Oct 272013

Cloudplay №10 (Mirrored) ©2013 April Siegfried

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Just the other day, shortly after sunrise, the waves of Lake Michigan were washing high over beaches near my home. Storm clouds reflected briefly in the backwash, before disappearing into the sand.

My first inclination, with so many beautiful images right in front of me, was to dive in and start shooting with the hope of capturing as many as possible. It soon became clear, however, that a scattershot approach wasn’t going to work. I was only getting frustrated.

Stop; breathe. What am I really seeing? Where? What shutter speed and aperture would best express that? Will I be satisfied with the ISO required to do so?

In landscape or nature photography, I always feel the pressure of time because conditions change so quickly. The scenes in this case were especially fleeting, never to recur in quite the same way again. Once I took a little time to just look and think about the technical questions, then I was able to slow down and perceive what was happening—ready to shoot when it did.

Nikon D300; 1/180 sec @ f16, ISO 720 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 26mm (39mm EFL); focus distance 3.76m

Aug 092013

Storm №2

Nikon D300; 1/125 sec @ f8, ISO 560 (handheld); 18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 27mm (40mm EFL)

Storm №1 ©2013 by April Siegfried

Nikon D300; 1/125 sec @ f8, ISO 500 (handheld); 18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 26mm (39mm EFL)

Just the other day… At 6 a.m. I was standing on the end of a pier during a collision of weather fronts over Lake Michigan—marveling at the colors, storm light, and changing cloud formations. As the wind shifted from calm to whirling, it felt like I was in the center of a vortex.

When it finally began to rain, I retreated beneath trees in the park and realized I’d been the highest point on lakefront with the metal tip of my folded umbrella way above my shoulder. Probably not the smartest move.

But I didn’t get struck by lightning, and it was exhilarating to be there!

Sep 082012

Cloud Play №7
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Nikon D300; 1/60 sec @ f11, ISO 560 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 18mm (27mm EFL)

Cloud Play №6
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Nikon D300; 1/250 sec @ f9.5, ISO 200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5–5.6 @ 70mm (105mm EFL)

At this time of year in Chicago, we get to experience amazing cloudscapes along Lake Michigan.

Sep 212011

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This was a challenging image to process, with respect to color. When I tried to eliminate color casts—using every trick I know—it looked, somehow…wrong. Too, nature doesn’t always conform to our rules of color harmony.  🙂

Now I’ve reset my camera to shoot RAW+JPEG, so I’ll have a color reference. The JPEG preview on my camera display looked accurate in the field but, working solely with the RAW file next day, it was hard to recall from memory.

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 720 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22mm (33mm EFL)

Sep 122011

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This is one of those rare images where very little processing was needed. Other than running the file through the DxO raw converter and boosting contrast a bit, I have not modified the light—it is as seen!

Spot clean one distant black streak of a bird, add some high-pass sharpening, and done. I love when that happens. 🙂

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 200 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm (27mm EFL)

Aug 102011

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Note the focal length of this image, cropped only from 3:2 to 4:3. The cloud formation was huge.

See the little tiny speck near the lower edge, toward the right? That is a bird. 🙂 There’s enough resolution in the original file to actually discern its shape.

Cloud Play №1 was photographed in the parking lot of a Walgreen’s drugstore, and Cloud Play №2 in the parking lot of a local shopping mall. This was photographed just before 6AM at an intersection one block from my house. Even living in a city, I’m discovering there are pockets of space in which to enjoy such glorious skies!

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 1250 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm (72mm EFL); focus distance 21.13m

Jul 232010

The edge of a rooftop against an oncoming storm.

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Recently returned from an introductory workshop in “contemplative photography”, I’m excited about exploring a different approach. It resonates with me strongly at this particular time in my work.

This image seems appropriate for a return to posting. Except for the 95°F heat here in Chicago, I do feel energized. 🙂

Dark blue color swatch.Dark gray color swatch.Beige (Desert Sand) color swatch.

  • Dark blue R:69 G:100 B:124
  • Dark gray R:61 G:58 B:58
  • Beige R:224 G:203 B:186
Nov 302009

Color swatch dark blue Color swatch medium blue R189G136B119 [¹]

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It was cold this morning. After not very long I couldn’t feel the shutter release, and had to open a package of Little Hotties. But, I’m glad I showed up because these clouds were a gift!

Today’s image is a combination of three bracketed exposures, blended by hand using Craig Tanner’s method. Though I first tried running the image through Photomatix, it had some trouble with the moving elements and the fact this was shot handheld. As “Andreas wrote yesterday”, it’s about having choices.

As I finished processing, there was a nearly full moon rising in a clear evening sky outside my office window. That seems an auspicious ending for the November challenge!

Thank you for your company on this adventure. It’s definitely not over. 🙂

¹Colors of the day:

  • Dark blue R:18 G:45 B:78
  • Medium blue R:97 G:113 B:139
  • Orange R:189 G:136 B:119
Nov 292009

Color swatch light violet Color swatch medium violet Color swatch red [¹]

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Finally, something different! Clouds but no wind made for a beautiful morning on the lakefront, even though temperature was in the 30’s (F).

Today’s image is a composite of two frames: one to freeze motion in the clouds, and another of 3 seconds on the water to capture its calm and bring out the reflections.

Lesson of the day: Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and lighten to do a final check for spots — which I just found on my brighter laptop monitor. 😛

¹Colors of the day:

  • Light violet R:170 G:169 B:209
  • Medium violet R: 105 G:99 B:148
  • Red R:153 G:110 B:138