Lynn and I returned from visiting MK, Mike, Sara, and Cal last Sunday. It was easy to spot exuberant signs of Spring on our route. Today I thought I’d share some photos of pretty blossoms we saw along the way.
Up in Wisconsin, apple trees are blooming:
Apple Blossom Time
And the bees are busy:
I think this is a variety of pear tree. They’re busy blooming too:
Pear tree blossoms
At a rest stop in Kentucky, these Poppies were showing up on schedule just before Memorial Day:
In Tennessee, MK’s cactus garden is flowering and looks pretty as a picture in the early morning light:
And Black-Eyed Susans in Georgia didn’t want to be left out:
Most of these photos were made with iPhones and I’m very happy with how they turned out. Isn’t it handy to have such a good camera in your pocket? If you want to try a quiz, see if you can spot which ones weren’t made with phones.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. Enjoy Spring, and if you can, make some photos!
I have a lot of (too many?) images in my Lightroom Catalog. I like to look through them sometimes. It brings back memories of people and places I haven’t seen for a while. It’s easy to lose track of time doing this. And if I run across a promising image that I’ve never processed or published before, I can end up spending even more time “stuck in the archives”.
There’s a bit of water / mud in the riverbed, left over from a rain storm several days earlier. And there’s a group of hikers on a ridge on the right hand side. If you’re viewing this on the web, you’ll be able to see the header image, which is a small crop showing the hikers.
Late afternoon at Zabriskie Point (75mm, f/8 @ 1/80s, ISO 100).
When I went through my photos after the trip, I passed over this one. The sun’s position just out of the frame on the top made the light very harsh. The RAW image was washed out, the riverbed was over exposed, and the terrain was a bit underexposed. There were also a few ugly lens flare spots through the middle of the frame. I can see why I didn’t bother with it back then.
Anyway, I decided to try and process it and spent some time applying various quantities of modern software magic to it. I like the result and I think it was worth getting stuck in the archives for this photo. I’m really glad I saved the file!
The sun was nicely positioned behind this rock formation but it made the light extremely harsh. I used a four frame exposure bracket to try to capture the dynamic range in the scene. When I got home I worked on the image but could never get a color version I liked. I ended up converting it to monochrome for this blog post.
Anyway, I saw it while browsing through my Lightroom catalog and decided to try again. I started from the RAW source files and used the experience I’ve gained since then along with the capability we now have available in recent software. This was the result:
A red rock spire in front of the sun and cloudless sky
Lightroom’s enhanced detail RAW conversion, merge to HDR, and sky selection masks were especially handy along with the better adjustments available with Adobe’s latest process version software. I also ran it through Topaz AI sharpen as a final step.
I like this 2022 version better than the 2009 one. Once again, I’m glad I save my RAW source files. Back then, it would have been hard to imagine the software we have today. Do you have any older images that you’re not completely happy with? Maybe it’s a good time to dig them out and try again with new software.
Also: Happy Fathers Day to every dad out there! There’s nothing as precious as your love, as important as your advice and support, and as educational as the examples you set.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – when you make photos, save your RAW files!
I’ve been interested in infrared photography for a long time. I first attempted it sometime in the 1980s using black and white IR film. The results weren’t very good. Focus and exposure using IR film was a challenge back in ancient times.
One of my first digital cameras was a Minolta DiMage 7Hi and in 2003 I tried again with an IR filter on the lens of the unmodified camera. The dense filter required long exposures on a tripod even in daylight. I hadn’t mastered RAW file processing and was using jpg format which didn’t help. But results were better than 1980s film!
In 2011 I started researching IR modified cameras and ended up sending my Olympus E-PL1 off to have its IR blocking filter replaced with one that passed IR light and blocked normal visible light. That was a big step forward. Focusing just worked and exposures were similar to those on an unmodified camera. I made the image below from a small boat and it would’ve been very difficult with a dense filter and 4 second exposure!
2012: Blue Cypress Lake, Fellsmere FL – IR modified Olympus E-PL1, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 100
In 2013, I traded up to an IR modified Olympus E-PL5 to take advantage of the lower noise and additional resolution.
2014: A calm day on Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine – IR modified Olympus E-PL5, 1/200 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 200
Then in 2017 I bought a second hand IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII and sold the E-PL5. The E-M5 MII was a bit better and had a hi-res mode which I used frequently.
2019: Wetlands view, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII, 1/1600 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 200
In late 2021, I decided to sell the E-M5 MII. I hadn’t been using it much. Packing the extra camera, lenses, batteries, chargers, etc. was a hassle. And remembering how to use another camera system isn’t easy when you don’t use it very often. Now, if I want to do any B&W photography I have to use one of my non-IR cameras.
2022: Along the shore, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – unmodified Fuji X100V, 1/140 sec @ f/8 ISO 160
It has been a long journey with infrared. Am I done with it? It seems so, but who knows? Not me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos – you’ll cherish the memories!
Lynn and I wanted another print for our walls and we both liked a photo of the Bass Harbor Head Light Station that I made on a trip to Acadia National Park back in August of 2014. Looking at the file in Lightroom, I wasn’t happy with the colors, and the resolution wasn’t quite enough for the size print that we wanted. I dug out the original RAW image file and reprocessed it with my current software and techniques. Here’s a comparison slider showing the full image (before is on the left):
In Lightroom, I used their recently added “enhance” capability to improve RAW details and upsize. I also did basic adjustments including a slightly larger crop, white balance, and exposure. Then I opened it in Photoshop for final edits – which included texture / clarity tweaks and a pass through the Topaz Sharpen AI filter.
Here’s a small crop showing detail down by the water:
Software has improved a lot since 2014. I’m glad I saved the RAW file in my archives. We’ve already made the print and it looks good up on the wall.
Here’s one more post to finish up with photos from our road trip. These are all from time we spent at and near the new Central Florida Photo Ops field office in Nashville, Tennessee.
I’d never heard of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park before MK took us there. It was originally built for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897 to celebrate Nashville’s nickname: “Athens of the South”.
Nashville Parthenon (iPhone)
The original structure was meant to be temporary. Nashvillians liked it so much that they didn’t want to tear it down – so they kept patching and repairing it until 1920 when the city decided to rebuild it with permanent materials. In 1982, work started on the statue of Athena which was completed in 1990, making this an exact size and detail replica of the original temple in Athens, Greece – both inside and out.
The surrounding Centennial Park grounds are beautiful too with many things in bloom while we were there.
Centennial Park flowers, by the Nashville Parthenon (Thanks for this idea MK!)
The next photo is a multi-frame, stitched panorama I made of Nickajack Reservoir on the Tennesee River. It was another one of the very pleasant scenic surprises we encountered at highway rest stops on our journey. This one was along I-24 near Jasper Tennessee.
A peaceful pause
Natchez Trace is a historic forest trail extending about 440 miles from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. It was created and used by Native Americans for centuries. European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants also used it in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic highway running along the route of the original trail. It was built starting in the 1930s and the final sections were completed in 2005.
Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, as seen from a nearby overlook on the north side.
There are many historic sites along the parkway and sections of the original foot trail are still visible. I’m hoping to explore some of these next time.
The header image is also of the Natchez Trace Parkway, from the base of the bridge by the National Park Service sign.
The Stones River photos in my Memorial Day post from a few weeks ago are from Tennessee too.
We enjoyed our first visit to the area and are looking forward visiting again. Next week though, I’ll try to get back to some Central Florida Photo Ops! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!
We had such a wonderful visit with Sara, Mike, and Calvin last month. It’d been way too long since we’d been together and absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder! Anyway, here are three places we visited while we were up there.
Door County is a scenic peninsula north-east of Green Bay. We’ve been there several times and always enjoy it. This time we were hoping to see some cherry blossoms so we stopped by Lautenbach’s Orchard in Fish Creek.
In the Lautenbach barnyard
There were some lovely flowers on the trees:
But we were there a week or two too early to see the orchard at it best.
The area also has many delicious places to eat. We sampled beignets, Ice Cream, smoked fish and other treats. None of us were the least bit hungry when we got home!
Sara mentioned Fonferek Glen so Lynn and I decided to drive up and look around. It’s a 74 acre county park along Bower Creek near Green Bay. There’s a 30 foot waterfall and cliffs along the creek with a natural stone archway.
If you visit, be a bit cautious. Lynn and I weren’t prepared for the bitting bugs we ran into, and crossing the water and hiking down / up to the base of the falls (with no marked trails) was a little more exciting than hikes I’m used to in Florida.
The water flow does slow down during the summer. The day we were there it wasn’t a torrent, but the falls are still very pretty:
He’s a little hard to see at this resolution, but if you click this photo to view it on Flickr, you can spot one of the two landscape artists that were there that day painting the scene. I wonder if I ended up in his painting like he ended up in my photo?
Calvin has a family membership to the New Zoo near Green Bay and he took us all there one morning. The peacock photo I posted a couple of weeks ago is from that visit. Here are three more from that day.
This owl was inside behind glass in mixed, very poor light. But I like the focus on his eye and was able to rescue the image with a conversion to B&W.
An owl at the zoo
This waterfall at the zoo has a pretty good flow – the pump driving it works well!
A waterfall at the zoo
And it wasn’t just cherries in bloom up there. Many other trees were in full flower and gorgeous.
We’re so thankful that the pandemic is finally starting to fade so that we can travel again. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And get vaccinated and enjoy visiting family again!
Header image: Birds in flight in Gills Rock, WI – with an iPhone!
The Civil War Battle of Stones River was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863. There were 24,645 casualties in the battle (12,906 Union and 11,739 Confederate). That’s 31.4% of all troops and the highest percentage of casualties of any major battle in the Civil War.
Fields of fire
Tactically it was inconclusive, but strategically it was very important to the Union. The Confederate threat to Kentucky and Middle Tennessee was neutralized, and the Cumberland River wharfs and Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad were secured as major Union supply routes for the rest of the war. After the battle, Abraham Lincoln wrote to General Rosecrans saying: “You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how divided we are in the US – and I suppose we are. But we all must search for common ground and strive to overcome our differences so that as Lincoln also said: the “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
This last photo (and the header image) are also appropriate for Memorial Day. Lynn and I made a habit of pulling off at rest stops along the Interstate. We almost didn’t visit this one in Kentucky, but I was really glad when we pulled into the parking lot and saw a beautiful field of poppies overlooking the road. I crouched down low to hide the traffic and emphasize the flowers and made this image:
I was using a Nikon D-90 camera and my telephoto lens at the time was the 70-300mm f/4.0 – 5.6 lens. To get the shutter speeds I needed, I had to set my ISO between 800 and 1000. The D-90 sensor was good for the time, but at those ISOs, overcast skies, fast action and small apertures made for challenging exposures. While I like the photos I came back with, I’ve always wished the image quality was a bit better.
Fast forward to this week when DxO Photo Lab Version 4 was announced. It advertises a new RAW conversion approach that uses machine learning to combine demosaicing and denoising into one step. They say:
“The resulting photo quality is nothing short of spectacular, especially for photos taken in low light conditions that require brightening certain areas, photos with small pixels, and photos taken with early-generation cameras.”
That sounds like just what I needed for those old photos, so I decided to reprocess a couple of them. In addition to DxO Photo Lab, I also have new versions of Lightroom (with very nice texture, clarity, and dehaze controls) as well as Topaz Sharpen AI.
Would the new software improve these photos? Let’s see. Here are the results in image compare frames so you can see the differences (newer versions on the right). You’ve seen the first one in the blog before.
I think the reprocessed version has better detail / focus, less noise, and improved contrast / colors.
The next one hasn’t been in the blog before. I’ve always liked the action / viewpoint / composition and “flight aspect” of the whale, but the noise, color and focus were disappointing.
After reprocessing, I think the image quality is more than acceptable.
My workflow for these was:
Raw conversion using DxO Optics Pro 4 with “Deep Prime” noise reduction and export back to Lightroom in RAW / DNG format
Adjustments in Lightroom: exposure, highlights, shadows, texture, dehaze
Sharpening with Topaz Sharpen AI
If you’re interested in more detail about the steps I went through, just ask in a comment and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.
I’m very glad that I’ve been shooting in and saving RAW format images. It takes up more storage space and requires more post processing work than using jpg files. But having RAW files for my favorite photos lets me take advantage of new technology and algorithms as they become available.
Keeping up with all these new capabilities requires time, effort, and money. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the software we have today is vastly superior to what was available 11 years ago. What do you think?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe out there and take care of each other. And if you can, make or reprocess some RAW photos!