a Gaussian Bell curve.
HDR tone mapping programs like Photomatix Pro are pretty good at that and I could have gone that route, but as I had also to eliminate some lens flares, I tackled it manually.
Cloning out the flares was challenging as well. They were of course in the central clouds and there was simply no material to clone from. You may know that problem: if you get the right texture and luminosity, the color is off and vice versa.
The solution is, to do it in separate steps. I use a blank, transparent layer in “Luminosity” blending mode and I just clone from parts with the right texture and luminosity. In order to better see what I do, I have a temporary desaturation layer on top, i.e. above the target layer of my cloning operation. This works, because in the “Sample” drop-down menu of the “Clone” tool bar, I always use “Current & Below”. Thus I can use layers above the current layer to amplify aspects of the image, but this amplification is not taken up by the clone brush. When I’m satisfied with smooth textures, I remove the desaturation layer.
At that moment color is completely and irritatingly off. That was the reason for working under a desaturation screen in the first place: colors, especially saturated ones tend to give an impression of changed luminosity.
The final step is a second blank layer, but this time in “Color” blending mode. Here you clone from places with matching color, regardless of luminosity. If you want to, you can even use a light- to mid-gray layer in “Luminosity” mode above as a screen. Doing so you see only colors, no texture. A strong “Saturation” layer may help as well. Put them in a group, and then you can quickly turn the screen on and off.
In pathological cases it would be possible to refine the method further by using separate clone layers in “Hue” and in “Saturation” blending more instead of one in “Color”. Normally it will not be worth the hassle though.
I didn’t take any usable images on Tuesday, so here’s a Wednesday morning image instead. I tried it in DxO Optics Pro and finally settled with Adobe Camera RAW / Topaz Denoise / Photoshop.
It’s a slight improvement over the camera’s JPEG (not much, really), but it was much better than what I could get out of DxO, even after some experiments.
It’s interesting: I’ve spent much time with DxO now, and although I get excellent results with images taken with the D200 or the D300 (comparable to the best I can do in Photoshop), it’s almost always worse than the JPEG for the LX5, regardless of ISO.
The Song of the Day is “Burning Bridge” from Kate Bush’s 1985 album “Hounds of Love”. Hear it on YouTube.
Yesterday was Monday. I took a single image in the morning, this one, and then I went back to bed for half an hour more of sleep. When I woke up again it was drizzling, and although the day ended bright and sunny, I found no more time for photography.
I’m on a workshop in Rust, a picturesque small town at the shores of Neusiedlersee, a big shallow lake in the Austrian province of Burgenland, right on the border to Hungary. This is the morning view from my room. Lots of birds and pretty impressive if you ask me 🙂
I missed the train yesterday night, thus I took the first one in the morning, a pleasure at this time of the year. This image could easily have been “Fast Train III”, because it was taken from the moving train, but without motion blur and with this particular subject, it is clear that it must be part of my Electric Ladyland series.
You may notice that there is no white border. The reason is simple: I like the image well enough to use it as wallpaper, and a wallpaper with a white border is unthinkable 🙂
If you’re interested: here is the original size.
Oh dear, a sunrise! How could I?
But then, why not? Sure, it’s a cliché, with probably only sundowns being worse, but it has happened, it did impress me, and I have the feeling that the image is quite a good representation of what I saw.