This probably is the best photo from my recent visit to the US. I probably have mentioned this before, but let me say it again; The Grand Canyon was always at the top of my bucket list and the opportunity to cross it off the list was something truly wonderful. I had known about it ever since I was a kid, and loved just about everything about it from how it was formed to how old it is to how truly spectacular it is. In short, I know a lot about it and I knew what to expect. Yet, the first time I stood there at the edge of the South Rim taking in the marvelous sight in front of me, I was speechless.
That was the first day, of which the night I and Looney spent in the Yavapai Lodge inside the National Park. The next morning we gathered our stuff and headed to the Bright Angel Trek and started descending to the canyon hoping to go as far as the time would allow us: we were to return to the Bright Angel Lodge around 3 PM. Since it had snowed a few days ago the trek was extremely slippery, and we didn’t have appropriate gear, so the descent was a slow going. Yet it was fantastic – we both love hiking – and less than 30 minutes into the trek you are almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. Everything you see all around you is the canyon, and it’s a sight that’s truly worth remembering. About two hours into the trek we had to turn back, and before heading back I set the tripod (oh yes, I did indeed carry the damn things despite it’s weight) and shot a few snaps of which this turned out to be the best. I love the way it captures the serene beauty of faraway canyon, the rugged terrain of nearby rocks and the lovely pale sky that accommodates all that into one.
Technical details, this is again 3 bracketed shots (it’s a pity the D600 only allows you 3 shots) at EV0 +/- 2, merged in Photomatix 5. As I’ve been doing recently, again I produced 3 separate outputs from Photomatix, one concentrated on the faraway canyon, another on close-by land and the final on sky. I feel this gives much better results that trying to incorporate everything into one Photomatix output. Afterwards I brushed up a bit in Nix before cleaning everything up in Noiseware. Overall, I feel this is a pretty decent job, a photo that I truly love.
During my recent trip to the USA I was in Washington DC with a bunch of my friends. The daytime was spent catching up with the old buddies and going to a few museums around, and in any case I wanted to wait till the night fall to get a snap of few landmarks around. Which led to my friends’ jokes that when all the photographers want more light this guys wants less of it. But jokes aside, I was confident that night scenes like this with the advantage of long exposure at my disposal, could turn into far more exciting photos than day time ones. So we waited till the nightfall and it was nice of my friend Danushka to drive me around DC till then. Finally we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial and I was in for a surprise: the place was absolutely deserted! Only then did I realized that in that cold weather nobody was crazy as I was to wandering around freezing to the bone, but on the plus side, how many opportunities do you get to have one of the most famous landmarks in the whole world completely to yourself like this?
The year end vacation was a pretty great one whichever way you look at it. Finally I got to cross of the bucket list my long overdue trip to the United States, got to meet up with Looney after such a long time, not to mention a bunch of university batch mates who live in and around Washington DC. While in DC I got to go and see a few museums and the like, and after sending the ladies home I headed out with Danushka again, this time around with all the camera gear in hand. It was unusually cold and the chilling wind made things worse, so much so that pretty soon we were frozen to the bone.
Still it was all worth it; we walked around the huge ground in front of The White House where we came upon this magnificent Christmas tree set up by them. It was around nightfall so the lights were pretty lovely and lots of people were gathering around to see this lovely sight despite the cold. Indeed it was a great opportunity for an HDR so I didn’t miss out.
In the technical front, this is 3 bracketed shots (EV0 +/- 2) merged together in Photomatix, then a bit heavy lifting inside Lightroom and Nix before as customary cleaning up noise in Noiseware. The contrast of the sparkling tree and the background was not easy to pull off, so I made three versions from Photomatix, one focusing on the tree, the second on the foreground the third on sky. Merging them in Photoshop gave good results although there is indeed room for improvement.