We woke up early our first day at Frisco and headed to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to get there before the crowds and the heat. We arrived and got our ticket to climb the 256 steps to the top. My view from the top is this week’s Wordless Wednesday, so be sure to come back to see it.
Later that evening, we came back for a night sky ranger talk on the beach. We used our experience shooting the night sky the night before and put it to use with the famous lighthouse as the foreground.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has an interesting history. The original Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1803 but was too short to warn passing ships of the nearby Diamond Shoals. In the 1850s, the lighthouse was added onto, making it 150 feet tall. But, by the 1860s, the lighthouse was in dire need of repairs so the current lighthouse was constructed and was finally lit in 1870. In 1935, the lighthouse was decommissioned due to beach erosion and replaced with a skeletal steel tower. The lighthouse was then transferred to the National Park Service and in 1999 the lighthouse was moved inland to its current location to protect it from ongoing beach erosion (NPS).
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After visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial, we made our way to Frisco Campground, our home for the next two nights. This was our favorite campground of the trip, full of dunes and secluded spots. Since it was the middle of the week, there weren’t a lot of other campers, so we chose a spot at the top of a dune with a view.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has applied to be a international dark sky park which means that it has a lack of ambient light nearby and is great for stargazing, and in our case, astro-photography. With our D3100s, we’ve never attempted astro photography, but we rented a D7200 for this trip and we had to take advantage of this combination! It was a fun learning experience! This shot was taken at our campsite at Frisco.
To learn more about Cape Hatteras National Seashore, visit the National Park Service. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
From the moment I knew we were going to stay at Straits State Park in St. Ignace, and that we would have a campsite right on the water, I knew that I wanted to take a photo of my illuminated tent with the Mackinac Bridge in the background. This post will walk through the process I took to come out with this image.
I took the photo during late blue hour because I wanted a relatively even exposure between the lights on the bridge and the illuminated tent. I considered using my speedlight in the tent, and that may have yielded a better illumination, but in the end I decided to use a few LED flashlights, as I didn’t want to be obnoxious in the campsite with a flashing tent. I walked around the site to get the best composition, and then set up my tripod.
It would be very easy to get all of this (and more) in frame with a lens on the wider end of the spectrum. This was my first instinct; however, my first peek in the viewfinder reminded me of a very real issue: when shooting below approximately 50 mm, background objects appear increasingly smaller as compared to how they are viewed by the human eye. In other words, at 18mm, everything is in frame, but there is a huge tent and a tiny bridge. This is no good.
The solution to this problem is to go telephoto. Above 50mm or so, objects in the background appear larger than they do to the human eye, and the greater the focal length, the closer one will get to a point where background and foreground are nearly identical in perceived size.
The telephoto presents a second issue though, and that is that I could not back up far enough to get everything in frame. We have a technological solution to this though, and a relatively easy one to execute since I was on a tripod. I started on the left and took an exposure, then I panned until I had about 2/3 of the frame as new stuff and I took another exposure. I repeated this process until I had everything covered, with a decent amount on either side in case I had to crop due to my technique not being perfect.
My exposures were at f/11, ISO 400, for 30 seconds.
The Lightroom Editing:
The first step was to stitch everything together, which is easily accomplished in Lightroom. Then I cropped, and made simple exposure and contrast adjustments, as well as some color corrections.
The Photoshop Edit:
This was the time consuming bit of the edit. I’m just going to list everything that I did.
- Using content aware fill, I removed the branding from the tent
- Using luminosity masks, I did the following
- Corrected some exposure issues in the bridge and water
- Brushed noise reduction into the shadows
- Using a high pass filter, cloned and emphasized texture in the tent
- Using the camera raw filter, I added vignette and other minor finishing touches
So that’s how I got the shot. It’s not perfect, but I think it tells a great story and I learned a lot. I am confident that the next time I am in this kind of situation I can come out with something even better.
June 26, 2016
I have just returned from my Epic Michigan Road Trip and I am excited to begin recapping my trip with you! It was a long trip and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to organize my posts, but let me give you a brief overview of my trip! We camped this trip after and setting up and taking down camp 8 times, we can now do it so efficiently; its awesome! I can’t wait to go camping again!
Day 1: Hartwick Pines Campground
Days 2 & 3: Straits State Park, visiting Mackinac Island
Days 4 & 5: McLain State Park, visiting the Keewenaw
Day 5: Bay Furnace Campground, visiting Munising
Day 6: Aune Osborne Campground, visiting Sault Ste. Marie
Day 7: Hoeft State Park, visiting the Lake Huron Coast
Day 8: Rifle River Recreation Area
I want to give my review of Hartwick Pines Campground now because we got in late and left early so I don’t have a photo of it, but I don’t want to neglect it. I had visited Hartwick Pines once before but I had never been to the campground. Hartwick Pines is a large state park located off of I-75 in Grayling, Michigan. It features the largest old growth White Pine forest in the lower peninsula. One of the biggest draws to the park is the logging museum. The campground is small and we got the last available site for Friday night. I was pleasantly surprised that the site was secluded, wooded, and quiet (until the guys in the site next to us came back at 1 am, but I don’t think that’s indicative of the park). Of all the parks we stayed at, they had the nicest, most updated bathroom facilities. I would highly recommend this campground to anyone and I have a feeling we will be back for a longer stay!
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To plan your visit to Hartwick Pines, visit the Michigan DNR.
Today’s picture is of the Zehnder’s Wooden Bridge (Holz Brücke) over the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
For most who know Frankenmuth, they think of it as a corny little town between Flint and Saginaw that is known for a humongous Christmas store, chicken dinners, and all sorts of Bavarian type celebrations and touristy shops.
For Ashleigh and I, Frankemuth is that, but also has a deeper, less kitschy meaning.
Frankenmuth (meaning “courage of the Franconians”) was founded in 1845 as a Lutheran mission to the Native Americans in the Chippewa Tribe. These missionaries founded St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church, the church at which Ashleigh and I were married.
So you see, Frankenmuth, for all of its crazy touristy identity, has historical import and authenticity. The chicken, cheese, fudge, and river boats may be products of tourism, but nevertheless, Frankenmuth is real.
About the Photo:
I took this photo at 18 mm, f/3.5, ISO 800. Honestly, there’s not much to say here; this was pretty much straight out of camera after I worked the angles a bit to get the right shot. I did do minimal processing in Lightroom including some color correction.
Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
January 29, 2016
This past weekend was the big parade weekend around the country. I braved the cold and drizzling rain to check out Howell’s Fantasy of Lights parade. This is a nighttime parade and all the floats are aglow with lights! Even the marching bands deck themselves out with lights. Of course, Santa comes to town at the end of the parade, ringing in the Christmas season! I love how the lights on the firetruck combined with all the strands of lights decorating it make this photo so red! I have to agree that this truck really embodies the Spirit of Christmas!
Shooting this parade was really a learning experience for me. I brought my 50mm f/1.8 because its the fastest lens I have, but for a lot of the images, I wasn’t able to freeze the motion like I wanted. I kept my ISO at 1600 so I could’ve upped that to 3200 but I was worried about the noise. I think next time, I might bring a monpod and see if that helps.
If you have any teachers in your life, you may have heard that this past week was both Halloween and a full moon. If this means nothing to you, you are not a teacher.
I have been meaning to visit Highland Recreation Area for some time now. I attempted last weekend to try to capture the fall colors but made it just in time for sunset. I shouldn’t complain because the sunset was fabulous and I did manage to capture this beautiful full moon. I definitely want to get back there and explore more in the light of day!
This was my first attempt at a moon shot and I think it turned out pretty good. I used my longest focal length (200 mm) and a tripod, although at that focal length the camera moved so much I realized I need a sturdier one. Even at 200 mm, I had to crop in a bit to get rid of a lot of empty sky.
When I talk about places in Michigan full of things to see and do, Reed City rarely makes the list. Reed City is a city of crossroads. US 131 intersects with US 10 in Reed City. Two of the states premier Rail-to-Trails, The White Pine Trail and the Pere Marquette Trail also intersect in town. This makes Reed City a destination for trail bikers and snowmobilers.
I recently heard about a photo technique called the starburst effect. For photographers, you’ll need a tripod and a camera set to a small aperture (read, higher number: F18, F20…). So, when I saw the lights, I had to try it out and I like what I got!