Tag Archives: photography tips

A Fata Morgana — Superior Mirage Optical Illusion


Today I present a bonus blog article on an optical illusion Ursula and I witnessed yesterday morning.

Back in my other life as an air traffic controller working in various Airport Traffic Control Towers (ATCT) over the better part of a 34-year career, I would occasionally be treated to a Fata Morgana. These superior mirage atmospheric optical phenomena most often revealed themselves in the cold months of winter right after sunrise, and usually lasted less than an hour or so on the rare occasions when they did appear.

Yesterday we were presented with an outstanding example of a Fata Morgana right from our own backyard here in El Paso. Looking to the west we have a great view of the West Portillo Mountains, including Mount Riley and Cox Peak, both pictured below. These mountains were the subject of yesterday’s marvelous Fata Morgana.

So, without further adieu, I present a magnificent example of a Fata Morgana. The first picture below is of Cox Peak (left) and Mount Riley as they normally appear. The two pictures beneath that were taken eight minutes apart approximately an hour and a half before the ‘normal’ photo was taken.

Cox Peak (left); Mount Riley (right) at 10:14 a.m.

Fata Morgana image taken at 8:39 a.m.

Fata Morgana image taken at 8:47 a.m.

 

 

Comments Off on A Fata Morgana — Superior Mirage Optical Illusion

Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker

El Paso Buried in Snow — Christmas 2015


View from Front Yard

View from Front Yard

I’ll continue our journey from Chile with a stop in Paracas, Peru, beginning next week.  But first I wanted to share with you our rare El Paso snowstorm, which started the day after Christmas and didn’t end until nearly noon the following day.  Friday’s blog will feature some favorite shots taken during and after this blizzard, and on Wednesday I’m going to feature some rather fun firearms.

Franklin Mountains in Snow

Franklin Mountains in Snow

You may recall that I posted some hints on how to photograph snow in “Honey, why is the snow so gray . . . and your face so dark?”  The trick, as you’ll recall, is primarily exposure compensation, and today’s photographs are no exception.  These shots, both during the storm and later in bright sun conditions, were taken with a compensation of +1.3 stops to compensate for how snow tricks the camera’s built-in exposure metering.

Neighbors across the Arroyo

Neighbors across the Arroyo

How did I come up with that number?  Experience, mostly.  But I also photographed in raw just to give myself maximum leeway in case I guessed wrong.  I didn’t.  The only post-processing necessary for these shots were tweaks in saturation, contrast, shadow control, color balance, and some cropping.  No tweaking of exposure was needed.

View from the Backyard

View from the Backyard

Fortunately up here on the mountain we get some great views.  Here’s a shot of mountains in neighboring New Mexico:

View of New Mexico Mountains

View of New Mexico Mountains

And here is another of the Franklin Mountains that tower over us:

Franklin Mountains

Franklin Mountains

As for color balance, the camera was set to auto-balance but I found I got better results with the snowstorm photos by switching that to “Cloudy” (5,500K) in post processing.  This removed some of the bluish tint without warming the snow too much.

Ocotillo on Ice

Ocotillo on Ice

In the backyard Eve got a strong dose of snow (statue by David Pearson, “Ascension of Eve“):

Ascension of Eve in Snow

Ascension of Eve in Snow

Fortunately that melted almost immediately following the breakup of the overcast and the welcome arrival of warming sun rays:

Eve Thawing

Eve Thawing

Our neighbors’ house got quite the dusting on the parapet of their beautiful Santa Fe-style home:

Neighbors' House

Neighbors’ House

Of course our own front balconies were not immune to accumulation:

Balcony View

Balcony View

And I’m sure the desert plants will enjoy the moisture as well:

Desert Plants

Desert Plants

3 Comments

Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker

Fun Photo Friday — David Williams at White Sands


The Face

The Face

Photographing the dazzling white gypsum crystals of White Sands is not simply a case of point-and-shoot.  That intense white will confuse your camera’s light sensor.  Unless you make adjustments for that, your “white” dunes will come out looking dingy gray from underexposure.  Approach photography at White Sands as you would approach bright daylight photography of snow — think “Exposure Compensation.”

Lonely Dune Climber

Lonely Dune Climber

The vast majority of the photographs I’ve posted this week were taken with exposure compensation between +.7 and +2.0, with most falling in at around +1.3.  And even then the JPEGs appeared washed, lacked contrast and detail, and lacked luster and punch on nearly every level.  Fortunately, I was also saving images in Raw.

The Yucca

The Yucca

Indeed, I wound up tossing nearly every original JPEG and converting the Raw files into JPEG format after working a little digital post-processing magic.  The results were vastly superior, and I was able to compensate for the Panasonic FZ1000’s inclination to internally over-process JPEGs and to remove the corner vignetting evident many of the shots.  The FZ1000 is a very good camera, but that 16x zoom lens does have its limitations.  I’m also not very impressed with the aforementioned internal JPEG processing.  Large swathes of monochromatic areas, such as sky, often come out looking blotchy rather than smooth and uniform.  My Canon G1 X is vastly superior in this regard.

The Garden

The Garden

For a rather lengthy, perhaps boring, but nicely detailed look at exposure compensation I refer you to my previous blog post on the subject:  Honey, Why is the Snow so Gray . . . and Your Face so Dark?”  Another post on the subject would be:  The Photo Clinic is Open.

Next week we take David Williams on a grand tour of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, and the picturesque and historic Mexican Canyon Train Trestle.  Until then I leave you with three last Fun Photo Friday images of White Sands:

Wooden Fence

Wooden Fence

Blowing in the Wind

Blowing in the Wind

Hiker in the Distance

Hiker in the Distance

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with her or her company.

1 Comment

Filed under Fun Photo Friday, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel