Study Group 2


Larry Treadwell (C)

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OCTOBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    Blowing Rocks
   
Goal:   Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast is the Blowing Rocks Preserve State Park. This preserve features an Anastasia Limestone shelf just below the normal sandy beach. When Hurricane Dorian blew through it eroded the sandy beach and left more of the rock exposed than usual. Thus one morning last month I arrived at the nearest parking area that was available before dawn and walked the mile and a half to the rocks so I would be there for first light.

The pounding ocean waves bore holes into the soft limestone and this action creates large holes in the stone that allows the incoming waves to literally blast through and rise above the exposed stone. I wanted to capture this wave action against the rocks.

Equipment/Source:    Image is made from a Nikon RAW file using a Nikon D810, 24-70mm lens, remote shutter release, tripod, gold reflector
 
Technique:   I used my tripod with a remote shutter release and a Nikon D810 camera with a 24-70mm lens with attached hood. I was working quite close to the rocks and shot at 24mm focal length. I experimented with several elevations of the tripod and settled on this height so as to make the blowhole on the left side behind the foreground spray visible. I tried several shutter speeds to see which created the most dramatic effect and settled on 1/5 of a second. The ISO was 64 and the aperture was 22 to keep everything in focus and allow for the slow shutter speed and the sun was rising during the shoot. I wanted to shoot while the sun was close to the horizon so that the angle of the light would be low and thus would create shadows and texture on the sand in the foreground. I felt the patterns left in the sand as the water washed out added interest. I was working quite close to the spray and had to reposition the tripod on the sand several times as the waves caused the sand to washout from under the tripod. Because the rocks were semi back lit I used a reflector that I held by hand at water level to bounce some light back on to the rocks. I had to wipe the spray off the lens quite frequently. The camera was protected with a Lenscoat raincoat and placed a protective filter on the lens. As these rocks are only visible after severe storms this was a rare opportunity to make this capture. I shot in burst mode capturing multiple of shots of each wave crash. I only shot for about 10 minutes before losing the light I wanted.  

Processing:    
In processing I had to straighten the image due to movement of the sand and there was some minor cropping on the right side. I had to bring down the highlights and open some shadows as the angle of the sunlight was quite low and was semi back lighting the rocks. I was getting a strong yellow/orange cast due to angle of the sun. This time of year Florida gets a lot of yellow gold sunrises and since I was getting this color cast I did enhance it in post processing.

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SEPTEMBER 2019 ROUND
Title:   Nature's Miracle
 
   
Goal:    While everyone has both seen and heard of rainbows few people know that there also exists such a thing as a moonbow. While it can occur on occasion in a variety of places there are two locations where this miracle of nature can be relatively easily found. It occurs infrequently at Yosemite Falls in California but it occurs each month in only one location, Cumberland Falls, in Kentucky, USA. Rainbows are caused by sunlight refracting off water particles that are present in the air after a heavy rain. Similarly, a moonbow appears when moonlight strikes water particles hanging in the air at night. The trouble is that the moon is not as bright as the sun and so a great deal more water particles are required to be suspended in the air for the moonbow to be visible. This happens when thundering amounts of water crash over a large waterfall creating mist and when then the mist is trapped by rocky cliffs on both sides of the falls that prohibits the mist from dispersing. On three nights each month (before, during and after) a full moon, when the moon is at its brightest, a moonbow appears in the mist at the base Cumberland Falls. As the moon rises above the cliffs and the trees its light strikes the mist and a moonbow appears. There are several problems trying to see this wonder. First the moonbow can barely be seen with the naked eye, (if you know when and where to look you may see a pale haze), second, the sky must be completely void of clouds and finally, the photographer has to be standing in a straight line created by the moon, the photographer and the mist. Composition is thus fixed and moving to the left or right, even a few feet, will cause the moonbow to become invisible. My goal was to capture this visual miracle of nature. Photographers come from all over the world to take this photo and competition for the right locations is fierce. I was forced to be there 8 hours before the event, just to obtain a prime location.


Equipment/Source: Taking this photo required the following settings. First I needed 190 seconds of exposure to allow the camera to absorb enough light for the moonbow to become visible. I used an aperture of 5.6 to gain some DOF and approach the sweet spot of the lens. The ISO was 400 because with an exposure that long I did not want to introduce noise. This photo was taken at 2:30 a.m. The moonbow is only visible for about 30 minutes because as the moon rises its angle changes and when the moon gets high the moonbow vanishes. If the exposure is run too long the moonbow actually moves to the right and will just becomes a blur (this happens at about a 4 minute or longer exposure). Of course the camera was on a tripod, I used mirror lock up and a cable release. I applied Long Exposure Noise Reduction in the camera. The camera was a Nikon D810, with a 24-70mm lens set to 32 mm. and focused on infinity. This image is from a Nikon RAW file. 

Technique:  Taking this photo required the following settings. First I needed 190 seconds of exposure to allow the camera to absorb enough light for the moonbow to become visible. I used an aperture of 5.6 to gain some DOF and approach the sweet spot of the lens. The ISO was 400 because with an exposure that long I did not want to introduce noise. This photo was taken at 2:30 a.m. The moonbow is only visible for about 30 minutes because as the moon rises its angle changes and when the moon gets high the moonbow vanishes. If the exposure is run too long the moonbow actually moves to the right and will just becomes a blur (this happens at about a 4 minute or longer exposure). Of course the camera was on a tripod, I used mirror lock up and a cable release. I applied Long Exposure Noise Reduction in the camera. The camera was a Nikon D810, with a 24-70mm lens set to 32 mm. and focused on infinity. This image is from a Nikon RAW file. 

Processing:  As noted, composition is basically fixed by the position of the moon. This photo was taken by partially positioning the camera so that it hung over the edge of the cliff. To see the moonbow I was forced to keep the rock on the left in the frame. Moving to the right is not an option as I am on the edge of a cliff. Zooming the lens to a wider position brings into the frame an iron rail in the foreground. I could not go to the base of the falls because of the high water level and the rocks where I would have to stand were under water. In post I adjusted the white balance (the original scene was too blue), lowered the highlights to keep the mist visible, and brought down the saturation of the trees because they were bright green. I applied some sharpening to the rocks and added noise reduction.

I have been to the falls 5 times to obtain this photograph. On only two occasions has the weather been clear. On this occasion the first two nights were cloudy and foggy. Only on the third and last night did the weather clear. Yes that’s right, I spent more than 24 hours waiting over three days for 30 minutes of actual shooting. It is a 900 mile trip for me to get to the falls, I will continue to return until I can get to the lower level to try for a better composition. High summer water levels and icy rocks and closed trails make it impossible in the winter. You all should give this a try it is really beautiful.


Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)

   Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by commentator Tom S.
I shot moonbows some years ago in Yosemite, and the thing that surprised me was that the light of the full moon rising was orange like a sunrise. The human eye doesn’t see it because we don’t see color well at night, however, the camera sees the orange. The orange at Yosemite was more vivid than in your image because it comes across the desert whereas it does not in Kentucky. But your image does show some orange light, which gives it an unusual look for a waterfall image. If I were you, I would make a large print of this and hang it on my wall over my couch. You have nice memories of how much trouble it was to get. However, if you enter it in an exhibition, you will probably be disappointed because the judges won’t know or care how much trouble it was to get, and since exhibitions don’t normally read the titles, they won’t understand the funky color. It will look to them like a muddy river.

N-3, T-3, P-2 Total=8


Review by Ken W

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice photo of a moon lite waterfall. You are far more dedicated than I am as a photographer. It is your story that makes this such an interesting photo.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good sharpness in rocks and trees, and nice blur to waterfall. The moonbow is well defined. I would have preferred the overall exposure to be a little brighter. I know this is asking a lot from an isolated moon-lite area.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a nice photo, but it is really the story that makes this photograph.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Gang Z

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Your photo is so storytelling that I didn't think it would be so easy to get a photo.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure normal, focus clear. The depth of field control is reasonable.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The picture is reasonable. The main body is prominent. After the proper handling.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
It wasn't easy to get the picture.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by William S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting nature story, your description really helped to understand the nature event.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You did not state what distance you were from the subject as focusing to infinity did not record a sharp focused foreground in the rock area and the same area of the moonbow. The water area is understandable because of movement during the long exposure. You really did a lot of research in preparing for this shot and I compliment you for this.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I struggled with the composition and concluded that it was acceptable. However the softness and contrast of the image does not allow the main subject to stand out.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by MJ S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Average story

SCORE N (Nature) 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure highlights the rainbow, nicely blurred water

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colors and mood, I would hang on my wall

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
first congr on your persistence and effort to take this shot. On top of that thank you for sharing this information.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
just from the reading of the write up, got to solute on your effort and study of it.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
beautiful image and well worth the work.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
the research, study on this matter and persistence on the work, deserve extra point. we all in some way persist to get there, but this is definitely deserve a point.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 8

I am retired and living the good life in south Florida.  I have always had a love affair with the wilderness and the natural world.  This naturally lead to an interest in photography to bring home memories from my adventures in the wilderness.  I have thus been involved in photography for more than 40 years and have worked as a semi-professional including work for the PGA and LPGA as well as shooting sports for various local colleges. 

My favorite photographic locations are Everglades National Park (the hardest place I’ve ever found to photograph), the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.  That said, I will go anywhere to get a good image.  I enjoy shooting the Milky Way and the night sky, a real challenge, and I enjoy using long exposures.  

I have taught photography on the college level, belong to several local camera groups and have served as a photo judge at local clubs and for other local competitions.  Since retiring I have had several photographic exhibits in south Florida.

I am member of the online group called The Nikonians and shoot Nikon cameras currently using a D800 and D810.  While I have a collection of Nikon only lenses my favorites are my 24-70 and my baby, a 200-400 f4 beast that weighs 7.3 pounds.   My hiking buddy is my tripod that goes everywhere I do.