Sunday, April 06, 2014

Big Bend Ranch State Park - Shooting for HDR

Over the years, I have learned that discipline is a very important part of photography. Many times I have arrived at my photographic destination at the "right" time, but it feels like I am getting "nothing." I chimp at the photos I've taken and I think I've had a bust.  But then, after I get home and start doing the post processing, I find that my discipline to keep shooting, bracketing for HDR (High Dynamic Range), pays off. 

Here is the final image:

Here are the two images used to create it.

Sometimes my HDR work is intended to depict what my eyes saw and what the camera can not capture in one image.  Sometimes, using the available software, the image moves beyond what my eye saw to an artistic interpretation.  

I recently bought the NIK Software package with an updated HDR Efex Pro 2.  This version is MUCH faster and still gives a lot of choices for the final tone mapping.  I added some sharpening and additional saturation to give that beautiful sunrise glow. For some photography markets, it probably has too much post processing to qualify.  But . . .  I think it will make a good print.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sauceda Lodge Bunkhouse

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the bunkhouse, but it deserves mention in this series of blogs about Big Bend Ranch State Park. On the outside, it looks like a big metal building with a great porch with wagon wheel seating.  Walk inside and it is an inviting great room with a dining area for about 40 and a sitting area around a fireplace. On the right are the entrances to the men and women's sections.  When I heard bunkhouse, I was expecting camp like facilities with literal bunk beds.  Instead, each corridor has little open "rooms" with two twin beds.  There is space under each bed to store your belongings. the bathroom with showers and toilets are on the end.

The big great room is a great place to meet other people from park rangers to other guests.  One park ranger who was getting his morning coffee gave us excellent ideas on where to go for the day.  There was one other visitor, a geology enthusiast who shared his knowledge of the geology of the park at the end of the day.

Meal service is available from the kitchen Friday through Mondays. Prior reservations no later than seven days ahead of arrival with prepayment are required.  Call the Big Bend Ranch 423-358-4444 for reservations.  Breakfast is at 8 a.m. Lunch is at noon. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. Because we knew we would spend most of our day exploring and photographing, we did not eat one of the meals. The bunkhouse kitchen is not available for guests, but there is a refrigerator and microwave.  There was also ice tea and coffee available.

The bunkhouse is a comfortable, reasonably priced place to stay at the Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Its informal atmosphere allows pleasant interaction with other visitors and staff.  We were there during spring when the weather was cool, but I did see air conditioning units.