Photo: Blizzard

Blizzard

It’s a blizzard! A snow day, at least.

This was a downpour of rain that started while the sun was still out. The sunshine reflected all across the newly fallen water in the parking lot, making it look like snow. I shot this car backing out of a parking space, at 132mm from about thirty feet away.

I made the water look like snow by over-exposing and adding contrast in Photoshop. I also converted to black and white. I didn’t even notice that Adobe Camera Raw 4.0 has a vignetting slider under “Lens Corrections,” but I’m using it now to darken the corners rather than burning in manually. It turned out nice here.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 28-135mm, 1/500, F5.6, 132mm, ISO100, 2008-11-13T14:07:11-05, 20081113-190711rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: The Pale House

The Pale House — a ghost house with dark clouds

Something about this house just doesn’t feel right. It’s got no color to it. Most things have color. The grass looks warm and inviting… but what’s with those dark clouds overhead? Such oddly shaped clouds too. Like a giant C in the sky.

This is a return to The Red-Brick House… but this time the house has no color at all. Only its surroundings have that privilege, and in the warmest tones. It could be a beautiful afternoon in the country, if not for the ghost house and scary clouds.

This was quite a scene to start; I hadn’t seen a cloud formation that ominous, and it was followed by lots of rain and lightning. Once the rain started pouring, the sky went mucky gray. All the tension disappeared. That happens in most storms.

Editing on this was substantial, because it involves almost everything you see. I shifted the white balance in Adobe Camera Raw to make everything yellow, before importing the image into Photoshop. I went over the house with a desaturation brush at 100%, burned the corners in repeatedly with my pen tablet, and burned that dark line across the sky. It was there to start, but I added the curve going up to the left and around just with the burn tool.

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/200, F5, 18mm, ISO100, 2008-07-28T16:45:44-04, 20080728-204544rxt

Location: 1832 Nelson Ave., Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7228

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: The Last Battle

The Last Battle — a twig vs. the incoming black clouds

The only remaining twig, fighting the last battle against the incoming storm clouds. All the other ones have been washed away, or struck by lightning or something. I ripped this plant life off a bush of some sort in our yard (it’s a jungle out there), because it has a nice shape and pattern of leaves. It fit the bright space in the sky well, so I held it up with one hand while snapping the shot with the other.

It was a bit bluish out; I found the image worked better in black and white. I added a lot of contrast to push the branch to black and the bright parts of the sky to near white, then darkened the dark clouds to add punch. It was late, so I under-exposed to gain a fast enough shutter speed, and because I knew I wouldn’t need shadow detail anyway. That’s why the original image is dark.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon PowerShot A620, 1/100, F2.8, 7.3mm, ISO100, 2007-05-13T19:56:32-04, 2007-05-13_23h56m32

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Ominesence

Ominesence — a stormy, ominous sky over the sea and city

Ominesence: the state or quality of being ominous. The real word is ominousness, but I made up this alternate. This is a river and city with dark clouds overhead. The right side is bright light and good weather, though it too is broached by darkness. I took this in a moving car crossing a bridge; you can see the railing at the bottom. Used a 1/250 second shutter speed to freeze the scene, though I had to go up to ISO800 because it was so dark out.

I added contrast, darkened the dark clouds and corners, and removed a lot of noise. There were lots of markers and pylons in the river which were bugging me. I cloned all of them out. Now it looks like it should.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/250, F1.8, 50mm, ISO800, 2008-06-26T17:44:30-04, 20080626-214430rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Flash in the Night

Flash in the Night — a bolt of lightning brightens the dark sky

A bolt of lightning flashes through the dark sky. This was from the storm during my vacation. My grandmother forbade me from going outside ( :neutral: ), so I shot this through the screen window. You can see the pattern of the window on the sky, though it’s out of focus. The blurred spots may have been water drops on the window. I snapped fifty photos, and was lucky enough to get this one as the lightning struck. I put some of my tips from Torrential Rain to good use.

I closed down all the way to F22 in aperture priority mode, yielding a 1.6 second shutter speed. I braced the camera against the window, and fired away. Before this, I set the exposure compensation to -2, so the lightning would not be too bright.

The source image looks brighter than it should. I purposely underexposed when shooting, so the lightning would not be too bright when it popped up. I shifted the colors to be more bluish, removed some dust spots, burned in the corners, and darkened a bit. That’s all the lightning needed!

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1.6″, F22, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-06-26T18:08:28-04, 20080626-220828rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Torrential Rain

After weeks of threatening skies that produced nothing, we’re finally getting some rain in Daytona Beach, Florida (Ormond Beach actually, but they’re close). I was drenched on the way to school yesterday, and we just had quite a cloudburst at my house. Here are two photos:

One thing that you’ll find when it’s raining a lot… is that it’s hard to get a good picture! First, it’s very dark out, so motion blur becomes a big problem. Second, you’ll take lots of photos where it looks like nothing is happening! (I always do.) Just a bit of fog or a gloomy sky, instead of the big raindrops and howling winds that your eyes see.

You can only really show the wind with a motion blur shot of trees, or if there’s a tornado or tons of mist flying about. You get photos with no rain because it takes a fast shutter speed to show it, which you can’t use in the dark normally (try upping the ISO sensitivity and using a smaller f number). But I have some other tips to capture the mood:

• Over-ride the auto-metering by stopping down a bit. When you want a dark scene, the camera doesn’t know and will make everything look bright and cheery. You have to fix that yourself.

• Show puddles, big puddles. Or the raindrops hitting those puddles. Use as fast a shutter speed you can, or a slow one showing the blur of turbulent water.

• Get a shot of raindrops falling. This works best if it’s still raining and the sun has come out, because there’s plenty of light and you can easily use a fast shutter speed, like 1/2000 of a second.

• Show raindrops on a window with a dark sky behind it, from inside your house or in the car.

• Stake out a spot and take shots of cars kicking up water, like my shot, Make Waves.

• Take shots before the rain starts, like I did with The Red-Brick House. Often, the sky is beautiful and ominous, but after the rain starts falling, it turns to a boring gray mush.

• Get closer. Even if it’s blurry, snap photos of rain sweeping off roofs or draining from gutters. You’ll capture the experience of torrential rain much better than just pointing your camera into the sky.

• When it’s blue and rainy out, your camera will “fix” this by making it look a normal, warm gray. Over-ride the white balance by using the “sunny” setting (not cloudy, as that’s too warm). You’ll get more interesting, unsettling blue tones, without them being excessive.

• Protect your camera! Put a plastic bag over it, then cut a hole for the lens if you need to. If you’re particularly wealthy, you can even buy a camera rain cover (there are lots of options).

• Go to the river or ocean and take shots of all the rain hitting the blue water, or the haze off in the distance. Watch out for lightning, though.

• If you’re going to photograph lightning, set up a tripod under a roof somewhere, shooting with a thirty second exposure. You’ll need to close down the aperture as far as you can, perhaps even using a filter to keep the light under control during the lengthy exposure. Don’t trust your camera; under-expose your photos. If any lightning does turn up, the camera won’t be expecting it, so the shot will turn into an over-exposed blob if you’re listening to the meter.

Now you know what to do. Just wait for some rain, and get out there.

Photo: The Red-Brick House

The Red-Brick House — black clouds threaten a lonely abode

A house of red bricks stands alone against an impending storm. This is my neighbor’s yard; the clouds formed into an ominous circle right before the rain. The phone pole was not optional, as I couldn’t compose the frame as such while excluding it, but I’ve come to like it; its crookedness keeps the level horizon from becoming boring. I made a decision in post-processing to not give color to anything except the red house, and a tiny bit of green to the grass, which gives punch, and makes this conceptual; the house is unique and alone. Hope you enjoy it; I don’t do many landscapes, but this one I’m proud of.

This was challenging to edit; all the elements were there to start, but needed to be perfected. I burned in the clouds, telephone pole, trees, and edges of the frame, then remapped the tones through curves in the Lab color-space, including the contrast and color channels. I had problems with the shadows remaining dark-red, but corrected them by desaturating everything but the house, grass, and trees in the center. I debated placing the colors as more yellow or blue, but found this compromise to be the most natural and compelling.

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/25, F3.5, 18mm, ISO400, 2008-02-26T17:55:09-05, 20080226-225509rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.