Sangria at Sunset

Last weekend I went wine tasting with some friends to celebrate a couple of their birthdays, and the last stop of the day was Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia. As anyone who follows my Flickr photostream knows, I’m a huge fan of dogs at vineyards, and this has to be the most dog-centric vineyard I’ve ever been to. Their initials, of course, are “BOW,” which they make regular use of, and they have portraits of dogs hanging up all over their tasting room. Also, if you look at this photo at full size you can see the logo on their glass features a dog looking up into a tree. There must have been over a dozen happy canines roaming around the property while their owners sipped wine. The ambiance was unbeatable, so we procured a few pitchers of sangria and parked ourselves on a picnic table to watch the sunset.

An Unlikely Sunset

I’m a big fan of sunsets in general but didn’t have much hope for this one. You can think of clouds as the canvas upon which a sunset will be painted (if you’re into metaphors), and without them all you usually get is a uniform haze of light gradually fading to black. As you can see here there were only a few scattered clouds in the sky and they weren’t really picking up any color, so the fact that this sunset turned out to be so awesome definitely took me by surprise. Apparently there was some kind of atmospheric disturbance beyond the horizon that caused huge luminescent bands of orange to streak up into the sky radially from where the sun was setting. I tried to capture one of these flares in the shot along with the deep blue surrounding it.

What makes this shot even more unlikely is that it’s an HDR image taken with a point-and-shoot camera, which is theoretically possible but highly impractical. After a few minutes of watching this incredible sunset and castigating myself for not having a real camera/tripod to photograph it with, I thought I should try to make the most the situation and attempt an HDR sequence anyways. I had to hold the camera firmly down against a deck railing and adjust the EV through a menu between each shot for a total of five times; even with my vicelike grip on it I still had to manually align all the images in Photoshop before importing them into Photomatix. Thankfully since I got a DLSR this isn’t something I’ll have to repeat, but I’m glad I made it work to capture this scene.

First Post!

Thanks for taking a look at the new blog! For most of the past six months I’ve been posting a handful of pics on Flickr every week, but towards the end of the year I started craving a better way to distribute/display my photos. Flickr is fantastic for hosting images, but the default image size on their photo page is much smaller than I’d prefer, and pretty much every user’s page looks exactly the same. I decided to start this blog to provide a space where I can show photos at a much larger size and in a more unique setting. Also, since I finally got a “real” camera last fall (a Nikon D90) and started experimenting with HDR photography, I’ve held off on putting new material online until I could get this blog up and running. Needless to say I’m extremely excited about sharing some of my recent work in the coming months.

I’m planning on posting twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday (starting tomorrow). If you’d like to get the posts automatically, click the RSS button up top or enter your email address in the form to the right. And of course, any feedback on the design/layout of this site would be appreciated!

Well… can’t have a photo blog without a photo, right?

Here’s the last pic I uploaded to Flickr before taking a month off to produce more material and set up this blog. It was taken near the end of the summer in 2004, while on a company trip to Bermuda. My friend Cobey and I rented scooters the morning after we landed and ended up putting hundreds of kilometers on the bikes in the three days we were there. While heading back to the hotel one evening we pulled over to take some shots of the storm clouds moving across the other side of the bay. This photo was taken somewhere along North Shore Road; the sun is setting almost directly over the Royal Naval Dockyard that occupies the tip of the peninsula on the northwest corner of the island.

Next up: Less is more – iPhone photography