Maine Weather, Am I Right?

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This summer has been… inconsistent. Between bursts of heat, thunderstorms, torrential rain, and more, it has been nearly impossible to predict what the weather will do on any given day. For me, that means less hiking, fewer day trips, and a bit of a gloom that won’t seem to go away.

The photos above are of the same spot, taken twelve hours apart, and seem to be a good example of how the state has been treating us over the last month and a half.

Let’s Get RAW, a Lightroom Post-Processing Explanation: Swans Island Sunset

There are countless articles online espousing the virtues of shooting RAW, so I won’t go into too much detail around why to shoot RAW, but, rather, show one example where it saved my butt.

RAW has one major drawback drawback: each image is much, much larger than a .jpg (RAW out of the a7r ii sits pretty at around 84 MB per image.) The benefits, however, outweigh the cons:

  1. You get a true, lossless image. This means no pixel-binning and no compression, which could leave you with banding.
  2. If your composition is great but the image looks over or underexposed, there is hope with RAW! You get a far greater depth of exposure information.
  3. They are far more flexible, allowing for better grain and sharpness control.

I hope you enjoyed your hyper-abbreviated justification for shooting RAW! Now, onto the image above.

This sunset was captured on Swans Island off the coast of Bar Harbor, and the original image has its charms. I like the crispness of the tree line, the stillness of the water allowed for some pretty dramatic reflections, and the clouds gave a bit more life to the top and bottom of the frame.

However, I wanted a bit more from the image.

First off, the pic was overexposed. It didn’t capture any of the shoreline, which had some great Maine imagery. Second, the colors just did not capture what I was seeing at the time. I made sure to take notes after shooting, just in case this turned out to be true.

So, first things first: let’s fix the exposure. I jumped into Lightroom and the first thing I did was yank back the highlights, leaving the whites untouched. This gave me a more gradual transition from sky to sun.

Next, I pulled some of the shadows back, revealing the island, and giving a bit more definition to the cloud cover. Doing this revealed the houses and fishing boats off the shore, which, upon closer inspection, came out a bit soft. I went in, masked out the shore, and fiddled with the sharpness to get them a bit punchier, and then added grain to the whole image to make both look consistent.

I notched up the clarity a bit to to give everything a bit more punch, and tweaked the vibrance to make the colors pop a bit more.

Then, I went down to the oranges and yellows, and pushed them further toward red and orange, respectively. The Gatorade-yellow light that was captured in the original shot was not at all how it looked in person, so this was an easy creative leap to take.

I then jumped into the greens and bumped up their luminance a bit so that the trees would pop out more from the lake and skyline.

Finally, I added a bit of vignetting, just because I felt like it.

So there! One image saved from mediocrity. Now, go out there, change your camera from high-resolution JPEG to RAW, and save yourself some sunsets!

Summer Got My Post-Processing Gears A-Turning

I don’t know about you, but I need sunlight to get me kicked out of the winter funk. Here in Maine, we’d had about a solid month of pure rain, until last week. When the temperatures finally picked up, it was time to get back outside and exploring.

Lately, I’d been hung up on how my final images were looking, but I couldn’t figure out why. They were looking crisper than ever, thanks to a new rig, but they felt cold. Sterile. In an effort to bring a bit more life to my shots, I jumped into Lightroom and got to tweaking.

After a few hours, I had reached a point where, for the first time in quite a while, I was happy. First and foremost, I was missing film grain. In my relentless quest for clarity, I was making my photos look SUPER digital. I was smoothing out any semblance of graininess, while aiming to only shoot at ISO 100. It was great for smooth images, but lacked emotion.

That, paired with some tweaks to the color profile the a7r ii kicks out, and I got to the shots above.

Have tweaks, suggestions, or thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Why ME – Elephant Mountain B 52 Crash

In January of 1963, a B 52 Stratofortress crashed into the remote Maine woods during a test exercise. Turbulence stripped the 360,000 pound aircraft of its vertical stabilizer, causing the plane to plummet into the heavily forested area. Seven of the nine crew died, six of them without being able to eject from the plane. The seventh struck a tree and died instantly. Despite the bitterly cold winter, the pilot and the navigator were able to survive thanks to the tireless work of nearly 80 rescue workers, who fought their way through fifteen foot snow drifts to reach the crew.

Today, flags adorn the wreckage strewn throughout the forest. Some of it was recovered as salvage shortly after the crash, but it has since been returned as a memorial and museum to the event. In 2013, the pilot even returned for the 50th anniversary of the event, he himself having spent only three months recovering before returning to active duty.

Music: “Warmer” by Andy G Cohen

Sony A7r ii – Slog-2 60fps
Canon 85mm f/1.8
Sigma 30mm f/1.4