Midgley Bridge in Sedona

Continuing my series of images from our last visit to Sedona, Arizona:

If you leave Sedona heading north on Highway 89A, you travel through Oak Creek Canyon, some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.  This time of year the canyon has a more stark look, with the trees still sporting their bare winter branches.  But that just allows a more unobstructed view of the magnificent red rock canyon walls.  The Oak Creek area is worth visiting at any time of the year.

Just north of Sedona is the Midgley Bridge that spans part of the canyon.  Below the bridge you can see Oak Creek winding along the canyon floor.  The small parking lot on the north end of the bridge is the location of several popular hiking trails, one of which is the Huckaby Trail that leads you down to the creek from the bridge.

We wound up taking the Huckaby Trail all the way down to the creek where I got some great shots of the bridge from a different angle. I’ll be working on processing those, and maybe I’ll share a few of those if they turn out halfway decent.

This is a view of the bridge from the top of the Huckaby Trail.  In all the years we’ve been going to Sedona, I had never taken this particular shot…not sure why, but since I’ve started doing HDR, I knew I’d have to go back someday and get this image:

Midgley Bridge in Sedona

This HDR was created from five hand-held bracketed photos, taken with my Nikon D700 and the 28-300mm lens. I processed the raw files in Photomatix, and I loved the way that the bridge and the canyon walls turned out. But the sky was badly pixelated–not just noise, but actual square pixels. Topaz DeNoise did nothing to help it.

So I wound up playing around with layers and selections in PaintShop Photo Pro X3, and layered in the sky from one of the brackets. It was kind of tricky with the sky being exposed between the rafters under the bridge, and I probably should have spent more time refining my selections, but overall I don’t think it turned out too badly.

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Mill Avenue Bridge in Pastel

This is another shot from our photowalk last Saturday morning.  Just after the blue hour faded away, the pastel colors bloomed.  I love the quiet, peaceful Zen of this shot.  Fortunately the lights on the bridge were still on, so I got some nice reflections in the water.

Mill Avenue Bridge in Pastel

This is an HDR from three bracketed images.  I cropped a little off the bottom to balance the composition a little better.  I used Topaz Adjust to add just a little bit of detail to the bridge, and I used Topaz DeNoise at the max setting to smooth everything out to look a little closer to what I saw that morning.  I’ll admit I did juice up the saturation a little…okay, a lot…but the colors had to have been there in order to be juiced up, right??

I wonder just how many ways there are to shoot pictures of the Mill Avenue Bridge??

I have a new Facebook page, ZannWalker Photography, that I hope you’ll visit and “Like”.  I’ll be using that page to post links and tidbits of all kinds of photography-related stuff that I personally find interesting.  Hopefully you will to.  So come on over and see me on Facebook!

Mill Avenue Bridge at the Blue Hour

To me, the “blue hour” is the most beautiful part of the day for shooting architectural features with lights, especially if they’re reflecting off the water.  The blue hour is that period of twilight each day between full darkness and sunlight, when you can still see stars but there’s just a hint of light in the atmosphere.  Many amateur photographers (myself included until I learned better) will take hundreds of shots of sunrises or sunsets, but never extend their shooting time into that magic hour when the sky turns a deep indigo.

Last Saturday on our photowalk in Tempe, we were fortunate enough to be at Tempe Town Lake before the blue hour started, so we had plenty of time to find our best angles for shooting.  Here’s one of my favorites from the morning’s walk….the east Mill Avenue Bridge.  There are two parallel bridges that carry vehicular traffic over the lake, one running inbound and one running outbound.  For this shot, I was between the two bridges, facing east.

Mill Avenue Bridge East

I actually took three bracketed shots here, but I chose to only process one of the images, the one that was slightly under-exposed. I used Topaz Detail to get a little more texture in the bridge, and then used Topaz DeNoise to clean up the artifacts. A little tweaking with the Curves took and a little final sharpening was all it took.

Compare this shot to the one that I took a few minutes later after I walked further east and then turned around shot both bridges.  The blue hour doesn’t last long, so be prepared to capture it before it fades away!

The Payoff for Getting Up Early

Several of my photographer buddies from work decided to do an early morning photowalk in Tempe, Arizona this past Saturday morning.  The plan was to meet at the Starbucks on Mill Avenue between 6:00 and 6:15 AM.  Since it’s a 35 minute drive for me to get there, I had to get up at an ungodly hour (for a Saturday).  It was so tempting to just bail on the guys, but I thought it would be a great chance to compare notes with other non-professionals, plus get some good sunrise shots on Tempe Town Lake.

There were four of us (not too many, not too few), and we had a great time exploring the area on the south side of the Lake from before dawn until after the sun rose.  I’ll be posting more shots from our photowalk, but I’ll start with this one:

Tempe Town Lake Just Before Dawn

To the right is the Mill Avenue bridge which carries vehicle traffic. To the left you can see the light trails created from the passing of the light rail train as it traveled over the Lake. The boats are just waiting for the sun to come up to start taking passengers.

You can see more shots from our photowalk in the set that I’ve posted on Flickr, called Tempe Photowalk 2011.01.15. I’ve just started processing, so more images will be added to the set soon. I’ll be posting a few more on this blog as well.

This was my first photowalk, and I’d like to thank Ed Brice for organizing things for us, and Adam Schmid and Kurt Neurauter for lots of great tips and good humor. I had a blast and look forward to more of these excursions!