Saturday, October 16, 2010

Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania

When I was walking the Magee Marsh, I ran into several people and we chatted about other birding areas.  One of the recommendations was Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania.  I was intrigued because Michigan has a Presque Isle River in the Porcupine Mountains that is a wonderful place. So as we planned our route south and east, we chose to visit Presque Isle State Park.

We arrived late in the afternoon and after looking at the map on our iPad, we chose to drive the perimeter.  Once again, we had found a place with many opportunities. Near the city of Erie, it has many opportunities. We saw joggers and bicyclists. There were opportunities for sailing, canoeing, and kayaking on Lake Erie.  There were both shoreline, pond, and forested areas for birding.  It is the only surf sand beach in Pennsylvania. Because of the many habitats, it contains the greatest number of the state's endangered, threatened and rare species than any other similarly sized area in Pennsylvania.

To my delight, we discovered a lighthouse!  It was late in the day and the sun was obscured by clouds. I knew the lighting wasn't the greatest, but I try to be disciplined in my photography.  So I shot both horizontal and vertical, changed positions, and shot for HDR.

Here is one of the original in the sequence I shot for HDR:

Nik has just come out with new HDR software, HDR Efex Pro and since I do a lot of HDR, I bought it the day it came out. This was my first chance to play with it.  

HDR Efex Pro program is a photoshop plugin. You choose which images and it combines them. There are 33 preset choices as well as manual choices so you have a lot of control as to how your final image will look. Here is my first attempt. I liked the stormy day look and I wanted the sky and clouds to be dark enough that the light from the lighthouse would show. This is how the image emerged from HDR Efex Pro:

I usually play with my Topaz plugins: BuzSim and Topaz sharpen. Here was my first attempt and I think I went too far with the BuzSim:

Here is my second attempt using the same HDR conversion - less strong effects, but still enhanced with Topaz BuzSim & Topaz Sharpen. I didn't add the lens flare on this one that made the other light shine more.

 Since I like to play with several choices when I'm doing HDR, I went over to Photomatix and used a different set of images, vertical this time and created this image. Once again I went beyond the Photomatix and used the Topaz BuzSim and Topaz Sharpen for artistic effects.

 Here is a different version on roughly the same original images, using Efex Pro but without adding Topaz.

I don't know yet which of these will be my finished images. I suspect when I get home with my larger calibrated screen and more time, I will revisit these and perhaps start over until I decide which ones I like the best. I suspect that I'll have more than one finished product - a dark brooding look and one with a bluer sky.

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