For some time now we have been taking Lucy, our yellow lab, out along a levee in the evenings for her evening walk. The levy follows the pathway of the San Joaquin River here, close to the Turtle Beach RV & Campground Resort near Manteca, CA, where we’re living in our fifth wheel. Each evening as we’ve done that, I’ve thought to myself, “I wish I’d brought my camera” as the sun slid down into the Pacific Ocean, about 60 miles or so west (as the crow flies). Well, last night I finally took it with me.
Turns out, I’m glad I did. I’ve been cooped up since my neck surgery last Thursday and haven’t been able to shoot pictures of anything. It’s not that my fingers aren’t working well enough to push the shutter button (they are), but I am in a hard neck brace right now and I can’t drive for another 5 weeks at least, I can’t lift more than a gallon of milk, and I can’t tip my head one way or another (either front, back or to the side) for fear of causing the fusion to not heal properly. I can’t bend over, either. So, it makes getting to a location to take pictures a troublesome proposition…and once there, the angles from which I can shoot are limited.
So, since I can’t do those things, I decided I’d take the camera last night because I was going crazy from not taking any pictures for a while!!! Here’s one of the results.
This is an HDR (high dynamic range) image due to the high variation of light in the image. The water which was reflecting the sky was still rather bright, and the sky was somewhat bright, too. But if I’d just taken a regular picture while metering off the sky or water, the foreground of the image would have been WAY too dark – pretty much solid black. If I focused on the foreground, the sky and water would have been WAY too bright. So, HDR was the best solution. I used the high speed capability of the Canon EOS 7D that I have (7 frames per second) and shot three images virtually instantaneously. One was set for 2 complete exposure values too dark (which worked well for the water and some of the sky), one for what the camera thought was right for where I was metering the picture, and one that was set for 2 complete exposure values too bright (that’s how the grass in the foreground was “lit up” – from the third exposure). Then, using Photomatix Pro’s HDR image processing software, I combined the three images into one and the result is what you see.
HDR images can be garish and “in your face”, or they can be more reflective of what the human eye really sees than a single exposure because the human eye can differentiate and “see” a much wider range of light than camera sensors or film can detect. Even HDR can’t begin to approach what the miraculous human eye can distinguish in gradations of light, but it’s a great step forward!
Many people make fun of Manteca…thinking it’s a rather ugly place. I guess this just goes to show us that in even the ugliest places (and in “ugly” people), there is some beauty to be found if we just wait long enough and look hard enough.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1513, Pope Julius II died after a 10-year reign. History remembers him as a supreme patron of the arts for commissioning Bramante to design the new St. Peter’s basilica, Michelangelo to execute the Sistine Chapel frescoes, and Raphael to decorate his private apartments.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Albert Finney turned down the role of Lawrence in David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) because it would have required him to sign a 5-year contract. The part went to newcomer Peter O’Toole, who had not done a major film before. O’Toole’s performance catapulted him to international fame.