We were out driving the other afternoon and I took Sraddha up to the Sedona Airport for the vista. I have been up here before in mornings. We couldn’t stay very long as I was double parked in handicap spot so Sraddha could view and I didn’t want to pay the parking fee cheapskate that I have become (or is it budget conscious). The light hadn’t really developed yet as it was only 3 hours until sunset, but the clouds were really interesting.
Hmm. How to photograph this?
Because we were at the airport, I couldn’t fly the quadcopter so I dug out my Olympus EM5-MKII with 12-40 lens, and shot 6 shots turning the camera to portrait mode and overlapping about 30%. What made the colors pop is that each shot was actually a 3 shot HDR. So I took a total of 18 photos. Each 3 were +2,0,-2 in exposure. I used my tripod but it wasn’t exactly level as time was of the essence.
Camera settings focus – 22 mm (equivalent to 44mm in full frame),
F5 at around 1/2000, ISO 200.
Processing in Lightroom & Photoshop
I processed the photos in Adobe Lightroom using my usual EM1 import preset, then ran the 18 photos thru Photomatix using natural setting. Merged the resultant 6 HDR TIF files into panorama in Adobe Photoshop, then cleaned it up a bit and brought it back to Lightroom where I did some final minor adjustments in shadows and color the cropped 3:1 to get some of the foreground out. (below is unadjusted version for comparison)
While not my best work it was quick taking me only about 25 minutes from start to finish.
Un-adjusted Un-cropped Panorama
Adjusted HDR Panorama in Black & White I made a virtual copy of the first shot in Lightroom then set it to Black and White. Sharpened it a little and adjusted blacks, whites and color. slight contrast.
Received my new DJI Mavic Pro quadcopter late December and have been learning to fly. Since I never played video games, my eye-hand coordination leaves a bit to be desired. Still it just needs practice, and after some, I ventured up into the Catalina Mountains to the Romero Pools to fly and film.
Quite a little challenge and learned a lot including, as you will see, on very important lesson in this video. Hope you enjoy.
Not totally about birds and grasslands but mostly. Saturday evening I feasted on a pizza at the Velvet Elvis here in Patagonia while Sraddha stayed back home resting and relaxing. Met a delightful couple who used to live in Tucson and were touring the area after his business meetings. Turns out a lot of tourists, birders, etc love to travel through here in winter time (big surprise) and also in summer because it is cooler in higher elevations of over 4,000 to 5,0000 ft.
We had a wonderful afternoon at Paton's Bird yard then awoke to gusty winds on Sunday morning. Sraddha went over to the Nature conservancy while I nursed a sore foot from our recent power walks. Getting old in body with a few of the usual aches and pains but we tend to pay more attention to them these days since the body doesn't heal as fast as it used to. My right shoulder as case in point. I had messed up the tendons last summer during our big move out of the house and it is still hurting on a daily basis. I have had the cortisone shots which have helped but cannot work out regularly to this day and when I lift arm weights, it is half as much on the right side as left. Dr. Peter says the “tincture of time” will help and it has but I still guard against further injury and favor my left side. Now a sore right foot. But enough of my whining.
I had heard that the hawks fly in the mornings up in the hills south of town so we decided to head up the road in search of them.
Oops. Gas guage nearly empty. Not the right time to venture out in to unknown hills. Where to get some gas? We had explored gas at the Arivaca market but it was $0.40 more than Tucson so we figured we would wait. When we drove through Nogales area we didn't see a convenient station to fill up while towing. We had anticipated fueling up in Patagonia.
Those of you who live in the rural areas can relate when I say the only gas station in town is closed on Sundays! And they were surprisingly more expensive than Arivaca!
So off east 12 miles to Sonoita we go to find the Shell station where the gas was more reasonable and, most important, available. We had originally planned a little 90 minute drive but this ended up 4 hours and we are happy we did it. We ventured south into the Coronado National Forest over a winding road from Sonoita about 25 miles to a dirt road which took us thorugh Juniper and Pinon Pine forests up over San Canelo Pass.
Down in to San Rafael Valley and some incredibly beautiful and sparse natural grasslands remeniscent of a bygone era when the whole of southern Arizona was grasslands prior to the cattle ranchers moving in. We saw some cattle spread all around the valley and several ranches who seem to be more conservation minded these days. Drought has hit this area harder than the rest of Arizona but wildfire has not so the grasslands remain in tact.
As we descended into the valley we could see the radar station used by the border patrol for monitoring the area. We saw several border patrol trucks as we drove along. A few ranch trucks too. We saw 6 or 7 Kestrals hunting or resting so we knew there was food for them around the area. Evidence of deer and other animals were seen when we looked.
Headed west again through Juniper and Pinon pine forests over to Mowry in the western border of the valley. Only thing there was some homesteads and mailboxes.
As we descended through the canyons we happened onto Harshaw, an old ghost town with one adobe shack and a cemetary. Several families were visiting the cemetary to pay respects to their ancestors. We saw this amazing old Sycamore up the canyon. Sycamore trees line the canyons at this elevation (4000-5500) and are just beginning to bloom our. Amazing trees.
Continuing down the road we made it back to Patagonia for a late lunch then over to Paton's Bird Yard one more time.
We did see a couple red tail hawks but no Grey Hawks, or Zone tailed Hawks we had hoped to see. All in all it was a fun drive and we were glad we had to drive over to Sonoita for gas, otherwise we might not have seen this incredible valley.