Saturday, April 27, 2013

Halekala, the House built by the Sun

Haleakala Volcano in Maui
Sony A900, 50mm, f/11, 1/20s

On the peak of the Haleakala mountain in Maui, the Space Observation Centre is today borrowing the House built by the Sun, according to the Hawaiian tradition, and enjoying every day a spectacular sunset above the clouds. Two islands on the right in the middle of the ocean are also quietly taking part in the show. Again according to the legend, Māui's grandmother helped his grandson capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day. The day was very long indeed for us while climbing, by car of course, the twenty five miles of a very windy, winding and scenic road that took up to the 3000m on the top of the volcano. The Space Observation Centre is unique for its position that gives some of the clearest viewing conditions in the world. Sadly the Centre wasn't open to the public: don't think we didn't try.

We waited the for the sun to set completely to avoid flares, reduce the dynamic range of the scene, and to maximize the contrast in the beautiful cloudscape. To achieve the vast panoramic vista that we had in mind and include both the building on the left and the islands on the right, but still have plenty of details on the Observation Centre and the impressive clouds, we shot five images with a 50mm lens using a sturdy tripod and panning left to right, that we later stitched together in Photoshop to achieve the final panorama. The mountain at the bottom left and the clouds at the upper right form roughly two trapezoids that frame the scene in the middle to focus the attention on the clouds and the ocean beneath us. The final size of the image is more than 50mpx.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fishing in Maui

Fishing in Maui

We were not alone in our waiting for the sunset on this beautiful beach in Maui, after a long winding drive from Hana: two fishermen were going around their business pretty much ignoring our camera and the beautiful sunset behind them. Standing on the beach behind the tripod, it felt like we were literally transformed inside a magnificent painting: this is precisely what we aimed to recreate in post-processing, by blending two exposures (one for the sky and one for the foreground) and shifting the colors towards more saturated primaries, away from the more natural tones of the original scene. The rocks in the foreground direct the eye towards the two fishermen still minding their own business.

The highly irregular horizon on the left and the fisherman right across the horizon, where we wanted to keep good shadow detail,  prevented us from using a standard graduated filter to bring the sky exposure back in check, calling for manual luminosity blending workflow back at home. We finished up the blending mask manually to highlight the contour of the hawaiian and his fishnet. 

Sony A900, 24mm @f/11, 0.8s, +2/3EV