Living on the gorgeous California Central Coast brings many blessings, especially for wine lovers who are fortunate enough to reside in the North County area. In recent years Paso Robles and the so-called Templeton Gap region have become renowned for their abundance, variety, and quality of superb wines. The area is a haven for budding and experienced winemakers alike from all over the world, amply demonstrated by the numerous award-winning wines produced. This winter has brought us some much-needed rain along with several severe storms – a photographer’s delight.
During an excursion along rural Highway 46 West in Paso Robles, I waited for a storm to clear over some vineyards near Peachy Canyon. The late afternoon cloud formations were stunning, and formed a large thick swath of dark puffy clouds over the grapevines. This image is an HDR photograph generated by combining multiple RAW files taken at different shutter speeds, then merged and tonemapped in Photomatix software. The composite image was further processed in Lightroom 4 and onOne Software’s Perfect Effects, a favorite of mine. Hope you enjoy viewing the image as much as I did experiencing the scene.
Just a quick post this evening of an image taken with my new Nikon D800 during a private nighttime photo shoot of historic Chapel Hill in Shandon, California, with fellow photographer Kevin L. Cole and his wife Anne. Kevin is an expert night photographer who was gracious enough to assist me in my first attempt at shooting stars and star trails. Until my recent purchase of a high-end DSLR with a full-frame sensor, I did not have the capability to capture night shots of the stars due to noise issues and sensor overheating. To say this wonderful camera is an upgrade to my older Nikon with a cropped sensor is an understatement. With a full-frame sensor and 36MP to work with, it is a joy and I look forward to making very large prints for my studio.
This image is a single Camera RAW shot taken at ISO 200 with a 24mm lens at f4 with an exposure time of 150 seconds. There are both star points and star trails visible in the photograph, as with exposure times roughly exceeding 30 seconds (give or take), the rotation of the earth turns star points into trails (to the human eye). A bit of light painting was used on the chapel due to the foreground darkness. However, there was a waxing crescent moon directly behind us, which helped light the chapel until the moon turned orange and set over the surrounding hills. The image was processed in Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS5, and with onOne Software’s Perfect Effects.
For more information on and images of Chapel Hill, see my other posts Star Trails Over Chapel Hill, Photo Excursion to Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill. I am currently working on the timed sequence of shots I took using an intervalometer to capture circular star trails, which will require running a stacking script in Photoshop. I will post more images as I process them. We aimed our cameras at Polaris in order to render circular star trails. A compass is essential when planning these excursions, as well as the wonderful app TPE – The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Check the iTunes app store to purchase this indispensable utility. If you are interested in learning how to photograph the night sky, I highly recommend the wonderful eBook Shooting Stars: How to Photograph the Moon and Stars with your DSLR by Phil Hart, winner of the 2012 David Malin Astrophotography Award. Shooting Stars, a 129-page eBook with a printable field guide, will show you how to shoot your own stunning images of the moon and the stars with just your digital SLR and a tripod.