Pecking at things does not work

A little over a month ago I was in Alice Springs for a holiday. Funny how it seems so long ago! Within my 3.5 full days in Alice, I took 3800 photographs. I’ve uploaded around about 100 of them to flickr.

One photograph in 38 might sound a low success ratio for photos, but a lot of those shots were from my Uluru / Kata Tjuta trip. I bought a monopod in Adelaide and I used it to take a lot of bracketed exposures. I wanted to try and lift out the texture of the rock and see what would happen. Also, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to photograph these spots so it’s worth using up some disk space!

Processing 3800 photographs is daunting. My usual workflow is to do a quick pass giving everything worth a further look (in focus, etc) a ‘1*’ rating. I then go through and decide what’s worth actually processing. I then go and fix white balance, straighten, crop, fix the contrast, … etc etc.

Complicating things was the HDR stuff. I found a good workflow was to create Aperture ‘albums’ for each set of exposures that might form one HDR photograph, then export those into a directory structure. I used Luminance HDR, which is free software. It can give great results, but lacks in documentation and the workflow is tedious. You end up repeatedly waiting several minutes for a set of photographs to import and align, then clicking ‘ok’ to confirm a trivial dialog. If I get time I might look at those issues, it could use a decent batch processing mode.

Long story short, I ended up stuck. Spending a couple of hours now-and-then on this got me nowhere, as I’d just dwell over the same decisions without making any firm choices. Yesterday I decided to stay up all night and get it done.

I’m really happy with the results. Here’s some samples, click for the full photo sets.

Long-nosed Water Dragon, Amphibolurus longirostris

Long-nosed Water Dragon, Todd River, Alice Springs. I only spotted this critter because it made a noise, otherwise I’d have walked within a metre without noticing it. We eyed each other off, I got a photograph, then it lept up a tree. Startling!

Western Bowerbird

This is a Western Bowerbird. Thanks to Mr Cake for the tip-off, seen at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Look at how camouflaged this bird is – even its eyes match the general pattern of its head markings. The pink is an amazing colour to see on an animal, absolutely vivid. The last two photographs are from set Alice Springs 2011-02-09.

Uluru at Sunset

Uluru, just before sunset. To be honest, I’m more excited about this photograph of the world’s cutest little bird, a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater. Set: Uluru and Kata Tjuta 2011-02-10.

Rainfall over Kata Tjuta, from Uluru

Rainfall over Kata Tjuta. The famous sunset over Uluru fizzled due to this rain, but it was worth it – a beautiful sight. Look at the scale of that rainfall! You can see Kata Tjuta to the centre-right of the photograph. This is a HDR shot from two original photographs. Set: Uluru and Kata Tjuta HDR.

Black Kite swallowing midair

This is a Black Kite, a resident of Alice Springs Desert Park. If you visit Alice Springs, make sure you go there, it’s fantastic. Here you can see the bird eating meat it has just tossed from its talons to its beak – they eat in mid-air to avoid other birds robbing them of a meal. Set: Alice Springs 2011-02-11.

Now that the photography is sorted out, I’m going to write up some thoughts about the experience of visiting… soon!

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2 Responses to Pecking at things does not work

  1. Duncan says:

    Great photos G. Do you have a polarising filter? It looks like you don’t and in the Aussie sun you really should… if nothing else to bring out the blue skies, eg in your Uluru shot. Love the storm, looks like a good one to blow up and frame? But if you do that, work on the pink highlights in the cloud :)

    But, too many words spent on negative comments … great photos!

    • grahame says:

      Cheers! I’m planning to print that one and frame it, will definitely have to work on the cloud. Might be as simple as just correcting the colour, I may be able to fix it by reprocessing with different parameters to the tone mapper.

      I bought a polarising filter that fits on the wide angle lens when I got back, you’re right about needing one. Really helps.

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