Tim Manske Photography: Blog https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog en-us Copyright (C) 2021 Tim Manske [email protected] (Tim Manske Photography) Wed, 27 Jan 2021 03:25:00 GMT Wed, 27 Jan 2021 03:25:00 GMT Planning, Execution, and Processing - Getting the Shot https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2021/1/planning-execution-and-processing As part of planning our family road trip over the Christmas and New Year's holidays to southern Utah, I wanted to spend some extra time in Capitol Reef National Park. The main reason for this is we were doing a similar trip in 2018 when the government shutdown closed some of the parks, Capitol Reef being one of them. So we only got to spend a half day there, which was enough to make us determined to come back again to see more of that park!

Knowing we'd be camping in Capitol Reef at the Fruita campground, right next to the Gifford barn, I wanted to plan for a night shot that included that barn. I knew the cliffs behind the barn were to its north-northwest, so I thought composing a star trails photo would be a really cool shot (to get a circle of stars, you need to be pointing north and include the North Star). I also wanted to use the setting moon to light the canyon walls behind the barn, instead of having them in silhouette. Seeing that we'd be there right before a full moon, timing was essential to have just part of the night in moonlight and the rest dark. Using the Photo Ephemeris app, I determined I'd have 1 or 2 nights in the EARLY morning to potentially get what I wanted. Checking the local weather, along with the solar and lunar rise/set times, I decided the morning of December 27 would be my best opportunity. The day before, I composed the shot and used some rocks to mark where to set up my tripod. Then I set my alarm for 4:30am so I could get some shots with the setting moonlight then more shots with a dark sky to get the star trails.

Everything that morning went exactly as planned. The sky was clear, the moon was low and shining on the canyon walls. I setup my intervalometer for 20 4-minute exposures. During the first few shots I light-painted the barn, using a "straw" color filter on the barn, field, and fence, and a "light blue" filter on the barn roof. I let the moonlight naturally light the canyon walls. After the moon set, the exposures continued for another hour or so to get the star trails.

Getting back home, the post-processing of the 20 images taken during the shoot began, and I soon realized I needed to process my image as if it were 2 separate photos - process the foreground, barn, and cliffs as one image, and process the stars and sky as another. The reason to do this was because the moon was still above the horizon in the first few shots, which blew out the sky, so I had to exclude those from my star trail shots or else I'd have a light blue sky. Also, I wanted the barn and cliffs to have a warm yellow-orange tone while the sky needed a cool blue tone. I combined/blended all the images as layers in Photoshop, then selectively erased the sky from the early (moon above horizon) shots. Once those were as I wanted them, I flattened the layers then finished off the tone, levels, and saturation in Lightroom.

All came together into what I consider a really cool shot, and one that was a lot of fun to work through, from planning to execution to processing!

Star trails over Gifford BarnStar trails over Gifford Barn

[email protected] (Tim Manske Photography) capitol reef gifford barn light painting star trails https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2021/1/planning-execution-and-processing Wed, 27 Jan 2021 03:24:47 GMT
Favorites of 2016 https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2016/12/favorites-of-2016 As 2016 comes to a close, I'd like to share with you what I'd consider my favorite photos of the year. I'll also give a description of each photo and maybe why I chose it as one of my best for the year. These are ordered by date taken, not by preference. I'd love for you to comment on them: which one is your favorite, what you like/dislike about each, or if you have any questions around them. I'll be happy to respond within the comments so all can see and provide their own perspective. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy my year-end review.


Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

Mabry Mill along the Blue Ridge Parkway

This was shot in January after a sustained cold period followed by a sizeable snowfall. The Parkway was impassable by even 4WD (at least mine) so I ended up walking the mile or so to the Mill. This was shot toward late afternoon which started to cast some shadows on the snowbank and highlight the zigzag patterns of melting and refreezing windblown snow on the left. I also liked capturing the reflection of the Mill in the partially melted pond. Although Mabry Mill has been shot thousands of times, I really like this shot for the above reasons. While there, I also learned of the "back way" to the Mill, so maybe this winter I might be able to get there a bit easier for more photo ops.


Upper Window Falls, Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina

A shot taken in February after another long cold snap. This is the upper section of Window Falls (you have to crawl through the Window to get to it). What I really like about this shot is the "wedding cake" tiered effect alongside the waterfall, the flow of the water from the falls to the foreground, and the buildup of ice on the left from water seeping through the ground and rocks.


Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

I wrote a separate blog about my visit to Death Valley in May. If I were to choose my favorite photo of the year, this would be it. Shot in 40+ mph winds, the sand blowing across the dunes added an effect that is hard to pick out or even describe. I'd probably compare it to how you'd see fog in a forest, but here it's the desert! The purple cliffs and mountains in the background were muted by cloud of sand hovering over the whole region.


Lightning and Star Trails, Death Valley National Park, California

I'd call this my "lucky accident" shot of the year. After leaving the sand dunes of the shot above this one, I drove out of the Valley to find a place to get a few hours of sleep and shoot some star trails and the Milky Way. Where I ended up was at an overlook called "Dante's View", which looked almost 6,000 feet down into the Valley. To my surprise and delight, the thunderstorm that chased me out of the dunes had settled in around Furnace Creek. Being in the desert, the sky above the storm was completely clear. I ended up taking several long exposures and blending them together to get the multiple lightning strikes of the storm combined with the star trails.

Pelicans of the Ballestas Islands, Paracas, Peru

My big trip this year was to Peru, so it's no surprise several of my "best" shots came from this trip. During an excursion out to the Ballestas Islands Natural Preserve, some of the islands were covered with thousands of pelicans. I was able to isolate this small group and contrast them against a non-distinct overcast sky.


Santa Catalina Monastery, Arequipa, Peru

This is an amazingly beautiful monastery approximately 450 years old, known for its stonework and colorful walls. While composing this shot, a nun happened to come out of a side corridor and add a personality and color to what I thought was an already great photo. She was the only nun I saw in the few hours I spent in the monastery, so I felt very fortunate and blessed to have captured this shot.


Colors of the Andes, Peru

While crossing over the Andes between Arequipa and Cusco, we stopped at a high pass with a spectacular view of the mountains. Some Peruvian blankets were spread out for sale, and I thought they added a nice splash of color to the browns and grays of the meadow and mountains.


Pacific Sunset, Lima, Peru

My last day in Peru ended with a beautiful sunset. I was walking along the cliffs overlooking the ocean in the Miraflores region of Lima. As the sun got lower on the horizon, the haze in the sky became a beautiful glow which was reflected onto the water. I found a palm tree whose branches created an ideal frame of the sun while still showing off the beauty in the sky and water.


Patterns of Autumn, Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina

The fall colors this year peaked later than usual. This shot was taken in mid-November. What I really like about this shot is not just the waves of color from red to green to yellow to orange then back to red, but also the strong vertical lines of the tree trunks contrasting against the mostly horizontal alignment of the leaves. The leaves were from smaller trees not included in the frame, which made this possible.


Canyon Light, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

I shot this from Pima Point on the South Rim at sunrise. What I really liked about this location and the shot was that I was able to capture the light reflecting off the Colorado River. The pattern of the river is a mirror of the shadows of the canyon walls that the river is flowing into. Combining the two highlights the power of the river as it meanders through the canyon.


So these are my favorites. I really hope you like them as well, and please give your comments on them. Have a wonderful New Year and 2017!

[email protected] (Tim Manske Photography) Andes Ballestas Islands Blue Ridge Parkway Death Valley Grand Canyon Hanging Rock State Park Lightning Mabry Mill Pelicans Peru Sand Dunes Santa Catalina Monastery Star Trails Waterfall https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2016/12/favorites-of-2016 Fri, 30 Dec 2016 20:38:42 GMT
Not what I expected https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2016/5/not-what-i-expected Last week I was out in Las Vegas for a conference, and had almost 24 hours between the conference conclusion and my scheduled flight. Seeing it was to be a new moon, and the Milky Way would be rising around midnight, I found it to be a perfect opportunity to rent a car for a day and run over to Death Valley for an evening photo shoot! I'd sort of planned out what I wanted to go for, staying around the Mesquite Flats sand dunes after sunset and shooting the Milky Way rising over the dunes. Well, the weather had a different set of plans! Driving down from Hells Gate I could see a huge cloud of sand hovering over the dunes. I knew I'd experience something either really cool or really bad. When I got to the dunes around 4:00 it was 104 degrees and WINDY!!! I thought, "well this will get rid of any footprints on the dunes" and took off for the location I'd scouted online, with photo gear, water, and some snacks. This turned out to be AMAZING! The winds blew beautiful lines in the dunes and softened the images into looking like watercolor paintings.


The longer I stayed, the windier it got. But what fun it was! Here's a video from where I was shooting from. I end up being about 20 feet from the camera and yelling, but you can't hear me!


As the afternoon turned into evening, more clouds rolled in, adding to the drama of the scene as well as making things even windier. At one point I was leaning pretty hard into the wind just to stand straight. But I kept shooting.

Maybe if I'd thought about what the sand could be doing to my camera, I wouldn't have had as much fun, but surprisingly my camera doesn't show any signs of being sandblasted for a few hours! I stayed through sunset, and even though the setting light was muted, I feel I still got some good shots out of it.

The winds finally died down somewhat, but it got even cloudier with some spits of rain drops. It was clear I wasn't going to get the starry night I was hoping for, at least from this location.




Seeing as my "sand dunes Milky Way" shot was looking very doubtful, I thought about where else I could go for a possible cool night shot. Since I'd never been to an overlook called Dante's View, I figured I'd go up there and see what that was like. So I headed up that direction and arrived there around 10pm, almost 6,000 feet directly above Badwater Basin.



To my surprise, the clouds had settled between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells and were putting on an amazing lightning display. At first I was in disbelief, then really glad I'd left the sand dunes (which seemed like they would've been right in the middle of all those lightning strikes). Then I started thinking, "I've got to start shooting this!"



After a few unimpressive shots of lightning without much else (remember it was a new moon), I realized the sky was perfectly clear above the clouds in the valley below me. With that, I got the idea of shooting star trails with the lightning in the valley. So, with the lights of Furnace Creek in the bottom of the viewfinder, I started shooting 30-second images continuously for around 30 minutes. Looking back on it, I might have done better setting my camera on "Bulb" and doing a series of 4-minute exposures, but it is what it is; one thing to think of at my next opportunity.



I ended up blending about 60 shots in Photoshop, and what I came back with was something very unusual and almost unrealistic, but also really cool! A frame-wide lightning storm over Furnace Creek, with star trails running down into the clouds!

The night wasn't over after this, however. Turning around, I found the MIlky Way rising behind me. So, just for fun, I had to get a shot, not really sure of how well it would turn out due to the light pollution from Death Valley Junction, about 10 miles away.

Finally, after a few hours of shooting, I'd pretty much covered what I wanted to catch. Plus I was freezing my butt off! It was 45 degrees and still windy, and I had planned to be down in the valley overnight with an expected low of 70, so all I had for insulation was a microfleece shirt, which doesn't help a whole lot in wind!

[email protected] (Tim Manske Photography) Death Valley Lightning Mesquite Flats Milky Way Sand Dunes Star Trails https://www.tmanskephoto.com/blog/2016/5/not-what-i-expected Wed, 11 May 2016 03:04:13 GMT