Some of our family and friends are acquainted with a family in Alabama which lost both their home and father in the recent outburst of tornadoes. A friend had the idea of putting on a couple of benefit concerts to raise funds for this family so over the last two weeks many people have put forth a lot of effort to organize and prepare for the events. More information at http://helpthelees.com.
There’s another concert tonight in Fredericksburg, TX. See the above link for more information.
Photographical stuff…The lighting was a challenge. On the one hand the stage was very well lit for an indoor venue. However, the dynamic range was huge and it was tough to strike a balance between the spotlight on the piano with the light on the singers. I really needed an aperture somewhere around f/8 or above to get the singers and piano in focus but I also wanted a decent shutter speed to avoid motion blur (you know how musicians sway and get all dramatic 🙂 ). I shot half in manual mode and half in aperture priority and tried to keep my shutter 1/125s or faster. An aperture of f/2.8 was good enough to barely keep the singers all in focus so I tried to stay around f/4. High ISO was a must…used ISO 4000 most of the night (the 5D mkii does a great job in that range). Processing was pretty much cropping, spot exposure adjustments in Lightroom, and noise reduction with Noiseware.
Sometimes simple tweaks result in amazing improvements to an image. The photo above was the result of putting an original exposure through a simple ‘S’ curves adjustment, adding a very small cyan, blue, and yellow saturation boost, sharpening theedges of the wispy clouds, and a spin through noise reduction in Noiseware. That’s it. The curves adjustment by itself brought out a ton of color, especially the touch of red on the bottom of the darkest clouds. This edit was all of 5 minutes and 4 minutes of that was just experimentation.
I was going to try tonemapping a single exposure as well as tonemapping three bracketed exposures but there was no need (atleast not for what I was after). The clouds were moving so fast that a 3-exposure HDR would have required the whole sky to be masked from one exposure anyway. I would have been left with a tonemapped mountainside. Instead, I opted for the mountain to be a silhouette in order to put the focus on the sky.
Compositionally the image is not all that great. However, I was at my widest setting (18mm at the time) and didn’t want to chop off any more blue sky. I have other exposures in which I placed the sunrise in a more ideal spot but I’m not sure I like the overall image any better. Maybe I’ll post one at a later time.
This photo was taken last year in Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, TX. During our week there we saw some of the most amazing cloud formations in the bluest of skies. The night skies are void of light pollution, providing beautiful views of the stars above. This of course is why the McDonald Observatory (part of the University of Texas) is located near Fort Davis. The weather is also very nice due to the high elevation (the town is about 5000′ and much of the park is higher). We were there in August and it got a touch warm in the hottest part of the day but it was very pleasant otherwise.
The original exposure is shown below for comparison.