Oak Creek at West Fork

Whew, things seem to be going a little better this evening in the digital darkroom (or maybe I’m just not being so picky tonight).  I decided to concentrate on pictures from West Fork (trailhead in Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona) this evening, and give the aspens a rest for the time being.

I’m still practicing creating HDR’s using the new Photomatix V4, which has some more robust anti-ghosting functionality.  It’s actually coming in very handy on the shots from last weekend, giving me some extra tools to try and clean up the blur caused from the waving grasses and branches.  I know that if I spent a lot more time on each of these images (and if I actually knew what I was doing), they could be even better, but since I’m just learning from trial-and-error, I’m not too awfully disappointed in the way these have turned out.

This first shot was taken with the tripod sitting on a rock in the middle of the creek, and the camera about three feet above the surface of the water.  I wanted to get this lower perspective so that I would have more of a “flow” of the water. Photomatix did a good job with the de-ghosting of the leaves, but the Curves tool in Paintshop Pro is what really made this one pop, bringing out the detail in the darker part of the stream as well as the bright sunlit mountainside in the background:

West Fork - Running Water

This next shot was taken at a point where two streams meet. This past spring there was a lot of rainfall, so there is still quite a bit of debris in and alongside the creek. I liked the way these two white logs formed an “X” in the middle of the stream. In the background you can see a tree that has fallen across the creek as well. Once again, the Curves tool in Paintshop Pro allowed me to control the exposure in various parts of the image to where I was pretty well satisfied with it:

West Fork - X Marks the Spot

This last shot was taken in an area where a lot of downed trees had piled up during one of the spring floods. I really liked the way the fungus had grown on the trees (you can tell it obviously grew on this log AFTER it was down, because of the horizontal orientation). There was no problem with ghosting on this one, but there is a lot of detail in both the tree bark and the fungi that I wanted to capture. I think I got most of what I was after:

West Fork Fungi

So, a good night in the digital darkroom. Tomorrow, I’ll head back to the aspens again.

Downtown Phoenix – City Hall, the Orpheum and HFPC

This will probably be my last post of the shots of downtown Phoenix that I took last weekend, although I have a few more that I’ll play around with for my own enjoyment and practice. I spent a little more time on processing tonight, trying to get the best results for this shot:

Downtown Phoenix 013

This is Phoenix’s City Hall building.  On the afternoon that I took these pictures there was just enough breeze to cause the flags to be waving slightly.  When I combined the three bracketed images together in Photomatix, I checked the option to have it attempt to reduce ghosting, but there was still some noticeable ghosting around the flags when the image was processed.  I made an attempt to use layers in Paintshop Pro X3 to clean it up, and it didn’t turn out too badly as long as you don’t blow it up to 200% and really start looking for the evidence.  This is an area that I need a lot more practice in.  I just bought a book “PaintShop Photo Pro X3 for Photographers” by Ken McMahon, and I’m hoping to get some good instructions on how to use some of the advanced features of PSP to improve all my photographs, not just the HDR’s.

The next two shots were a little easier since they didn’t have anything waving around in front of them. 🙂

This is the Orpheum Theatre, which just happens to be right next to the City Hall building (that’s it in the background).  I really like the juxtaposition of the two entirely different styles of architecture in this shot:

Downtown Phoenix 012

And finally, this is the bell tower on the Historic First Presbyterian Church (yes, “Historic” is part of the church’s name).  This church just happens to be located next door to the shell of the First Baptist Church that I’ve featured in my last two posts.  However, this church is still active….in fact, as we were standing across the street setting up the tripod for pictures, one of the ministers invited us to their afternoon service:

Downtown Phoenix 011

So, this ends our photo tour of the architecture of downtown Phoenix, Arizona. At least until the next time I decide to spend a Sunday afternoon in the city!