Saturday, October 9, 2010

Denali, Day and Night

Both of the images are High Dynamic Range (HDR) that represents most of the visible world, therefore some what you see may be bit unnatural. I did the HDR using Photomatix 3 Pro. Then I opened them in Photoshop CS5, cropped them, applied curves to correct colors and finally sharpening. The above image was taken at Wonder Lake, near Mile 85 of the Denali Park Road. While I was there taking the images, another photographer stopped to tell how lucky I was; he has been coming here for the last 27 years and never seen Mount McKinley so clear, not a cloud in the sky. Maybe I was lucky twice; I also won the Denali Lotto which permits winners to drive their own vehicles for a day inside the park beyond Milepost 15. This is allowed once a year at the end of the season for about 4 days. Other than on this occasion, one has to ride a bus past the gate at Milepost 15 at the Savage River Bridge. Due to the restrictions of the blog, I was unable to properly size the images but if you click on them, a larger image may be available depending in your settings.

What you see above are the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis taken near Denali. This image is also HDR but with a different twist. When using HDR, one changes the exposures to obtain more detail of the dark and light areas of an image. In this case, I did not change the exposures but I rather used time intervals to capture the changes in the lights, as they expanded and contracted across the sky. This technique may be called stacking by some. Since I could not cover the lights across the sky using a 16-35 mm lens set a 16 mm, I used another secret trick of mine (well not secret any more after you read this). I just set the camera in the tripod with the lower left corner and the upper right corners of the viewing frame aligned with the horizon. So I am really splitting the frame with an imaginative diagonal line and aligning that line with the horizon, then I crop a bit the ends to make image rectangular. The University of Alaska has a website that predicts the probability of seen the northern lights ( and I relied on it to wake up in the middle of the night and search for them. It worked for the night when this image was taken. While at ANWAR, where the photos of the bears of the previous blog were taken, this site showed very poor probabilities of seen them so to bed I went. When I woke up the next morning, the first thing the guide tells me is about the extraordinary northen lights seen that night. These were in the form of waving colorful curtains that cover most of the sky. So when I asked him why he did not wake me up, he responded : "You told me that you came to see Polar bears."


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Stunning!! Although I have seen pictures and heard much of HDR and stacking, I have never tried either process myself. Stacking is particularly effective in macro photography. Maybe one day when I retire and have more time I will try it.

You were very lucky to have a clear day for the shot at Lake Wonder and it is a terrific one too. From seeing pictures of this area, I regret that I was never able to get up there. You were even more lucky to win that lotto. What a fantastic prize that was and I can bet you put it to full use. I hope our friend up there told you the best places to go to as well.

I have one seen the Aurora Borealis in films and it is spectacular!! I like what you did with this pic Jose. We all have our tricks don't we? :)

I hope you killed that guide, as I know I would have. LOL!! Grrr!! How frustrated you must have felt. You have to wonder what some people have instead of brains. Well, there is always a next time.

I am pleased to see that you had such a successful trip, unlike the previous one. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Chris Tennant said...

Wow Jose, these are great shots!

Balaphoto said...

Excellent pictures, congratulations!!!

Frank, Barcelona