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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West Fork Revisited

I revisited some of my shots from West Fork tonight, to see what I could do with some of the single images in Topaz Adjust. Here are the results (I really should remember to make notes of the presets and sliders that I used).

Be sure to click on the image to view large on black:

West Fork Revisited 001

West Fork Revisited 002

However, this next one just cried out to be processed as an HDR, with the shadowy details of the rock wall and the sunny highlights of the gold leaves. I just couldn’t resist running the bracketed series through Photomatix to produce this:

West Fork Revisited 003

Next stop with the Nikon will be back in North Mississippi as I travel home for Thanksgiving. Hoping to get some great shots while I’m there, and also hoping I can get through airport security without being forced to baggage-check my gear. Have a great holiday everyone!

More Red Rocks of Sedona

I’ve added ten more HDR images of the Sedona red rocks to my set on Flickr (Sedona – March 2010).  Once again, I just used Photomatix to create the HDR, and I used Tone Compression instead of Detail Enhancement to avoid the cartoonish effect.

Please zip on over to Flickr, take a look at the entire set and let me know what you think!  I have some additional photos that I’ll work on over the weekend, which are single exposures so they’re not HDR material.  I’m anxious to see how they turn out in comparison to these composite images.

My biggest frustration tonight was with my Internet connection….it kept going down right in the middle of my upload to Flickr.  My internal wireless network was fine–just no connection to the web.  I rebooted the modem and router twice, and it would work long enough to upload one or two images, then it would go down again.  I wound up calling Cox, and they said they could see errors on the modem but that I would need to have a technician come out to try and troubleshoot it.  They’re scheduled to be here tomorrow between 3 and 5 PM.

Of course, as soon as I got off the phone with them, I rebooted computer, modem and router one more time for good measure, and now everything seems fine.  Go figure.


Sedona Red Rocks at Late Afternoon

I’m finally getting back to the digital darkroom after taking a break for about a week.  The weekend before last was pretty intense, traveling between Phoenix, Sedona, Camp Verde and Arcosanti, and I had (have!) a ton of photos to process.  However, I also had a house that was in dire need of a good cleaning, so I spent this past weekend being a domestic goddess instead of spending time on my photography…not my first choice, but a necessary one.

So, now I’m back to processing more of the photos that I took that weekend, and tonight I’m working on the ones that I took on Highway 179 heading toward Sedona.  If you have never had the pleasure of taking this drive, especially in the late afternoon as the sun is low in the sky, you have no idea what you’re missing.  It is truly one of the most beautiful places on God’s earth, and I feel so fortunate to live within two hours driving distance from it.

Our first stop was at a deserted wooden bridge that spans Dry Beaver Creek.  Ordinarily this stream is just a trickle, at most, but with all the winter rains we’ve had, as well as the beginning of the snow melt, the stream was flowing higher than we had ever seen it.

Dry Beaver Creek, Sedona, AZ

From there, we stopped at every one of the scenic pullouts on the way to Sedona.  The trick to getting good shots of the red rocks is to be in the right place at the right time of day.  In the late afternoon, the sun setting in the west (to the left side of the highway) brings the red rocks in the east (on the right) to a gorgeous, jaw-dropping red glow, especially when there are dark thunderclouds in the distance.  There were no thunderclouds on this beautiful spring day, but the effect was magnificent regardless.

Red Rocks at Sundown

There’s just something about the juxtaposition of the green pine and juniper against the red rocks, and the rocks against the blue sky that makes you accept without question the existence of a Higher Power.  Standing at the base of the red cliffs, you can almost sense the spirits of those who lived and died here for thousands of years past.  It’s a place where you can truly get in touch with Mother Earth just by standing or sitting quietly and letting your senses absorb your surroundings.  To me, it’s a sacred place, even if it is overrun by tourists like myself. Ah, well…

Courthouse Rock, Sedona, AZ

I’ve started uploading this series of photos to Flickr.  They are available in the set named “Sedona – March 2010“.  So far, I’m working on the ones that I shot in bracketed series of three, and I’ve processed them as HDR’s using Photomatix.  I’m using the Tone Compression option instead of the Detail Enhancement option, because I think it produces a more realistic, less cartoonish result for landscapes.  So far I’ve not done any further processing on the HDR’s outside of Photomatix, they seem to suit my fancy as they are.

I’m hoping that before the end of the week, I’ll have all the photos done from last weekend, because I have a three-day weekend coming up and it’s time to do some shooting!