Monthly Archives: September 2008

Last Light

Last Light

Last Light, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

After the sunset light often lingers. For example, in late February, long after nominal sunset Horsetail Falls in Yosemite lights up.

As this photo from Pirate’s Cove shows, the last light is often the best light: dreamy, otherwordly, mysterious, and evocative.

[Nikon D300, 18-200VR zoom lens at 120mm (180mm in 35mm terms), 93 seconds at f/14 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Dusk at Pirate’s Cove

Dusk at Pirate's Cove

Dusk at Pirate’s Cove, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

On Saturday I went with a few friends from the Bay Area Photography & Exploration Society to photograph Pirate’s Cove in the Marin Headalnds. The idea was to photograph star trails, and I even schlepped a second camera body and tripod so I could multitask by taking automated exposures for stacking in Photoshop.

As is often the case, the weather didn’t cooperate, and dense, low-lying fog came in at dusk. I took the captures in this image shortly before we packed it in and headed up through the clouds.

Marin County lacks eating establishments that stay open late. As has happened before when I’ve gone shooting at night, we ended up at the all-night Denny’s in Corte Madera. Good company, but hardly gourmet dining.

[Nikon D300, 18-200 VR zoom lens at 20mm (30mm in 35mm terms), six exposures combined in Photoshop at shutter speeds between 8 seconds and two minutes, all exposures at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Simple Anemone

Simple Anemone

Simple Anemone, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: this flower is a simple and small anemone from our garden, photographed using a daylight-balanced white box.

More anemone images: Anemone Japonica, White Anemone.

[Nikon D300, Zeiss Macro 100mm f/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* Manual Focus Lens, three exposures combined in Photoshop from 0.5 of a second to 2.5 seconds at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Nurse Ashlee Visits Katie Rose

Nurse Ashley Visits Katie Rose

Nurse Ashley Visits Katie Rose, photo by Harold Davis.

We had a nice visit this week from Ashlee, a NICU nurse who was there when Katie was born, and who helped take care of Katie in the NICU. This photo shows Ashlee holding Katie Rose in our living room.

Katie Rose in Chiaroscuro

Katie Rose in Chiaroscuro

Katie Rose in Chiaroscuro, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Katie Rose was sleeping upstairs. The room was dark, except for a low-watt lamp that illuminated part of her face. I shot this handheld, high ISO (ISO 1,600) photo in low light conditions to take advantage of the wonderful chiaroscuro light (not to mention the angelic baby).

Chiaroscuro refers to a lighting situation in which there is an extreme contrast between light and dark areas.

In Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), I made several passes on the RAW file to exaggerate the chiaroscuro effect. I combined these different exposures from the same RAW file in Photoshop as layers.

It would have been pretty easy to process the noise out of this high ISO image. In fact, I made no effort to process the noise inherent in the photo. Instead, I converted the noise to simuated film grain using the NIK filter set. Next, I partially converted the image to black and white, using two Photoshop black and white adjustment layers, one set to maximum white and the other to maximum black. The point of the multiple black and white adjustment layers was to partially desaturate parts of the photo while continuing the chiaroscuro.

[Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR zoom lens (with image stabilization engaged) at 105mm (157.5mm in 35mm terms), 1/25 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 1600.]

Gaillardia Gone to Seed

Gaillardia Gone to Seed

Gaillardia Gone to Seed, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a flatbed scan of the seed pods of Gaillardia. (You can see one of these pods in the foreground of this photo.) I used an Epson 9660 scanner set to the highest possible resolution that the scanner would actually do the scan, and imported the results directly into Photoshop.

I left the scanner lid open. The background is black velvet cloth jury-rigged over the three-dimensional pods with tape and sticks.

Some other flatbed scans: Iris Scans; My Brilliant Butterfly; Nautilus on Black.



Curvature, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: A brisk, cold wind blew as the sun set over the Pacific. Mark and I were perched on the edge of a crumbling cliff. As the light of sunset burnished the Pacific edge of Point Reyes, I hurried to make a few exposures, hoping the wind wouldn’t blow over my tripod, or blow me over the cliff (Mark’s tripod did get blown over).

[Nikon D300, 18-200 VR zomm lens at 18mm (27mm in 35mm terms), circular polarizer, 1/4 of a second at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Between Earth and Sky

Between Earth and Sky

Between Earth and Sky, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

On our way home from a sunset-to-night hike on the Tomales Point fork of Point Reyes, Mark and I stopped at the wreck of the Point Reyes fishing trawler. Many people like to photograph this trawler, which is easily accessible outside of Inverness, California.

The week before, at my Point Reyes night photography workshop, I’d been stymied in my idea of stacking photos to produce circular star trails (stymied because it was cloudy). But this time it was clear. The stars were bright, although a little less than on Tomales Point, probably because of the ambient light pollution.

I pointed the camera north, and used a digital fisheye lens to maximize the celestial rotation of the star trails.

First I tested the light with a one minute exposure at ISO 800 at f/3.5. Then I made an eight minute ISO 100 exposure (with in-camera long exposure noise reduction enabled) for the foreground. This image in its entirety is found below (I think it is interesting in its own right, with the still stars at the center and circular star trails around the edges).

Next, I turned noise reduction off, and programmed my Nikon MC-36 remote for twenty exposures, each capture at four minutes, ISO 100, and f/5.6.

It was damp and a bit chilly in the dark, and for a while Mark and I left my camera on autopilot and sat some distance away in my car, listening to the superb and eerie music of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. After twelve exposures (about 48 minutes) our patience wore out and weariness won. Mark had a plane to catch in the morning for a business meeting, and I’ve been going on fumes since Katie Rose was born. I stopped the automated exposure process, and packed it in.

This morning, I combined the thirteen images in Photoshop using the Statistics script, choosing Maximum as the method for combination. An airplane trail in one of the captures made it into the stack, and I decided to keep this apparent visual anomaly. Finally, I layered in the longer exposure for the detail in the foreground and boat.

[Above: Thirteen captures, all captures Nikon D300, 10.5mm digital fisheye, tripod mounted; one capture 8 minutes at f/3.5 and ISO 100; twelve captures 4 minutes at f/5.6 and ISO 100; star trails created by statistical stacking of 13 exposures; foreground created by layer with the 8 minute exposure using a gradient and layer mask. Below: Nikon D300, 10.5mm digital fisheye, 8 minutes at f/3.5 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Point Reyes Trawler at Eight

View this image larger.

Door Knob

Door Knob

Door Knob, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: I gave Julian a lesson in macro photography, and for practice I showed him how to photograph this door knob.

[Nikon D300, 105mm f/2.8 macro, 25 seconds at f/40 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Gaillardia Caucus

Gaillardia Caucus

Gaillardia Caucus, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Yesterday was the first rain of the season, a light mist that made the garden wet and saturated colors under a bright, but cloudy, sky. When I went out to photograph I was struck how my clump of Gaillardia in the side yard had proliferated. It’s hard not to love Gaillardia, and worth bearing mind that it is a native. Here’s a solo Gaillardia x grandiflora.

[Nikon D300, 200mm f/4 macro, 5 seconds at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]



Milkweed, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: I found these grounded milkweed seeds along the Hidden Valley Trail near Limantour on Point Reyes.

[Nikon D300, 105mm f/2.8 macro (157.5mm in 35mm terms), three combined captures with different exposure times (1/4 of a second, 1/2 a second, and 1 second), all captures at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Related image: Fancy Feathers.

Foggy Sea

Foggy Sea

Foggy Sea, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

What happens when you point a camera out to sea in the fog in an almost pitch-black night?

Taken at Limantour Beach during my recent Point Reyes night photography workshop.

[Nikon D300, 18-200VR zoom lens at 18mm (27mm in 35mm terms), 241 seconds at f/3.5 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]



Chins, photo by Harold Davis.

At the pediatrician yesterday, Katie Rose weighed in at nine pounds and seven ounces. This is up a pound since her last visit two weeks ago. Katie Rose is gaining roughly an ounce a day. She is definitely a chunk, amazing considering that she started out so tiny.

Stars and Milky Way

Stars and Milky Way

Stars and Milky Way, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: This is a nine and one half minute exposure from the top of Half Dome looking southwest across Yosemite Park, taken in June 2007. When I was there the Milky Way, shown in this photo as a pleasing blur, was crisp and sharp, but the time exposure and the motion of the heavens rendered it soft focus. The orange light is from the west and is ambient light from the cities of California’s central valley (probably mostly Fresno).

I used this previously unprocessed photo as a demo of RAW conversion the first night of my recent workshop.

[Nikon D200, 12-24mm zoom lens at 12mm (18mm in 35mm terms), 970 seconds at f/4 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Point Reyes Night Photography Workshop

Point Reyes Trawler

Point Reyes Trawler, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Even though thick fog blanketed the night skies, I think the night photography workshop I taught this past weekend on Point Reyes was a success. The weather, of course, is not a tame lion—and I was amazed at the creative responses to the weather conditions, the talent of the workshop participants, and that no two photographers came up with the same image, even when photographing in near proximity. What a great group of people!

On Saturday evening we went to photograph the Point Reyes trawler behind the Inverness general store. I was hoping for another shot of the star trails around Polaris by pointing my camera directly at due north behind the boat (this time I would have tried statistical stacking as in Night Vortex). But obviously the cloud cover ruled out star trails.

David, who helped us experiment with light painting at a previous night photo workshop, crawled onto the trawler. The assembled photographers shouted directions and encouragements as he light painted the interior of the boat cabin.

Next day, I was pleased and surprised at the level of interest in post-processing these photos. I used this image as a case study. The original RAW file was dark with a left-side histogram that indicated underexposure. A common reponse: “You got this image from…that!” Of course, to see the original and the way I processed it, you needed to be at the workshop.

[Nikon D300, 12-24mm zoom lens at 12mm (18mm in 35mm terms), 100 seconds at f/5.6 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]