Q Center Day 1

Attending a management retreat at the Q Center in St. Charles, IL this week. The grounds are beautiful, and there are lots of great shots to be had.  You know, if it weren’t for the meetings that are the real reason I’m here and all.

A few of us went for a walk down by the Fox River – just a gorgeous, perfect late summer day it was!

Jet Ski on the Fox River

Jet Ski on the Fox River

Fox River Trail - St. Charles

Fox River Trail - St. Charles

Beginning to *Fall*

Beginning to *Fall*

The waterfall behind the main lobby got interesting just after sunset. The white balance in the shot below was just set to Auto – I didn’t know what exactly would come out, except that it would be biased toward blue, since it was just after sunset. I figured I could “fix it later” if necessary…

Left the WB right as it was out of camera – a bit of noise reduction, some sharpening in the still parts of the image, and added some negative clarity in the moving parts. A bit of Lightroom fill light. No HDR processing here – just got kind of lucky with the range.  There are security lights all over the place here, so keeping them out of the frame at 11mm was a challenge, to say the least.  I was on a bridge above the little creek pictured, and had to raise the tripod up high and point the camera down at the scene to avoid at least 3 of them trying to creep into the scene and confuse the heck out of the light meter (that’s right, no fancy exposure calculations in my head or otherwise – this is just what the meter gave me).

Actually, it’s even luckier than that – the D90’s meter in any of the shooting modes except manual  just “pegs” at 30 seconds when there’s not enough light (the big clue is that the shot is clearly not the “average” luminosity, the meter is going for – that of an 18% grey card, for example).  If you want more than 30 sec, you have to go to bulb (manual mode) or use some kind of external camera control (like tethering software). At least it’s kind enough to tell you how much it’s underexposing using a 30 second shutter speed, which is plenty of information to go on without an external meter.

Waterfall

Waterfall - 30" f/14, ISO 200

.:.

The main entrance to the Visitor Center

I had noticed the first night I was here that the pond looked interesting around twilight.  Good thing I always carry a “spare” tripod in the trunk, just in case.

The Flagpole

The Flagpole - 30" @ f/8, ISO 200

And I am occasionally rewarded for lugging a wide angle lens around every day.  Heavy, but handy – especially since the “walkaround lens” on my camera is a 28-105 w/ macro.  You can get pretty stuck on a crop sensor with a hard stop at 28mm. Though I did add some selective saturation and luminance adjustments, ran these through NoiseNinja and did some basic post in Lightroom, the colors are pretty much straight out of camera.

Both are from 3-frame bracketed HDR sets (Photomatix) – base at around +2EV, then +/-1EV, give or take.  After the fist set, I stretched the longest exposure a bit (multiplied time by 3 instead of 2 – about +1.5EV if I’ve done my math right – which would be miraculous, given how much sleep I’ve had this week) to see what might come out. I used plain old matrix metering on the camera to measure the base exposure, set the shutter to bulb and timed the exposures by second-hand (had to run under a nearby streetlight, since I neglected to pack a flashlight for this trip – normally in my bag at all times for just this reason!).  Conveniently, said streetlight was throwing a bit of extra light on the lilypads in the foreground, though somewhat unevenly in the second shot.

#1 below was shot at 30, 60 and 120 sec and #2 at 15, 30, 90 sec, both at f/8, ISO 200.

Pond I

Pond I

Pond II

Pond II

Later on, I may try to search out some critters.  I saw a couple of bees of various types buzzing around the flower gardens, and a wonderful little jumping spider (I think – I’m no expert on all the various 6 and 8 legged creatures) – all furry with 4 great big eyes. Crossing my fingers!

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