Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘sun

The Philippines

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On December 7th Eve and I flew from Austin to Seattle, then changed planes for Taipei, and finally changed once more to get to Cebu City, whose metropolitan area has the second largest population in the Philippines. While much of our 19-day trip went for family matters on the island of Cebu, including a wedding, I’d brought along a reduced version of my usual photo kit and hoped to get in some nature photography.

One Philippine province Eve (and therefore I) had never visited was Palawan, and so on the morning of December 12th we flew to the island of Busuanga in the very northern part of Palawan. That afternoon we joined a tour of the main town, Coron. The last place the tour took us was the base of Mount Tapyas, whose heights we reached by climbing 724* steps (and by enduring sore leg muscles when we had to climb more steps the next day). I see on the internet that Mount Tapyas is known for its sunsets, and it didn’t let us down.

In the first photograph the sun was still so bright that I underexposed by 3, 4, and even 5 f/stops to keep from blowing out the highlights in the solar disk. By the time of the second picture, which came 13 minutes later, I got away with an underexposure of only 1.33 f/stops, though you’ll notice some flaring on the hills beneath the sun. Just chalk it up to my usual flair as a photographer.

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* When our tour guide told us that there are 724 steps my immediate reaction was to think that 7 and 24 happen to be the lengths of the legs of a right triangle with a hypotenuse of 25 (you can do the arithmetic to verify that 7 squared plus 24 squared equals 25 squared).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Again a bird and Niagara Falls without the falls

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On July 25th we stayed on the American side of Niagara Falls late enough to get a colorful sky while walking back to our car. And so ends the series of pictures from our visit to Niagara Falls.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Previously burned forest

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Intermittent fires are a part of the life cycle in forests. Here’s a view of previously burned woods in Glacier National Park, Montana, a year ago today. The smoke in the air came from fires currently burning, and days later authorities had to close parts of the park because of the danger. Below is an eerie, smokier scene from the previous day, also in Glacier National Park, showing Clements Mountain.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2018 at 4:40 AM

The difference that comes from underexposing by three f/stops

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When I stopped again at Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway on September 6th last year, in addition to taking the regularly exposed photographs you saw last time, I took a few that I underexposed by three f/stops* so I could include the sun without blowing out the pictures’ highlights. The technique allowed for some solar drama that would have been lacking in a conventional exposure. While that degree of underexposure robbed the water of its pretty blue, it partly compensated by allowing the sun to reflect some of its favored colors off the water’s surface. Also notice how clearly defined and regularly spaced the 10 rays of the sunstar are, thanks in part to a tiny aperture of f/22. Oh, the tricks we photographers resort to.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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* Cinematographers have long used that sort of underexposure in a process called day for night, whose purpose isn’t to control for the brightness of the sun but to simulate nighttime while filming in the convenience of daylight. One give-away when you watch a scene filmed that way is the presence of distinct shadows that shouldn’t be there at night.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2018 at 4:49 AM

Banff National Park’s famous Lake Louise late in the afternoon on September 8th

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Maybe you were beginning to wonder if you’d ever get to see a picture of the famous Lake Louise. Here’s one with a twin bonus: a halo of crepuscular rays above the mountains that border the lake, and, coming to meet you, the tinged reflection of the late light on the lake’s surface.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2017 at 4:54 AM

Strange clouds

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My introduction to Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park on September 3rd was the clouds you see here, which were strange in the way they apparently cast shadows on the sky. Have you ever heard of or seen anything casting a shadow on the sky? I guess the air held enough water vapor or other particles to create a faint medium on which shadows could register, but my reaction was still that I was seeing shadows where I’m not supposed to be able to see any.

Because the area near the sun was so bright in comparison to everything else, I underexposed by three f/stops to keep from blowing out the highlights. As a result, the badlands hills across the bottom of the photograph appear in silhouette and make the overall image more abstract. That’s fine by me.

UPDATE: Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics explained the scene this way: “The well defined clouds are casting their shadows onto a lower layer of haze or thin cloud. the lower cloud acts as a translucent screen and you view the shadows — and the upper cloud — through it.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2017 at 4:46 AM


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The smoky haze that accompanied us westward across Glacier National Park on August 30th stayed with us when we drove back the other way the next day. In some places the haze hovered above the remains of trees from a previous forest fire, reddening the sun and turning the world eerie.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2017 at 4:57 AM

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