Monday, May 11, 2009

the aftermath

moonrise over casa grande

So back home and now trying to manage the rest of the SoFoBoMo process. Haven't really even started looking at the images, never mind editing any of them. Just shuffling around the 20Gb, 2000+ image files, renaming them, backing them up, getting previews set up and that sort of thing, ready to start looking at what I took. I've picked out a few that have caught my eye and done a quick edit, like this one above and the previous two posts. I've got no idea if they will make the cut for the final book. I don't even know what the final book is going to be about - probably just bundled under the theme of 'road trip'. I'm sure Colin Pantall has a 'how not to photograph' that addresses that sort of random collecting head on, but it is what I have.

Process while traveling was pretty straight forward. Shoot things that interested me. Drive Amanda crazy. Repeat. Then in the few evenings when we had power, dump the contents of the CF cards to my very small and underpowered linux laptop drive and also to a removable backup drive. These were then stored separate from each other, so that if someone stole my camera bag, or broke into the car, or stole the car, I'd at least have the backups and a story for the insurance company. I did no editing and almost no review all last week. No time, too small a screen, limited power for the camera to even chimp much, particularly when trying to do night shots (long exposure equals quick battery drain). The fun part of that is that a week later I'm now actually hopefully going to start getting to see the images. (when this backup actually finishes) The bad I suppose is that I could well have screwed up many days of things without realising it and it would be about 500 miles for a retake.

The other thing I'm finally getting to grips with, spurred on by SoFoBoMo is calibrating this new Mac and getting things like Adobe Photoshop actually configured again. All things I should have done a few weeks ago when I got the computer, but laziness always finds a way. I shot quite a few images with the thought or potential to make HDR versions of the results, even though I've never tried it with the Mac OS X HDR software options (which I don't currently know much about - any reviews, raves, suggestions there? comments very welcome).

This evening then is mostly book-keeping, fiddling, renaming, filing, sorting and getting ready to start getting ready. All busy work really but essential I suppose, if I'm going to get this random assortment of stuff into some sort of book shape. Should be fun.

The image above was taken in Big Bend National Park, in the Chisos Mountains basin. There was a fair bit of pre-planning involved - picking the right camp site, with the right view of Casa Grande, on the right day that the moon was going to rise over it, as a full moon. The tent was partially pitched with this shot in mind (and mostly pitched with how the ground sloped in mind, too) There was a large helping of luck involved too, I didn't expect the moon to rise quite so perfectly over the corner of the big mountain. That actually was painful because it meant the moon shadow was all around us for a good hour before the light really actually touched our campsite - quite frustrating if you wanted to get some sleep!

For lighting, I put a Canon 580EX II speedlite in the tent, with a full CTO gel over the flash. The tent was already orange and red, but I wanted to use the CTO gel so that I could shoot in Tungsten white balance, to really get the deep, midnight blue into the clear night sky. The CTO gel and Tungsten white balance cancel out for the tent lighting, returning it to the already red/ orange appearance. I used a Canon ST-E2 remote trigger to control the flash in TTL mode and then just waited for the moon to rise and worked out a reasonable exposure, stopped down quite far to give enough depth of field to get the mountain silhouette sharp and the tent in focus. The stopped down aperture also causes the bright moon to create the ray/ star effect.


Ove said...

I think you succeeded very well with this shot on the tent in the moonshine. Looks very cosy too, can't imagine why you would want to sleep. :) Really nice lighting from the inside of the tent - and thinking too, yet not necessarily from the inside of the tent :) - to be able to use the tungsten white balance.

MW said...

by far the best photo I've seen on your blog in months!

Dave Wilson said...

Another great shot, Gordon! As regards HDR software, you could do a lot worse than download the trial version of HDRSoft's Photomatix ( I use the Windows version and for "artistic" HDR it's pretty much the defacto standard.

Anita Jesse said...

Who needs sleep when you can get a shot like this one?! The planning certainly paid off. The contrast of the warm tent and the cool midnight blue sky make for a terrific image.

Unknown said...

well, more specifically Amanda wanted to go to sleep, and the flash popping off every now and then in the tent would have not made me too popular for much longer.