Saturday
Sep302017

WIRR 2017, September Week 1

I spent this week at a conference in Chicago, IL. While I’m sure there are plenty of photo ops in this city, my time was taken up by the conference. But my daily photo project never stops, and thankfully there was lots to photograph in the historic Hilton Chicago. Many of the conference sessions were held in an old ballroom, with magnificent chandeliers overhead. My trusty iPhone allowed me to capture one of these beautiful lights, and it became my favorite image of the week.

Chandelier

iPhone 7, f/1.8 at 1/120, ISO 40.

Digital Darkroom. I started by using TouchReTouch to remove a few specks and ornamental decorations from the ceiling. I wanted a clean circular image. From there I warmed it up, and added exposure, contrast, and clarity. I then lowered highlights and shadows. I ended with a square crop to bring the image some additional symmetry.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Friday
Sep292017

WIRR 2017, August Week 4

Doors are fascinating. In a way, they are places of transition into different realities. A solid door with no window adds an additional element of mystery. What’s behind this door? Is this a house in this downtown alley? Apartments? An office? Is it nice, or just a dump? These doors bring questions with no answers. This image became the start of an ongoing series on doors, and was my favorite image of the week.

Ivy 235

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 30mm, f/11 at 1/60, ISO 400.

Digital Darkroom. Just a set of typical adjustments here to exposure, contrast, clarity, etc. I didn’t touch vibrance or saturation, besides using my camera’s Fujifilm Velviafilm emulation. 

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Thursday
Sep282017

Photography, February 2017

A collection of photos from February 2017 that didn't fit in with other posts.

Floral KaleidescopeAirport SunriseCeiling LampPalm BranchesIcy GrassGlazed GrassGlass in the WindRoof

 
Wednesday
Sep272017

WIRR 2017, August Week 3

I noticed it first. I had put on my glasses to look at the sun. “It’s starting! It’s not round!” I shouted. I had tried the glasses earlier in the morning to see how they worked, so I could tell that there was now a small chunk taken out of the upper right corner of the sun. Strange, but mostly a curiosity. It didn’t feel real.

We had traveled to the Laramie Mountains in Wyoming to see The Great American Eclipse. I had searched my Hiking Wyoming guidebook for a backpack near the path of totality and found a place called LaBonte Canyon. Our original plan was to go backpacking there, but once we hooked up with our old friend Tim Brooks we opted for roadside car camping instead.

Coming from the south, LaBonte was 64 miles of dirt road north of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The drive was through open short-grass prairie that slowly, very slowly, transitioned into sage brush, and then, quickly, very quickly, transitioned into forest. The canyon was pleasant, and we had a nice hike there on Sunday, but it lacked the grandeur and magnificence of the southern Colorado Rocky Mountains where had just spent the last two weeks.

But we weren’t there for the mountains, we were there to see the sun get swallowed by a giant wolf eclipsed by the moon. We had scouted out areas the day before, and found a stretch of 15-20 miles of wide open prairie not far from where we were camped. We asked the rangers about the legality of parking roadside, and when we found out it was fine, we realized that the entire population of Wyoming could fit along this road to watch the eclipse. Even though we were 64 miles from the closest town (and I am stretching the definition to call Medicine Bow a town), our camping area was packed with people. Everywhere there was room for a tent there were people camped out. We saw more than a few tents pitched on the shoulders of the road itself. On eclipse day, though, the wide open spaces made it easy to spread out and it never felt crowded. We ended with a spot on a hill with views to the horizon in all directions.

As the eclipse progressed, different things became noticeable. “Is it my imagination or is it getting cooler out?” It wasn’t my imagination. It did get significantly cooler- enough for all of us to put on extra jackets. It also got dimmer. The sun just wasn’t as bright. I didn’t need my sunglasses from the glare. The woman from Laramie who was watching with us rattled off the different shutter speeds she was using. Her camera dropped from 1/160 to 1/60 in a ten-minute span.

And then, things got interesting. 

Some friends of mine didn’t travel to the area of totality; they thought that since Fort Collins reached 95% totality, there was no need. Having experienced this, I’d say the difference between 99% and 100% is far greater than the difference between 0% and 99%. The ten minutes before and after, plus the two-minutes plus of totality itself, was the real show.

First, the light got flat- like skiing in the late afternoon. Or maybe like someone put a gray filter on the sun. The colors were all wrong. It was hazy, like a sunset in a forest fire. As the shadows dimmed to nothing, the quick sparkle of the diamond ring appeared on the sun, as the last vestiges disappeared. Totality was upon us.

A 360-degree sunset (sunrise?). Not a spectacular one, but a reddish glow all around. I tried to capture this with a panorama, but in the excitement I forgot that the ISO of my camera was still set for daylight, not twilight.

A sky of deep twilight, not pitch black, but enough to see planets and a few bright stars.

Yells and cries from people around us viewing the eclipse.

In retrospect, I spent too much time admiring the twilight, and the light around me, and not enough on the sun itself. I think training myself all morning not to look at the sun without the glasses made me reluctant somehow. Or maybe it was a primal fear? Who wants to look at a black hole where the sun was supposed to be?

That’s my best description of what it looked like- a black hole in the sky, wrapped in the ethereal glow of the corona.

I cannot imagine how terrifying this event must have been to primitive cultures. I knew all the scientific facts about it, and could have calculated to the second when the sun was coming back. But my hair still stood on end, and a part of me was deeply, deeply freaked out.

I was trying to take another picture when someone yelled- “we have shadows!” I looked down to my right, to confirm this, and back up to glare. Totality was over.

A part of me inside relaxed and I breathed out deeply. There was definitely a sense of loss when totality was over- it’s over! - but also a lizard-brain sense of relief that the sun was back.

I turned to my phone and hit play. Here Comes the Sun

Photographically, I had two cameras going during the eclipse. My usual Fujifilm X-T2 for taking area shots, and then my older Canon 7D mounted on a sturdy tripod. I had a long 100-300 zoom lens attached to the Canon, and I used this to take my favorite image of the week.

Total Eclipse

Canon 7D, EF 100-300 F/4.5-5.6 USM at 300mm, f/5.6 at 1/50, ISO 1600.

Digital Darkroom. Not much to do here. I took a variety of exposures, and managed to nail it with this one. The sun and moon (with a guest appearance by the star Arcturus) provided all the contrast and drama that I needed. The only real edit needed was to maximize the the chromatic aberration slider to remove the purple fringe around the sun. A high-quality lens wouldn’t have needed this, but the 100-300 is not a high-quality lens.

 

Some more images:

Vantage PointSetting up the camerasThe obligatory shot of everyone wearing goofy eclipse glasses

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Monday
Sep252017

WIRR 2017, August Week 2

The day started out cloudy. Not raining, but it didn't look like it was going to be a good day for climbing high. We were camped at Lower Blue Lake, in the Uncompaghre Wilderness near Ridgway, Colorado. 

We left camp and started hiking. The climb was steep right from the start, but there were good views down to Lower Lake, and we eventually crested the hill and caught glimpses of Middle Lake far below us. According to the fishermen we met, the lake was filled with hungry trout.

We had lunch in a sheltered area, before continuing on to Upper Lake. At this point, Dorinna left us to relax for the afternoon while Nate and I continued climbing. I was under no illusions that we would make it far.

The trail was steep, with lots of switchbacks. No drop-offs per say, but lots of places where the slope was steep and gravelly, and it was a long tumble down. One section where the trail was eroded made both of us nervous. I did a re-telling of the Lord of the Rings to keep Nate going, and we kept climbing, slow and steady. Before we knew it, and before we could believe it, we were on the top of Blue Lakes Pass.

13,000'. The highest Nate has ever climbed. I gave him hugs and high-fives, and the small crowd at the top was wowed at his achievement. It was a super-proud Daddy moment and my favorite point of the entire vacation.

It was pretty overcast, but we still lingered to take pictures and relish the triumph. Soon enough it was time to go down. The trip down took a lot longer. Nate was pretty unnerved by the slope beneath him, especially now that we was looking straight down it. We crept down pretty slowly. It didn't help that the weather turned cold and windy, and then it starting raining. And then snowing. Nate was pretty excited about the snow but it definitely had me concerned. One switchback after another brought us closer to the Upper Lake and gentler slopes. It was relief when we made it there, and the rest of the trip went by quickly.

When we made it back to camp just after 6:00pm, Dorinna was putting her boots on and was going to look for us. Thankfully she didn’t have to, because she had spent part of the afternoon drinking a box of wine with the women in the campsite next to us. Not the best vintage, but when you’re backpacking it all tastes good. We had a third group join us for a community dinner, which was a wonderful way to end a great day.

The photo below was taken on the final ascent up to Blue Lakes Pass, and shows the Upper and Middle Blue Lakes. It was my favorite image of the week.

Blue Lakes

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 18mm, f/8 at 1/500; ISO 400.

The image above was my most “photographic” image of the day. But my favorites would have to be the shots below of my son.

Digital Darkroom. As bad as the weather was for hiking, it was worse for photography. Storm clouds are great, but overcast weather yields white, featureless skies. I intentionally underexposed all day, trying to get some cloud detail in my images. The result, shown below, was flat and bland. It took some work to make this photo look like I remembered it.

First, I cranked up a number of the dials. Clarity +14, contrast +31 (!), vibrance +40 (!!) and exposure +1.65 (!!!). To bring back the spectacular greens, I slammed the green saturation to +37 and the yellow saturation to +25. 

All of this washed up the sky again, of course. To fix that, I dragged down a graduated filter and lowered the exposure -1.4, or almost what I shot it at. I maxed out the clarity +100 and increased the contrast +20 to try to bring out more cloud detail. The graduated filter was straight, the mountain profiles were not, and the adjustments were not subtle. To finish the image, I had to painstakingly use a brush to adjust the edge of the filter to match the ridge line.

Here’s the original image, straight out of the camera:

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.