Nothing too serious

While we had another fog this morning, one that lasted for quite a while, I couldn’t be arsed to go out to someplace photogenic to chase pics, so I just went over to the pond to see what could be found. None of the landscape shots that I contemplated were really doing it for me, so I just shot a handful of macro frames, really just noodling around. Two of them, however, produced some nice effects – the same nice effect, in fact.

mist drops on vine showing lens effect
In the twisted crook of a small vine, some spider webs caught the mist in a cluster of tiny spheres, and cropping down the original frame fairly tightly showed off the multiple Sauron eyes, actually two tree branches in the immediate background brought up by the lens effect of the water. It’s always better to have something really cool to see in such circumstances, and extremely difficult to do. The drops act as fisheye lenses, which makes everything seem smaller, so to see anything with real detail, it has to be extremely close, and at the right angle behind. And it helps if the drops are nice and round.

So then we get to the second one.

mist drop on pine needle showing lens effect
That’s a cluster of pine needles, many of them with drops perched at their tips – I just chose a particular one to pin focus on. Did I mention that, in order to see the background sharply through such lenses, focus has to be very specific? Forget autofocus, and we’re not even talking about a fine touch on the manual focus ring; what we’re looking at here is trying to hold still at a precise number of millimeters from the drop, and timing the shutter release within the infinitesimal swaying of my whole body. I’d take credit for excellent control, but I’d be damned to hell (or maybe Manhattan) for lying, since this is one of eight frames and the only one that’s sharp enough. But another was close.

It’s easy to believe you’re seeing more branches in that drop, but you’re not – they’re all pine needles, with a faint peek at the treeline against the water in the distant background. I think, in fact, that the yellow stripe in there is a reflection of the needle that supports the drop. Someday, I’ll locate a scenic little cabin after a snowstorm, and catch a nearby tree just as the snow is starting to melt off, and do a natural snowglobe pic. Sure, that shouldn’t be hard to arrange…

But in lieu of more scenic images from these fog conditions, I’ll return to the last fog, and an image you’ve already seen (probably.) For giggles, I cut it down to just the red channel, which was the least distinct for this image, and a tighter crop to highlight the ghostly nature of the tree.

tree in fog, red channel monochrome
That’s a really narrow dynamic range, and I like how the top of the tree almost vanishes into white. This is unaltered, by the way, just the way that the red channel looked, and you can see below, in the top row, exactly what the histogram looked like: not exactly an abundance of shadow tones.

histograms and curves showing various effects
The lack of any peaks at all towards the left side of the histogram tells us that there are not even decent middle tones, much less any deep shadow, like that wasn’t obvious from the image itself. But in the middle row, I shifted the bottom end to make the tones within the image fill the entire range from black to white – while it looks like I just clipped out the shadows (left side of the histogram,) technically what happened was telling the program to move the darkest tone, still quite high, all the way down to black, which has the result seen in the accompanying thumbnail.

All tones shifted evenly with this, however, making the top of the tree more distinct than I liked, so in the bottom row, I tweaked the brighter tones back up to where they were, and gave a very slight nudge down in the darkest tones to increase contrast in the foreground grasses – again, the accompanying thumbnail shows the end result. But if that’s not sufficient, here’s the larger version:

tree in fog with curves tweak
So, which one do you like better? I have my own favorite, but I’m curious to know how others see it, so I’m not going to influence your decision.

By the way, the near-monochrome image that I passed on posting for last Sunday’s Slide? It was another fog shot, so I’m glad I skipped it, otherwise I would’ve felt bad featuring even more thin white pics.

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