Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures in HDR

But I see your true colors
shining through
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

--Cyndi Lauper

To hear Cyndi Lauper sing True Colors, click here.

Indian Paintbrush--finally an image I like!
HDR Image taken 7/18/09
Glacier National Park, Montana

I'm not a Ham Radio operator, nor do I claim to understand the passion that so many Ham operators seem to have for their activity. I can appreciate the service they give to the community, especially in times of peril, and I can see how it can be fun to talk with anyone or everyone while you're driving down the road. I do go into on-line chat rooms, after all, and I see little difference other than Ham Radio is much older as an activity.

That said, as many of you know from reading my blogs over the past year, I'm all but married (Thanks DOMA, for nothing) to a Ham operator, and some of our closest friends are also Hams. (Is that what they're called? I'm afraid to ask.) Yesterday our friend Mike drove us up to the Waterton Glacier Hamfest for 2009. We attended the 2008 get together as well, and we couldn't help but notice that a lot more people were driving to northern Montana this year than last. Could it be that gas is no longer over $4.00 a gallon?

A Hamfest like this is a chance for people to get together, swap stories and equipment, and even take in a few activities of mutual interest. Personally, once I've gone around the ring of motor homes and seen all the old equipment I care to see, I'd just as soon leave the chatting to those who share a passion. My passion is photography, so while Kevin and Mike chatted with fellow Hams, I headed out around the campground, camera, bag and tripod in hand.

Very Showy Aster
HDR Image Taken 7/18/09
Glacier National Park, Montana

You may remember my previous posts on High Density Range photographic imagery. If not, you can read about it here and here. One of the main things I have learned is that a tripod is more than a luxury, actually more of a necessity if you want your pictures to come out at all well. I've also learned that I never seem to have the right lens fitted to the camera, so this time I had both the tripod and the camera bag with all my lenses with me.

As in previous HDR work, I started out with flowers--the wildflowers growing around the campground. These were mainly Queen Anne's Lace, Daisies, Showy Asters, and Indian Paintbrush. I love paintbrush, but have never been able to get a decent photo of the plant. My shots have always looked as if they would make better impressionist paintings than crisp, bright photographs. This trip I worked a lot on shooting paintbrush. I like the image at the top of the page. Hope you do too.

HDR Image Taken 7/18/09
Glacier National Park, Montana

But where I had questioned HDR imagery before was in landscape photography. Since my earlier attempts, which frankly made me wonder what was the big deal with HDR, I've read that some photographers use HDR in landscape work because they feel it renders the image more life-like. The colors come out closer to what the eye sees. I therefore resolved to move away from macro shots of flowers, and try again with the landscape work. I'm pretty pleased with the way things turned out. As you can see here, I not only tried landscapes, but also some middle ground shots like the fence above, and even a stolen red pickup. (In case you're wondering, I'm putting together a photo book of red pickups I've seen around the country. They are "stolen" only in that I don't tell the owner what I'm doing nor do I ask permission.)

I did partake in one of the Hamfest activities. I suppose because people who are into one kind of gadget are also into others, there was a special workshop on GPS units and geocaching. As a novice geocacher with 150+ finds to my credit, I attended the workshop. Turns out it was very basic, intended for people who had little to no experience with geocaching, and I can't say I learned anything new. I did have several people ask me about my camera and photography, though, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Shortly after the geocaching workshop, we heard the chop-chop-chop of a helicopter overhead. Yes, it was one of those confounded black helicopters the conspiracy theorists love to complain about. After circling the area about three times, it landed in the field where I'd been taking photos earlier in the day. Ah--it was Homeland Security come to check up on us. We were, after all, practically on an international border and there were lots of non-US flags flying (Canada, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan were the ones I saw). Lots of US flags were flying as well, as befits an international gathering. I have no idea what the Customs and Border Protection folk were doing there, but in no time they had drawn a large crowd, many of whom climbed into the chopper.

Birch Grove
HDR Image Taken 7/18/09
Glacier National Park, Montana
If you choose to look at only one image full screen,
choose this one!

By this time, we were ready for lunch, and since the burger line was so long at the gathering, Mike, Kevin and I headed back toward West Glacier. I was happy to introduce Mike to the Isaac Walton Inn at Essex, Montana--a former Great Northern Railroad Hotel on the south edge of Glacier Park. We stopped there for lunch (and more photos). I had a great buffalo French dip. Kevin and Mike were more conventional in their choices, but we were all happy with our meal. I would give the Isaac Walton Inn my highest recommendation. The food is always good, the location is beautiful, and the rooms are reasonable. Give it a try next time you're in the area.

After lunch, we headed on to West Glacier, and then into the park itself. Stopping first at Apgar Village, I got some very nice pictures of the old Gearjammer Ford motorcoaches that still carry tourists up and over Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Highway. I also got some nice views of Lake McDonald both from Apgar Village and from the Lake McDonald Lodge.

We all had such a great time, that we decided that next weekend we'd head back to Glacier and this time drive all the way across the park on Going to the Sun. As I took no more images for HDR processing after leaving the hamfest, you won't see any of my Glacier Park pictures in this post. You can see them, however, on my Picasa on-line galleries. The HDR photos are all in the album Adventures in HDR and the images I've processed normally are in the 20090718 album.

As always, all links and photos can be viewed in a new window. I really recommend looking at the images I've shared on this post in a full screen mode--just double click on the image and it will open full screen in a new window. And while we're at it, what do you think of this landscape HDR shot?

Looking into Glacier National Park
HDR Image Taken 7/18/09

1 comment:

snaphappee said...

Great photos! The last one is my favorite because of the richness of the colors. The one of the birches is nice too - I love the fact that the trees behind are not lost in darkness. Great work!