Another Starry Night

Starry Night 3

Starry Night 3, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: This is another fisheye starry night stacked photo from Glacier Point. This one consists of 12 captures at four minutes and ISO 100 and f/3.2, and one high ISO capture at four minutes and ISO 800 and f/4. The bright purple comes from sensor flaring in the higher ISO capture in the stack. I intentionally left the foreground dark (the way it looks in the individual exposures) rather than trying to blend in a brighter foreground (as in the previous versions).

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Yosemite Morning

Yosemite Morning

Yosemite Morning, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Coming down from a night spent photographing star trails on Glacier Point, I hit the Valley floor about 6AM. I tucked into my sleeping bag, inserted the ear plugs, and slept for a solid hour or so. At about 7AM a deep rumbling noise penetrated the ear plugs and woke me. It was followed by sirens (what’s this, bears dancing on cars setting off their alarms?) and then helicopters.

Sleep fled, and I pulled myself out to see what was going on. A big rock ledge had fallen off Glacier Point into the valley, and right into Curry Village. (Here’s the story. Very frightening if you were staying at Curry, but luckily no one was badly hurt, and the place has largely reopened.)

In the meantime, the Merced River beckoned in the morning light (you can see some of dust from the rock slide in the background of this photo).

To create this image I groggily shot six exposures, at times between 1/13 of a second and a full second. My initial plan was to process these together as an HDR image, using the Photoshop HDR automation. So I converted all six from the RAW using one ACR settings file, and then opening the six files using Merge to HDR. The results looked like garbage, Photoshop didn’t really know which areas to include from which exposure. Next, I tried merging to HDR using the pre-converted RAW files, with more-or-less the same ugly results.

So, it was back to hand combining the six captures using ACR setting variations, layer masking, gradients, and the Paintbrush tool. Computers are great, but sometimes automation sucks, and there’s nothing like doing it by hand.

Related story: Multi-RAW Processing versus Automated HDR.

[Nikon D300, 12-24mm Zoom lens at 12mm (18mm in 35mm terms), 1/13 of a second, 1/10 of a second 1/4 of a second, 1/2 of a second, and one second, all exposures at ISO 100 and f/22, exposures hand combined in Photoshop, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Starry Night

Starry Night

Starry Night, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger

Many of my night photos are created in homage to Vincent van Gogh, who wrote in a letter to his brother Theo, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The star swirl in this image seems particularly van Gogh, so I thought I’d name this one Starry Night, after one of his most famous works.

This photo was taken from Glacier Point in the middle of the night after the moon had set (you can compare the version from the same spot lit partially by the moon).

I made 14 captures using an automated timer, all with my Nikon D200 and 10.5mm digital fisheye at ISO 100 (of course, using a tripod). The first, and longest, exposure was at 8 minutes and f/2.8. The remaining exposures were at 4 minutes and f/4 (to capture the star trails). I then stacked the captures in Photoshop CS3 Extended using the Statistic script set to Maximum mode.

I found that the result included some unfortunate light flaring, as well as some purple sensor burning. So I went back through the 13 four minute captures carefully, and found one with both the flaring and some unintentional foreground light painting. I must have been looking at my other camera with my headlamp on, and lit some of the area of this image by mistake. I fixed the problem by removing the offending capture and restacking the images.

But there were a few areas of the capture that I’d removed that enhanced the image. So I laid it on top of the stacked version, and used a layer mask and paintbrush to paint in these areas.

I also needed to lighten up the foreground. So I reprocessed the eight minute exposure with this in mind, and layered it on top of the other layers, using a gradient to bring out foreground detail.

After this, it was my normal workflow.

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

San Francisco from the Sea

San Francisco from the Sea

San Francisco from the Sea, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a night view across the outer opening of the Golden Gate towards the lights of the Pacific face of San Francisco: the Outer Sunset District and maybe a bit of Daly City and Pacifica. The photo was taken in the Marin Headlands on the heights above Tennessee Beach.

Looking at the bright flare of light from the city on the left versus the dark night filled with stars on the right I’m struck by how much light pollution we create, even in fairly remote places (to see what I mean, check out this image of Yosemite at night from Half Dome). In this connection, I’m encouraged by a recent movement intended to help the stars take back the night.

[Nikon D300, 10.5mm digital fisheye, 321 seconds (about six minutes) at f/4 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Digital Night, Photography, San Francisco Area

Katie Does Brunch

Katie Does Brunch

Katie Does Brunch, photo by Harold Davis. View this photo larger.

This photo shows Katie Rose being fed by her nurse. Katie gets all her food from milk that Phyllis pumps.

Katie’s brunch milk is shown in the little beaker in the nurse’s hand in this photo. You can see the tube, sometimes called a gavage tube, that feeds the milk directly into her stomach.

Katie is now getting 13 ML (milliliters) every two hours. This is a couple of teaspoons.

When we visited Katie in the NICU today, we were pleased to see the first hint of a future fleshing out. You can see within her the pudgy baby that if things continue to go well she will one day become.

Posted in Katie Rose, Kids, Photography

Imperfect Rose

This is an imperfect rose. Like all living things, it comes with imperfections as part of the package. Still, when I saw this imperfect rose glowing in the sunshine in my garden, with the single small water drop in its center, I felt the rose was perfect. And I had to photograph it.

Posted in Flowers, Photography