The past couple of days, I have spent rebuilding my computer. It’s been awhile and things started to go goofy. I guess the hamsters went on strike and the wheel of progress came to a halt. Now that it’s rebuilt, I wanted to throw it into fifth gear and let the clutch out to see how it would perform. I can say now that it’s over; it was worth all the effort. It’s like I got a new computer for free! I’m also going to try the thumbnails again. Some have said that they missed seeing the bigger photos, so I will post them that way. If you click on one of the photos, it will open a bigger version.

I wanted to do a different kind of post this time. This is a mix of HDR and black and white photography. About a year ago, my wife and I visited Hillsborough River State Park. This park is located near Tampa, Florida. Our visit was during the winter season and the mosquitoes were at bay. (I have been there in the summer when even the repellent, didn’t repel them! That was no fun…) This is a really nice state park, as it has all the amities that you could want. The main feature if you didn’t get it from the name is the river. This is a freshwater river and the water is crystal clear. It’s neat that you can see to the bottom; this also comes in handy with all of the alligators present in the area.

There is a “rapids” section of the river that draws a lot of attention. If you have ever been to Florida, a red flag should have just went up. Florida is about as hilly as a chocolate chip cookie. When I visited this area, I had high hopes seeing people going down the rapids in their kayaks and battling the rough waters. Well, I have to tell you, there was people “battling” the slow trickle of water over the rocks. With a slight push of their paddles, they were sailing off into the sunset. So being the determined sort, I wasn’t happy with the view I got from the overlook. Anyone can stand there and snap a picture. It was time to go get a photograph. I made my way down the path and over the bank (this is the part where my wife covers her face and shakes her head, and yells, “I don’t know who that weirdo is!”) and I set up my tripod and camera. It was the middle of the day, I was standing in the shade and the other side of the river was receiving full sun. I set up the camera and rattled off a few frames to capture what I needed.

 The Killer Rapids Of Florida

Here is what I did to this photo; first I made it an HDR. I have been playing around with some new software where it keeps it looking natural. I’m not really into all that “creative” stuff, but to each their own. After I got the file from the HDR application I opened it in Camera Raw and made some slight adjustments. Next, I opened it in Photoshop and I used my beloved Nik filters. I love the contrast filter that it has as it gets rid of any color cast and fixes the contrast all in one swoop. I also have control over the highlight and shadows to make sure that they don’t get clipped. This is a big time saver. After it looked decent in color, I used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to turn it into black and white. I enjoy the work from photographers like Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher. Their work is contrasty and has nice pop to it. That is the look that I’m going for here. Finally, I used Nik’s Sharpener Pro to sharpen the photo for the web. (I think I should go on the road for Nik)

I made my way back up to the path and got dusted off and started to scout the next scene. It wasn’t long and we came upon these old trees. The trunks really caught my eye and how they were part of the landscape. Here is another shot taken of the river, but the trees add a different kind of character.

 Lazy River On A Sunday Afternoon

If you are curious how big these trees are, here’s a photo that I used my wife to show the scale of these things. I told her that I would pay her a dollar if she would go inside the crevice. I got the “look” and she doesn’t do creepy crawly things so this was the best I could do. Since I was busy playing photographer, she got to carry the cooler with lunch and the backpack that held the Band-Aids. I guess she has been with me before!

 Our Next House

Before we ate lunch we came across this bridge that connected to another nature trail across the river. This being a nice cool day in Florida, it was a challenge to shoot a couple of frames without some kid running across. In the end, patience won and I got the shot.

 Bridge To Terabithia

So there you have it. If you are looking for something different to try, this might spark your interest. I see black and white making a come back and I think that there are some great photos waiting to be captured out there. All I recommend is to make them contrasy enough and don’t let them get muddy on you. Photoshop’s “Convert to Grayscale” function should be pulled from the program as far as I’m concerned.

Until Next Time…

Keep Your Glass Clean

Spencer

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