May is the season of yellow flowers in Palouse. The purple lupine is also in bloom but not as tall as that I see in Northwest coast and certainly not as bright as the yellow balsamroot. Up on the south slope of Steptoe Butte, the dominant flower is balsamroot, which seems more capable of resisting the strong wind that always over the butte. Photographing the flowers on the windy slope is difficult, but a little blur of the foreground flowers do not make a picture less beautiful.
The brilliantly yellow flowers of rapeseed (aka canola) are also in bloom. According to Pullman Chamber of Commerce, 2013 sees the largest planting of canola in Whitman County. Huge patches of canola fields can be seen along Highway 26 near Colfax. On a sunny day, they are so bright that the yellow color tends to be over-saturated in photographs.
The Palouse area in eastern Washington State is a fascinating place for photography. Unlike other much photographed areas, it does not constrain your point of view to any particular “viewpoint” like a tourist destination, because everywhere and everything there can be a point of interest for you. There IS a small mountain, the Steptoe Butte, where you can stretch your view over the rolling hills and fields, and no one would like to miss the chance to see a beautiful sunrise or sunset from up there. But down below, at almost every turn on the winding country roads, you would find something interesting for your camera. And, because of crop rotation and weather change, the hues of the fields and the rolling hills are different from season to season and year to year. You always have something new to photograph. That’s why I keep coming back to that place since 2011.
In the next several posts, I will share some of the photos I recently took in the Palouse.
Here are a few panorama pictures (created by stitching multiple pictures). Click the pictures to see them in larger size:
The azalea and rhododendron are blooming profusely in my backyard. Looking at their inviting colors, I always have an urge to take a photo or two of them. But my backyard does not provide any good background for them. Also, the fact that they are not home planted flowers does not go in sync with my preference for things natural. I am then reminded of the wild azalea I photographed five years ago in a mountain valley near Huangshan (the well-known Yellow Mountain) in China. They are wild flowers growing in a rocky valley dotted with pine trees. It was a very foggy day when I was there taking pictures of them. The flowers were wet and their colors were deeply and naturally saturated under diffused foggy light. The image quality of those pictures was not very good as I had only a Canon Rebel 350D camera (8M pixel). Nonetheless, I love those pictures!
I also remember that after a short stay in the valley, we (I was with my mom and two brothers on that trip) went to a roadside diner for lunch, where I took a picture of the owner’s daughter. The little girl was dressed in red, very healthy looking and as lovely as the azalea.
Photos of star trails are normally taken at places away from city in complete darkness. That usually means that a city guy like me has to drive far away from home. Besides the hassle of driving, I often find it difficult to find human element on the ground to compliment the star trail when I photograph star trails away from urban areas.
Last night (May 2, 2013) clouds were blown away by strong wind and a clear sky was revealed. I decided to try a star trail shoot in my neighborhood. There is a fisherman’s memorial at Garry Point Park near my home, which takes the form of a freestanding giant fishing net needle. It would be a nice ground element if I could frame the fishing net needle with its tip pointing at the Polar Star (Polaris). However, it was extremely difficult to find the star, because it’s weak light was overwhelm by the strong light contamination from the nearby fishing village. I took my shots anyway, with my cheap Rokinon 14mm ultrawide lens. Twelve shots, at f6.7 300 seconds ISO 160 each, were taken and they look like this in contact sheet form:
Back home, the shots (in raw format) were converted into tiff files in Lightroom and then combined into a single image in Startrails, an excellent free software developed by a German programmer Achim Schaller (it can be downloaded here). Then, in Photoshop, the image was cropped, and its white balance, tone, contrast etc. were adjusted. Edge masking and layer blending were used to lighten up the trails. Tree tips on the lower right corner and light trails from low flying airplanes on the lower left corner were cloned away. Voila, a relatively clear and clean startrail image!
If I take another shoot, I will try to get the tip of the needle pointing exactly at Polaris.
P.S. Words inscribed on the momorial:
May 4, 1996
This memorial honours all the fishermen of our community who have
lost their lives in the pursuit of their profession.
Their courage, dedication and contribution to the development of our
community will never be forgotten.”
Beautiful May Day!
By 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock light, I refer to the direction of light relative to your camera position. In other words, it is half back light or half rim light. Combined with a relative dark background (darker than the subject), such light creates nice rim light of the subject. The effect is particularly outstanding if the subject has hairy outlines.
Below are two pictures taken with natural 1 o’clock light:
One might think of adding a “fill light” to the 11/1 o’clock light, but I think fill light would reduce or even white out its rimming effect. I prefer rescuing shadow details in post processing, which gives me better control.
Another example is the first picture in my earlier post entitled Make Use of the Harsh Light. It was taken with 11 o’clock light.
What do you get if you shake your camera (aka ICM) when you take pictures of flowers or plants and blend them together in Photoshop afterwards?
That’s what I did a few days ago. I went to Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Garden with a friend. Some flowers were blooming, but a lot of species were not yet. Somewhat not satisfied with a few shots of a few flowers, we became playful with our cameras and started taking pictures with “intentional camera movement” (aka ICM), a trick a lot of photographers have employed to produce abstract pictures. I had also played that trick before, but this time I tried something different: blending (lighten mode) in-focus pictures with their ICM counterparts.
In my opinion, they don’t look much different or better than those I made with only ICM. See some of my earlier ICM pictures below.
These are some of the shots I took of the boys and girls who performed Sikh dances at the Varsakhi celebration in Surrey, BC, Canada last weekend (April 20, 2013). Don’t they look lovely? If you are interested in the Sikh festival, read my photo blogs on the Varsakhi celebration in 2012 (Varsakhi in Vancouver; Turbans, Beards and the Sikhs; Colorful Punjabi; Bhangra Dance at Varsakhi)
A word of caution for those who may be interested in going to the next Varsakhi celebration in Surrey: you may feel headache with the huge crowd
Well, I should add: if you like to try out many kinds of Sikh food for free, go!
To wrap up my New Orleans travel photo records, I attach here a few street shots I took in the French Quarter.
I noticed in a few streetcar rides that outside the French Quarter in the close perimeter of the downtown area, there are not many locals around on the street, especially during the weekend. Whereas in the French Quarter tourists overwhelm the locals in numbers (even during the Easter Parade). It is not easy to take street shots which do not include tourists.
The first four pictures, if looked at as a group, may suggest some stereotypes. Which I have to disclaim, if just for the sake of political correctness.
I love the reflection of Bourbon Street on his sun glasses:
This man gave me an awesome smile. I love his shirt and hat too.
Bourbon Street at night:
Jackson Square is where the hustle and bustle of the day-time New Orleans is, a major contribution to which are the street entertainers. Their images are a necessary part of any travel photos for any new visitor to New Orleans.
One thing in the French Quarter of New Orleans that won’t miss the attention of any first-time visitor is the horse head hitching posts along the streets. They are everywhere. They look timeworn. They are not all the same. Some have been painted over and over. Some are rusted and cracked. But they are still solid and firm, apparently capable of witnessing what’s going on in the French Quarter for a long long time to come.
|dannyxu on Palouse Flowers|
|hak670s on Palouse Flowers|
|Laura on Star Trails Over the Fisherman…|
|10 O’clock and… on Make Use of the Harsh Light…|
|yd653 on Some Faces at the St. Patrick…|