Palouse and Tilt-Shift Fun

It has been a busy summer for photography and work (non-photography-related job).  I have fallen behind terribly and aim to get caught up with a few posts before Thanksgiving.  I have two ready to go and will start off with this one.

Last year I started offering photo tours of the Palouse.  Though I haven’t lived in the area that long, I’ve definitely put in the time to learn the back roads, of which I’ve counted over 400 in Whitman County alone.  Though the client’s photographic productivity and enjoyment of the area is foremost, I also take my gear to occasionally capture a few frames.  This has allowed me to have fun using just one lens or trying a different lens at familiar spots. I own the 24 tilt-shift and have borrowed the 90 tilt-shift (both Canon). My use of these lenses have been for DOF, perspective correction, and panoramic stitching.  The 90mm lens did not get as much use and I had more of a learning curve so satisfactory shots were harder to come by; one will be shared in the next post.

The first image was taken with the 24mm. Both a downward tilt and downward shift were used along with a 2-stop reverse GND for the sky.  I also shifted upwards to capture enough of the sky; the filter had to be readjusted upon shifting so the gradation line was kept uniform at the horizon.

Palouse River Canyon Morning, August 2014

The second image was also taken with the 24mm. Again, both tilt and shift downward were used for DOF and perspective, respectively.

Old Barn and Clouds, Summer Morning

This image is from a favorite spot of mine. I really like the bowl created by the landscape. The 24mm coverage just barely gets the sweep of the field. I used shifting to correct perspective and capture a large amount of sky (one shot shifted down and one shot shifted up). I do not believe I tilted for DOF since the foreground distance was relatively far from the lens.

Wheat Bowl

Aneroid Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Fourth of July weekend was spent at Aneroid Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon.  Though I did not take a large amount of pictures, my goal was to use the 24mm TSE lens to capture some different views of the lake.  The two shots shared here are each composites of two images.

The first image was taken in the evening with the sun setting behind the mountain ridge in the frame.  I wanted to include the clear water of the lake and the rocks below.  I used a circular polarizer to mitigate the reflection on the lake.  I do not believe tilt was involved since the foreground was not very close to the lens.  I had forgotten my bubble level so had to eyeball the lake’s horizon.  Each image was shifted up/down and overlaps over 50% resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect ratio image.

Another aspect of this image I want to point out is the use of a circular polarizer.  Too often I read online people dismissing the need of a circular polarizer on a wide angle lens.  Yes, the effect it could have would not deepen the blues within a sky evenly.  However, I most enjoy the reflection-cutting ability polarizers have on water.  I could not see the bottom of the lake with my own eyes as well as the camera-lens-polarizer combination could.  For me, a polarizer on a wide angle lens makes complete sense when shooting water (or wet objects).

Aneroid Lake Evening

The second photo was taken in the morning.  Dawn light was nice but I have no regrets missing the light by a few minutes.  Just a few clouds; I’m ok with the result I got anyway.  This shot required tilting to maximize DOF.  I even took three different exposures with a plan of an HDR panoramic stitch.  However, the detail in the “normally” exposed image of the three files had enough detail to rescue the highlight data.  Again, this is two photos with 50%+ overlaps resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect rato.  Using the tilt-shift at the lake was a fun experience.

Aneroid lake Dawn

One last image to prove I explored beyond the lake.  This area sits above Aneroid Lake along the Tenderfoot Pass trail.

Along the Tenderfoot Pass Trail

Palouse Spring Storms

I love the springtime in the Palouse for many reasons:  goodbye to snow, hello to greens, clouds aplenty, and rain storms visiting frequently.  The bane of landscape photographers is clear skies.  Though a clear sunny day is definitely beautiful, it isn’t entirely picturesque when you desire to photograph landscapes.  The ever-changing springtime weather is very enjoyable.  The clouds could look menacing, just to clear up 30 minutes later with beautiful sunlight streaming through accentuating the escaping clouds.  Here is a sampling of a Palouse spring:

Sunset over Tekoa Mountain

Spring Growth and Fall Remnants

Winter Wheat Morning Dew

Union Flat Spring Afternoon

A Plan and Coincidence

The Plan:  Last week I planned to shoot sunrise primarily to capture the moon set.  The weather cooperated though it was a little windy.  The location decided upon worked well for this time of year due to the position of the moon.  If photographed later in the summer, the moon would be too far to the right of the frame and even completely outside of the frame come late June when Summer officially arrives.  This position can be attained again in Autumn, but I have not used The Photographers Emphemeris to determined the exact date.

The Coincidence:  With a location decided upon and photographing the moon set the goal, I set out early in the morning.  The convenient coincidence is the path of the Palouse River.  Though the river snakes it way through the scene, one might assume it continues to snake in a similar manner below the bottom of the frame, especially with how the river bends.  However, the path of the river that comes in from the lower left hand side is only there during the early spring run-off.  I revisited previous photos I had taken in Summer and found that portion of the river is indeed dry, all but for a tiny pool.  The river actually runs in from the left side of the frame and makes a 90 degree turn, resulting in the meandering seen here.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome, especially learning of the coincidence of the river flow aiding my pre-planned photographic idea.

Palouse River Moonset, Spring

Technical Details:  This photograph is the result of nine different exposures but 12 total files.  Three of the darkest exposures taken were further decreased by -2 exposure compensation in ACR.  The resulting 12 files were stitched, of which each image was a combination of four images (three HDR images of four files each were used) to capture highlight and shadow detail (4×3).  In short, it is a multi-stitch panorama HDR image.  The resulting stitch worked best as a 4×5 aspect ratio instead of 2×3; I had too much overlap on my panorama images.

Winter Ends…I Hope

The 10-day forecast shows highs in the low 50s; it appears Spring is near.  Though the Inland Northwest saw a brief break in January from winter weather — especially here in the Palouse with a lengthy inversion — snow and cold came back with a vengeance in February.  I’ve shared a few photos already but here are the last three to share from the snowy month of February 2014.

Fencline and Snowy Hills

Field Road Drifts

Palouse Afternoon Light – Winter