A Little of Everything

Sunrise at Jordan Lake  © jj raia

Sunrise at Jordan Lake © jj raia

On Sunday this week, according to the app Clear Outside, there was to be about 50% middle cloud cover around sunrise, so I decided to head out to Jordan Lake and see if there might be a better sunrise than the sunset attempt on Friday. The clouds looked interesting, and I had hoped that there would be some mist hanging low over the water with the cool temperatures, but unfortunately none was there. Luckily, the wind was absolutely calm, so the water mirrored the sky leaving no problems to overcome. Since the water level was pretty low from a recent extended dry spell, a few rocks were revealed and made for an easy foreground, leaving me with not much to do but plop down the tripod and trip the shutter. I did the usual image of the lake (above) with a split ND filter on the sky to better balance the tonal values, and I suppose it turned out OK. But after the sun was up and the sunrise color was gone, I wanted to try some ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) and see what I could come up with.

With a lot of artistic license, I merged three separate frames from the many, many I took, and after quite a bit of blending various parts of each frame, along with some clone blending, I came up with what is seen below. Part of the shoreline of the lake was included and it is a far departure from reality, but it was enjoyable “creating” an image rather than simply tripping the shutter trying to capture what was there. It was also an exercise in working with some of the Photoshop tools in creative ways, along with solving/correcting a few problems.

Foggy Morning at Jordan Lake © jj raia

Foggy Morning  © jj raia

It was more fun creating the image above than there was taking the accurate image at the top, although there were many problems today with Photoshop not working properly, and dying mice. So what should have taken a short time, ended up being an entire afternoon of overcoming obstacles. I’m sure that this image could use some more work, but this type of ICM is still new to me, and I hope to get better at it going forward. But I was able to “create” the fog I was looking for along the way.

Jordan Lake Panorama  © jj raia

Jordan Lake Panorama © jj raia

In order to get the full scope of the horizon color at first light, a three panel panorama was needed to center the orange at the horizon along with the branches of a recently fallen snag. I wasn’t sure if the panels would stitch together because of the branches and not using a nodal point head when swiveling the camera. But Lightroom had no problem in quickly making the pano. It seems that piece of expensive equipment is not really a necessity, at least as far as my experience has shown. The cloud pattern, along with the leading lines of the branches, seem to provide an additional focus toward the color at the horizon, whereas that focus was somewhat lost when quite a few more clouds moved in minutes later as seen in the image at the top when the sun had already risen above the horizon.

Watercolor Clouds — Jordan Lake, NC  © jj raia

Watercolor Clouds — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

However, it was a bit sad to discover that since I last visited, this graceful snag on the edge of the lake had finally given out, and fallen into the water, although it did provide a bit of foreground in the panorama. The photo above was taken on my first visit there back in March of 2014 on what I thought was a pretty lackluster sunrise. But the thick clouds somehow grabbed some of the color making them look like a watercolor, and it remains one of my favorite shots of the lake. I do remember the need for an exact tripod placement, left/right as well as height, to expose the small gap between the trunks, revealing a bit of the lake. It just seemed a bit better than if they were together, with the two trunks seemingly emerging from the opposite shoreline. When I was processing it, I discovered some fishing line along with a float caught in the branches and marveled that, being barely a year into the digital world, they could be eliminated with a tool in Photoshop!! Similar discoveries had occurred when I shot film… but those frames would end up “on the cutting room floor” never to see the light of day.

2 thoughts on “A Little of Everything

  1. On You Tube, watch Andy Gray and search either his name or Tuesday Night Edits. There are loads of videos of him actually creating his abstracts and some showing how he uses a flick of the wrist while taking a photo to record the image. Looks like fun and actually is. Great for creativity.


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