Winter Rain

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Winter Lake — Mercer County, NJ  © jj raia

Winter Lake — Mercer County, NJ © jj raia

Earlier this month, on a trip to New Jersey to visit family and celebrate a 97th birthday, we stayed with my wife’s twin sister in a beautiful community that has plenty of natural areas and ponds that make it a wonderful place for walks and to enjoy nature. On a day of soaking rain and light mist, as is usually the case, all the colors of the woods were enhanced, and I kept an eye out for the rain to slow down enough to get out with the camera. I didn’t have the umbrella holder that attaches to one of the tripod legs normally used when it rains, so a plastic bag was used as a substitute. It’s a firm belief that electronics and water do not play well together, so I try to keep even a weather sealed camera, away from moisture.

The first pond I came to was only a short distance away, and the calm winds left the water smooth and reflective. Still setting up, I noticed two ducks slowly swimming toward my location, leaving a bright wake behind that might be used in any photo taken later, so I quickly raised the ISO and shutter speed to freeze their motion. The image itself was nothing of note, but the birds were sharp and the wake was a perfect leading line for whatever image they would be placed in later. The image above was the only one where they were inserted, but could have easily been placed in the image below as well, and when I have time after the holidays, I might try. The photograph seems to indicate that they should be placed more toward the left since the leaning trees lead from right to left. But we’ll see if it works out.

Winter Reflections No.2 — Mercer County, NJ  © jj raia

Winter Reflections No.2 — Mercer County, NJ © jj raia

The method is pretty straight forward, having both the image with and without the ducks open in Photoshop. Using the clone tool, the original sample was taken at the point just in front of the duck on the left. Then on a duplicate layer of the image without the ducks, after determining where they should be placed, simply begin “drawing” them in. If it turns out you don’t like the placement, simply trash the duplicate layer, create a new duplicate, and make another attempt at proper placement.

Winter Reflections No.1 — Mercer County, NJ  © jj raia

Winter Reflections No.1 — Mercer County, NJ © jj raia

After spending quite a bit of time at the first pond, I continued wandering around the neighborhood to several other small lakes, and found this singular white birch tree among a thicket of rain-soaked branches. There may have been a better angle for the photo, but to get into position would have meant going through the backyards of several homes, and opted not to push that envelope too far.

I ended up taking quite a few frames that morning, many of which were simply an effort to isolate some singular subject and were unsuccessful, but with the land being mostly level and limiting, it was necessary to use a telephoto to keep the bright sky out of the frame. It’s often preferable to shoot down for this type of image, to fill the frame with the textural elements rather than include the gray and distracting clouds. So I’m still happy to be able to do that with the added reach of the 300mm end of the new zoom rather than the previous 200mm, having a wider field of view, and not being able to get close enough, thereby losing quite a few pixels in cropping.

But, without everything being soaked and the resulting saturated colors, there would have been no images whatsoever, as I found out another day when I walked around again with an overcast, but with everything dry. I didn’t even take the camera out of the bag!!

 

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