Yes, I’m stuck on streams. And, once again, I didn’t go looking for this photo, which was buried in my 2008 collection. What fascinates me about this shot is that it is of the same place in the stream as the photo you see below. The camera position is different, but if you compare the two, you’ll see the same old rocks. And they haven’t changed.
This photo was “adjusted” with Nik Color Efex 4 and OnOne Perfect Effects 4. (I’m in a filtering phase and I need to get over it because years from now these filters won’t seem so cool to me.)
By the way, I still have 5 spots left for the July “Black Hills Photo Adventure.” You should join me and I’ll teach you everything I know (or can teach in two days) about photography similar to the kind you see here. And we will visit all of my secret spots along Iron Creek.
This is the 4th in a series of recent posts that are photos I took to my recent visit to the Black Hills. It is also another surreal looking HDR photo. Generally, I am very conservative about filtering my photos but I guess I am captivating by the alternative reality that HDR brings to the world we see.
And now my mind is wandering to people from the 1960s and 1970s like LSD guru Timothy Leary (“Tune in, turn on drop out”) and peyote promoting Carlos Castenada (A Separate Reality, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, etc.). Mushrooms, peyote and LSD were considered “mind altering” drugs. I will admit that I never tried any of them.
Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 is my mind altering drug. It may even be performance enhancing. It has no side effects and its use is legal in all 50 states.
Here’s another photo from the snowy walk I made with my friend Dennis N. This was taken a little bit before the one from yesterday. And what stopped me in my tracks were Dennis’ tracks.
As with almost all of the photos I took on this outing, this is an HDR photo. I think that HDR is one way to preserve detail in snow, which would normally be fairly non-descript in its pure white form.
The title? It’s the first line of Frost’s famous poem “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening”:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
When I saw these leaves a couple of days ago on a photo walk in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserves along Iron Creek in the Black Hills, I was intrigued that they had hung on for the whole winter. Most leaves drop in the fall, of course. But these high marks for persistence.
The other intriguing feature is that if you look closely, you can see that tiny buds are starting to form and I’m guessing that is a week or so the old leaves will drop and the new ones will debut. Sadly, I won’t be there to witness it, since I live 8 hours away from this scene.
A late spring snow storm hit our part of the Black Hills and left 10″ of beautiful snow. And so, a friend and I ventured back to Iron Creek to see what things looked liked. As much as I have photographed this spot, I have never photographed it with this much snow. For me, then, it was a rare opportunity.
Hiking along the creek for a half mile was made difficult by the relatively deep snow but ours were the first footsteps along the trail and there was something satisfying about that.
I took quite a few HDR photos but this is one that I’m keeping. Stylistically, it is similar to yesterday’s post and I guess that’s what I was after. Is is a good photo? I don’t know – I have an emotional (and physical) investment in this one right now and so my judgement is clouded. But even if I hadn’t gotten a single good photo yesterday, I would have said that my “photo walk” was worth it. As Harry Chapin said, “It’s the goin’ not the gettin’ there that’s good.”
I am in the Black Hills to attend the annual TIE convention. But given a little time yesterday morning, I went out to my favorite spots to take even more photos of the same scenery. But this time there was good flow in Iron Creek and there was snow left from the most recent snow fall. And so I got a look unlike others I’ve taken along this creek. The other feature I liked about this scene were the bright orange tree leaves along the right side of the photo. I’m guessing in another week or two, those leaves will disappear and the new ones will bud out.
So this is a transient scene, in many ways. In fact a Greek atmonist philosopher named Heraclitus said that you “could never step in the same stream twice” because all of nature is in a constant state of flux: panta rei or “everything flows.” Good photographers understand this and their best photos are captured at the right moment.
(I should say that this is an HDR photo and that’s why there is a bit of a surreal look here.)
My friend Jack H. asked me yesterday if teaching photography has helped make me a better photographer and he had barely finished the sentence when I said, “Yes.” I then went on to say that in finding words to describe thought and physical processes that are the result of 10 years of fairly random reading/looking and endless practice based mainly on intuition has made me more aware of the complexities of finding, framing and capturing my subjects.
Beyond that, I am much more sophisticated in how I use software. And this photo is an example. Frankly, I have posted a nearly identical shot of this place in this blog already. The difference is that I was “playing” with software that I didn’t have a few years ago and with processes like sharpening, white balance, saturation and contrast that I didn’t have as of understanding as I do now.
Is this a better photo? Maybe not. In fact, the casual observer may not even see what is “right” about this photo. I would like to think that my second year photo students would because I see clear evidence that they “get it”: that they see and understand the 10,000 minute differences between the simple and the sublime.
I make a photographic pilgrimage to this place in the Black Hills of South Dakota two or three times a year. I have taken countless pictures here but in 2009, when the photos for today’s post were taken, I was experimenting with high dynamic range photography. HDR photos are often two or more photos that are exposed for specific parts of a scene and re then combined.
In 2009 the only process I knew for combining two photos into one was a labor intensive task and so I never got around to playing with these pictures. Until yesterday.
The process now involves using an automated process in Photoshop CS5 and then importing the composite into Aperture and doing the fine tuning there.
Beneath today’s post I am revealing the original files. I’m not sure that I should show these files because you might think I am doing something unnatural to the scene to make it look better. But I’m letting you in on a bit of the amazing HDR process. And did Iron Creek really look like the final result in this post? More or less. I say this because HDR processing allows for surrealism and I would say that there is a bit of that here. The result, given the two original files, is certainly intriguing.
Yes, it’s Iron Creek again, which I call “the same old stream” in this post, though this capture tends to feature the same old rocks more than the stream.
Frankly, I was surprised to see so much water flowing through the creek this late in the season (October 9). But even though there was pretty good flow, it took an 8 second exposure the get the smooth, fluid look that the water has.
I love this place and will probably never stop photographing it, though I suspect I don’t need to post any more photos of the place on this blog.
And I should say that sometimes my photography has less to do with the result than it does with the act.
The Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers spent considerable time pondering the nature of the universe. One, whose name was Empedocles, said simply that everything can be reduced to four elements: air, earth, fire and water.
Of all of these, my camera is most often drawn to the latter. Maybe that’s why I return again and again to Iron Creek when I am in the Black Hills. I was just out walking along the creek when I found this photo. I figured I had enough of Iron Creek, though it’s not often that the rocks are wet and the creek is running high so late in June.