Thunderbird Sunset Revisited

I took a break yesterday from the camera and the computer in order to spend time getting new tires on my car, and then watching the final day of the Olympics.  Today I was a little late leaving the office, and the skies were overcast this evening, so I didn’t get a chance to shoot anything new.

However, I still had a lot of shots from last Saturday evening to play with, so I’ve spent some time this evening experimenting with different processing techniques in Photomatix.  I basically selected a bracketed series and then processed the same series multiple times in Photomatix using Detail Enhancement, Exposure Fusion, and Tone Compression separately to compare the results.  I’ve found that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to producing a pleasing image.

This first shot was taken just before the sun went behind the big cloud bank that was drifting in from the west ahead of the storm front that came in this past weekend.  (The sun was off to the left of this shot.) On this particular 3-shot series, I used Exposure Fusion, and I love the way it produced almost a painterly effect in the clouds:

The shot below was taken just after the sun went behind the cloud bank.  I kept hoping for the real distinct “God Rays” to appear, but it didn’t happen.  I still thought that the light was dramatic enough, however, to make a halfway decent photo.  For this one, I processed the three RAW files into an HDR using Detail Enhancement.  I then upped the contrast slightly and also sharpened it a little in Paintshop Pro, and here’s the result:

I tried this series using the Exposure Fusion method as well, but I wound up with a lot more noise, which I’m sure was partially due to starting out with JPG’s instead of RAW files.

Both of these shots can be seen in all their glory in large size on my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/suzannehight/.

While I was up on the hilltop in the stiff breeze taking these shots, I was getting very irritated at the way my camera strap kept catching the breeze, making the camera move ever so slightly on the tripod.  I really wanted to take the strap off the camera, but it’s a pain to try to unthread the strap connectors through the little slots on the camera body, and an even worse pain to try and put them back on after the shooting was over.  So I got on the Internet last night and ordered a new strap with quick-release buckles (Tamrac N46 in Red Flame….ooooohhh!).  The ends of the straps connect to the camera body, but the rest of the strap can be quickly released and removed from the strap-ends, leaving the camera on the tripod without a strap whipping around in the wind.  My new purchase shipped out today, so I should have it by this weekend!!

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