Feb 17, 2013

Camp Peak, ID

I like it. I'd live there and make pictures everyday. It's the kind of region where everywhere you go there's an interesting bit of light falling across a hill side. Seems like every time I drive by, whatever season, it's in the afternoon and I always want to stop and make a picture. You gotta drive Idaho State Road 34 to Jackson Hole some afternoon.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I was driving by with Scot Weaver and we did stop and make a picture. Think they'd support me as an artist in residence? There's that magazine, Arizona Highways; I reckon we need one for images made up here. Click on the image to view it full screen.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @28mm, f/8, 1/320-1/20s 5 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
What struck me about this picture was the light in the foreground coming from a different direction than the light in the background. In the front you can see the the light is from camera right, whereas the clouds and mountain in the back have the sun shining on them from camera left. The light in front is actually the sun reflecting off an enormous cloud on the right and shining on the ground in front of me. It's big and soft and it was really wonderful to see. The scene was gentle and serene. 

You may need to see the print to appreciate the light changes.

That's why I chose to use an HDR process. I made 5 pictures at different shutter speeds to ensure that I recorded the full range of light in the scene. That means that everything from the brightest part of the clouds to the dark side of the out buildings has detail visible. I think that's cool, and it let's me capture the gentle gradients of light in the scene. I really think Nik software's HDR Efex Pro 2 is the top tool to do this with.

There's an excellent new book on these techniques by my friends and mentors, Scott Bourne and Rich Harrington, and I'd recommend studying from it so that you're able to maximize your wonderful digital camera. Click here to get it on iTunes.

Here's the color version, too...

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @28mm, f/8, 1/320-1/20s 5 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
Last note. The day before we took this trip to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park...I sold my tripod. Bad move! How was I supposed to steady my camera? Pictures like this one are not possible to make super sharp on my D800 (36 mega pixels) without a tripod. Fortunately, I have a Joby GorillaPod. I've owned for a couple of years and never used it. Well, I really put it through its paces this trip. The picture below of the nightscape was also made using it. I was impressed that it was able to hold steady my heavy camera and even my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens steady--that's 4 1/4 pounds of camera! Not too shabby. I did have a small Manfrotto ball head, not the one made by Joby, so I can't speak to it's quality, but the legs were surprisingly good. Both pictures were made with the Gorillapod wrapped on a fence post...and me up to my thighs in a snow drift.

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