Thursday
Apr262018

Le Grand Voyage — Day 25

This was my favorite day in France.

We rented bicycles from the friendly man at the bike rental / wine store. He spoke fragmented English, but he drew some scribbles on a comically bad map and sent us on our way.

(As an aside, someone could make a killing selling bike maps in France. There are routes marked everywhere, but no maps to speak of. Needless to say, this frustrated me.)

Dorinna pulled Nate in a tag-a-long, and we both had baskets and panniers for carrying things. We started out of town, heading down the Loire river on a bike path. We had a little confusion before we found our turn. Up, up, up the river valley. We eventually left the town and the route turned into a bike path through Forêt d'Amboise (Amboise Forest). 

We crested a hill and the trail became mostly downhill, finally coming out through vineyards and farms. 

We continued up the Cher river valley, mostly on bike paths, but with a few roads thrown in as well. We generally tracked upstream, crossing to the south bank at one point. We passed through another forest, now on a dirt path, arriving at Château de Chenonceau.

Château de Chenonceau has an unusual design. The main castle lay on the north bank of the Cher river. But a great hall extends over the river to the south bank. We couldn't enter from our side so we continued upstream to the next bridge crossing and looped back. We grabbed sandwiches and then headed into the castle.

The château had a rich history, involving kings, queens, mistresses, and various other intrigues. The castle felt eminently livable, more so than any other we've seen. The rooms were nicely furnished, and the audioguide that described it all was the best yet. We walked a bit through the gardens and played in the hedge labyrinth before heading back to the bikes.

Our route back was a bit confused as we tried to avoid backtracking upstream and crossing to the south bank. We found ourselves climbing steeply out of the valley, which clued us in to the fact that we were on a different marked route back to Amboise. We decided to give it a shot and we were glad we did. We climbed steeply through a series of tiny villages, each one cuter than the one before. "This is disgustedly cute" I exclaimed. Farms and small copses were interspersed between the villages. When we made it out of the valley we stopped for a snack of bread and nutella to recharge. The bike route signs had disappeared, and we kind of felt our way home from there.

As we traveled back through the Forêt Amboise, Dorinna was getting tired of pulling Nate, so we switched bikes. Dorinna hadn't realized that my bike was a noisy, rusty, clunky, wholly-inadequate, barely-ridable piece of trash, and we quickly switched back. It was easier to pull Nate than to ride my bike, so my disparagement was no exaggeration. We found our way back into town and down the main strip.

A wonderful, magical day exploring the french countryside. Doing it on bicycles made it that much better!

Sunday
Apr222018

WIRR 2018, April Week 1

On my bike ride home from work, the Spring Creek Bike Trail passes by a small pond and series of marshes. On Thursday night, I spotted a woman taking photos of the pond with her phone. I turned to look and saw these two American White Pelicans sitting on a submerged branch. Thankfully, my regular camera was packed in one of my bicycle’s panniers. I was able to make a number of shots from the bank before the birds swam out of range. White Pelicans are big birds, and one my favorites. They are distinctive and recognizable in flight because of their size and black tipped wings. The bumpy plate on their upper bills indicate they are adults in breeding season. I usually only see them on larger lakes, so seeing them on my bike ride home was an unexpected treat and became my favorite image of the week.

White Pelicans

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 55mm, f/8 at 1/60, ISO 400.

Digital Darkroom. I was close to the pelicans… but not this close. Post-processing started with a significant crop. I made an attempt to remove the sticks, but this was beyond my skills and my iPad apps. I settled for tweaking exposure and contrast. I lowered clarity in the image, giving it a slight blur. I then used a brush in increase the clarity on the birds themselves, bringing back the detail in the feathers. 

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.

 

Sunday
Apr082018

WIRR 2018, March Week 4

This week I had lunch with one of my favorite photographers, Cole Thompson. We talked about approaches to photography, building projects, and his travels around the world. As I walked back to the office afterwards, I naturally started looking for things to photograph. My enthusiasm outpaced my vision on that particular day, and I was struggling to find anything interesting. Finally, one block from the office, I stumbled upon a wall painted pale blue, with a darker blue window on one end. I knew I wanted this photo to be about open space, so I leaned in close and shot what became my favorite image of the week.

Blue

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 29mm, f/8 at 1/180, ISO 200.

Digital Darkroom. I want to say that I started with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio crop to extenuate the emptiness. As it turns out, I had inadvertently set the camera to shoot in that aspect ratio to begin with, so that’s what I had to start with. (I shoot RAW+JPG, so I could have gone back to a regular 3x4 shot, but I liked this better anyway). I increased the exposure and lowered clarity. I usually raise clarity, not lower it, but I wanted this photograph to be about color and empty space, not about wall texture. After raising the exposure, I added a graduated filter on the left side to lower it again, and keep the deep blues on that edge of the photograph. Finally, I increased the saturation of the blue and purple channels.

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.

 

Sunday
Apr012018

WIRR 2018, March Week 3

The city of Fort Collins has an Art in Public Places program that allows artists to paint the electrical transformer cabinets around town. Hard-to-find overcast days are the perfect times to photograph them. I think these transformers bring splashes of brightness and color to alleys and other areas that are usually dirty and dingy. My ongoing photo project about these transformers tries to emphasize just that. Overflowing garbage dumpsters in the background just make the contrast easier to see! This transformer, painted by Terry McNerney, became my favorite image of the week.

Color Transforms City — Chestnut Street

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 32mm, f/8 at 1/125, ISO 200.

Digital Darkroom. Describing how I make these images is probably worth a blog post someday. Most of the work is done with Snapseed. I start by enhancing the color, contrast, and structure. On top of that I layer a dingy black and white layer. I then paint away the black and white over the transformer, revealing the colors underneath. For this particular image, I finished with a vignette and then added a white border using PhotoToaster.

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
Mar262018

WIRR 2018, March Week 2

For Nate’s spring break, we headed to a friend’s house in Oak Creek for a few days of skiing at Steamboat Springs. We left late, with the idea that we would stop along the way and do a short snowshoe. We chose the Walton Peak trailhead in Rabbit Ears pass. It turned out to be a good choice, and we had a fun little three-mile jaunt. At the beginning, though, we got some resistance from Nate and during one of those periods I started shooting pictures. Many of these will be appearing on Instagram soon as a mini-project titled Snow Shadows. But before I started on those images, I tried a few trees against the skyline (reject) and then a few shots of a snow-covered brook (jackpot). I love the soft curves, the mystery of the dark gap in the snow, and the cool tones of this wintry day. It became my favorite image of the week. 

Snow-covered Creek

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 32mm, f/5.6 at 1/950, ISO 200.

Digital Darkroom. When I shot this photo I was 100% positive it was going to end up as black and white. So much for that— I loved the soft blue too much. I ended up raising the exposure by half a stop, and punching up the vibrance. I also lowered the light temperature to increase the blues. Although originally shot with Fujichrome Velvia emulation, I changed it to Provia in post; the Velvia added too much of a magenta cast. I finished processing by using the spot removal tool to take out a few pieces of dirt on the snow.

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.

 

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