A Room With A View*

Before you have ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland, people will tell you, “Edinburgh is a beautiful city.”  You think to yourself, “why does everyone say that?” I wondered if I would come away from my trip saying the exact same words to others. I do.

My simple explanation is that the architecture is beautiful. As you walk the city, you may find yourself pausing to admire architecture right and left. Before we even left our hotel, I was enchanted with this view out our window.

#cathedral, #saintmarys, #stmarys, #architecture, #edinburgh, #scotland
View of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland from our room in the Hilton Grosvenor.

The curve of the street leading to the Cathedral in the West End makes lovely leading lines. This photograph was taken in late evening dusk, around 10pm.

*With apology to E. M. Forster for using the name of his book title.

The “Strenuous Hike”

When someone says “hike,” I immediately think “photoshoot,” and wonder which camera and lens to bring along. So, when a guide says, “strenuous hike,” I immediately become nervous about how heavy my equipment is, and whether I will need two hands for climbing. I also wonder about the huffing and puffing index!

On this 1.5 km hike to Hengifoss in eastern Iceland (not far from Seydisfjordur), I limited my load to the Nikon D800 and my 14-24mm lens to capture wide vistas. As I hiked and panted, I resisted the temptation to ask the downhill hikers how much longer it was.

#waterfall, #iceland, #basalt, #volcanic, #hike, #leadinglines, #rock
The rocky stream bed forms leading lines to the upper falls, the high point of our hike.

Do you see the pink lines in the cliff near the falls? They represent different volcanic eruptions over the years. This hike is a geologist’s dream.

Here an iPhone photo illustrates some detailed information on site:

IMG_7154

While midday is not the optimal time for photography, I was grateful for clear skies. Last week when another group hiked Hengifoss, they endured rain and fog. We enjoyed sights of long and wide vistas and cool temperatures. No complaints!

Beach watercolor

#florida, #Naples, #leadinglines, #beach, #horizon, #softcolors, #painting, #iphone, #palm, #symmetry
Digital processing made this photo look more like a watercolor.

It would be really cool if I were this good with watercolor painting. In truth, I make images that start as photographs, then apply my creativity with digital tools, and sometimes the end result looks very much like a watercolor. As a photographer, I look for dynamic compositions in nature. Walking on the Naples beach recently, I found this one.

The tidal pool formed a leading line to the horizon. Then, it seemed to bisect the horizon, revealing a green wedge on the land side and a blue wedge on the water side. A few interesting details offset the symmetry: the palm tree on the left side, and the tiny bird on the right. The watercolor effect smudged most of the detail in the image, and emphasized the compositional lines and soft colors. I added some finishing touches with dodging and burning in Photoshop — the digital equivalent of the old darkroom technique. I cropped the image square to eliminate what seemed like too much foreground.

“Et voila!” An iPhone photo transformed. Do you like it?

Sunshine helps

Many nature photographers prefer to shoot on cloudy days, when the dynamic range is not too wide for the camera to capture, and sharp shadows don’t create issues. In other words, the experienced photographer can be assured of capturing detail in both the highlights and the shadows.  But sunlight very early and very late in the day creates other nice opportunities. For example, in this photograph in Six Mile Cypress Swamp in Fort Myers, Forida, the shadows made good leading lines, as did the sunlight coming in from the upper right corner. All those lines converge in the low center of the frame. The blue sky made a vivid reflection in the still water, and the yellow sunlight in the background adds some warmth.

This time of year when we experience fewer bright sunny days, we appreciate what sunshine can do for our mood. I certainly feel more energetic and upbeat on a sunny day. How about you?

#cypress, #fern, #water, #blue, #green, #sunlight, #NikonD800
Cypress trunks and green ferns paint patterns, textures and brilliant color