What can -5° F to -10° F do?

Started Jan 23, 2014 | Discussions
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VisionLight
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What can -5° F to -10° F do?
Jan 23, 2014

Would you believe, freeze a river solid from shore to shore. This post is special for those who have never witnessed this little facet of Mother Nature's power before.

After last week's visit to the Hudson River in the moody fog, today's hike was full of sunshine with not a cloud to be seen. On the less bright side however, it was -5° F and the wind was blowing (this week I did remember to bring my warming packs). Approaching the river last week on the east shore, it was difficult to see in the fog. Approaching today, this time from the west shore, it was readily seen, but came with its own little surprise:

What should have been flowing blue water under the cloudless mid afternoon sun was a frozen white carpet from shore to shore. To quote my caption from the first image of last week's moody afternoon post: "There's a river down there, I promise. We'll find it."

Framing this image and holding the camera steady was difficult in the strong winds (I have no idea what the wind chill was, though probably in the -20's). But absolutely nothing else was moving besides me. The river was solid as stone. What a change in just a week's time.

Last week's images were taken further down river from the opposite shore, back behind the darker hills on the right in the above images. Here, once again, is the view up to those same hills on that very different day:

The River just a week ago had a totally different personality.

With a fresh snowstorm overnight, my original intention in crossing the river was to attempt the third segment of my Lower Hudson Valley Panorama series, the Winter Snow. As a reminder, here are the first two segments from Summer and Fall:

I was within a mile of my goal when the route was blocked and signs posted due to the harsh conditions. One more strike on my quest, but there's still plenty of winter to come. And it then became an opportunity to once again explore the icy river down below.

Thanks for looking, and comments are always welcome.

Ed

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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Ed,

N(ICE) photo of the river covered with choppy ice and snow.  I remember that season--growing up in Denver and ice skating on the public park lakes that would freeze solid enough to support a few hundred skaters.  Of course on up in the Rockies just west of town it was easy to find frozen skating rinks.  Ah to be young again??

It is good to see the the SX50 performs so well in cold weather.

We are supposed to get the tail end of this latest cold snap tomorrow and Friday but should be back in the 70s come this weekend 

Murry

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Rmark
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

I'm just impressed you can go out at -5 and shoot pictures..!

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evancj
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Incredible photos Ed!!!

While we do get below zero up in the mountains regularly, our creeks around here flow to fast to freeze completely. Amazing!!!

I love the shot of the buckled ice, it's beautiful.

To bad you didn't your pano today, but winter is not over yet so don't despair.

Thanks for posting these.

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VisionLight
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Re: Murry
In reply to MurryG, Jan 23, 2014

MurryG wrote:

Ed,

N(ICE) photo of the river covered with choppy ice and snow. I remember that season--growing up in Denver and ice skating on the public park lakes that would freeze solid enough to support a few hundred skaters. Of course on up in the Rockies just west of town it was easy to find frozen skating rinks. Ah to be young again??

The low tomorrow is supposed to be only down to 5° and the high all the way up into the 20's. A heatwave at last.   Good thing I caught the icy river today. I'm happy you liked it. It took me longer than I would have liked out in the river trying to come up with an interesting composition. What we do for our art.

It is good to see the the SX50 performs so well in cold weather.

I guess I should think about things like taking a P&S out in such conditions, but I've done so a number of times now and it hasn't let me down. It's not only versatile, it's down right tough as well.

We are supposed to get the tail end of this latest cold snap tomorrow and Friday but should be back in the 70s come this weekend

That's sounding very inviting. So stay warm for two more days and then enjoy. We'll probably see some pictures from you.

Ed

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VisionLight
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Re: Rmark
In reply to Rmark, Jan 23, 2014

Rmark wrote:

I'm just impressed you can go out at -5 and shoot pictures..!

I just mentioned to Murry above - What we do for our art! I'll just have to remember once in a while that I'm getting a bit older and should think about warmer climates. On second thought, NAH!!

Thanks for looking,

Ed

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VisionLight
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Re: Evan
In reply to evancj, Jan 23, 2014

Thanks Evan. It took some doing to get that image, but I also thought it was just incredible and I had to. Even as cold as it was, who would think a river that large would freeze in this usually temperate zone. Nature is always full of surprises and I'm glad we get the opportunity to capture them.

Ed

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Hollander
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Hi Ed, A well documented winter series. Yes the weather can be so unpredictable during this time of the year.

The frozen river looks so different from what you showed us a week ago. I hope you'll be returning to warmer temperatures soon.

When I was still working in Northern B.C we had many times temp. of - 40 degree F.

Maybe I'm getting a bit paranoid when it comes to cold weather but Ed don't stray to far from your car, just in case.  

I sure appreciate your passion for photography in showing us your part of the world during the different seasons of the year.

You and Evan have shown us that the SX50 can stand up to the cold and keep on working.

Thanks for showing and sharing the pictures with us.

Cheers,

Rob.

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Augustin Man
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Congratulations, Ed! That's a very fine presentation of a spectacular winter display !

Happy shooting,

Augustin

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Norman B
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

I like #2 and it is nice to see the comparison between this week and last week in Pic #1. I find it interesting to see how the river bank draws your eye right into the picture in pic 2 with nothing to speak of in the foreground except the frozen river itself.

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Stephen Barrett
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Re: What can -5° F to -10° F do?
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Thanks for posting, Ed.
The one from a week ago is especially beautiful. Are you going to do a winter panorama to go with the other two?

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VisionLight
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Re: Rob
In reply to Hollander, Jan 23, 2014

Hi Rob,

The coldest weather I've ever lived in dropped down to -29°F air temperature at its lowest and we had a number of underground tunnels to avoid going outside. I can imagine what -40°F must have been like. Wow. On the other hand I've also lived in temps in the 120's° F where it didn't drop down below 100° even at night for the first two week stretch of the six months I was there. The strange thing was that that hot assignment immediately followed the cold one. Within 24 hours I was living in weather 90° hotter than the day before. I guess that's why I haven't followed my siblings to a warmer climate. I've just become accustomed to weather of any kind. And (most of the time at least) I take the proper precautions. Thanks for looking out for me.

As always, thanks for your thoughts on my photography as well. It's fun when Nature provides such wonderful subjects. And our little SX50s step up to capture them.

Take care,

Ed

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VisionLight
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Re: Augustin
In reply to Augustin Man, Jan 23, 2014

Thanks my friend. I'm happy I could share it with everyone.

Ed

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VisionLight
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Re: Norman and the perspective
In reply to Norman B, Jan 23, 2014

Hi Norman,

It's always interesting how people perceive an image. I could be wrong, but I think you may be perceiving the frozen water as looking from one shore across to the other side. In reality I'm actually about 100 feet out in the river and looking directly downstream. The sunlit hills are on the east bank and the shaded hills are on the west with the river flowing through the pass between them in the far distance. The compression in space seeming to narrow the river is the effect of the 84° angle of view of the wide angle focal length. I think I'll add a little more detail to this by doing a "how the shot was captured" reply to my OP.

Thanks for looking,

Ed

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VisionLight
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Re: Stephen
In reply to Stephen Barrett, Jan 23, 2014

Hi Stephen. My imagination hasn't been coming up with too many unusual micro-photography ideas of late, so it's been out into the cold for some inspiration. I'm happy you like the results.

Yesterday was the third try to add the winter panorama to the set. The first time there was just not enough snow for the image I have in mind. The second time, all access roads into the area were marked red making travel a crawl and turning around the smartest idea. And yesterday the roads were clear enough, but access up the mountain was barricaded and posted. Ice conditions made it too dangerous. I'm sure it would have been beautiful. There's still more winter left though, so I'll still make additional tries.

Ed

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VisionLight
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How the Frozen River image was created
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

It's always interesting how people perceive an image. Norman's reply and comments from other viewers imply that people may be perceiving the frozen water as looking from one shore directly across to the other side. In reality I'm actually about 100 feet out in the river and looking downstream. The sunlit hills on the left are on the east bank and the shaded hills are on the west side with the river flowing through the pass between them in the far distance. The compression in space seeming to narrow the river is the effect of the 84° angle of view of the wide focal length lens coupled with the terrain.

Take a look at the panorama image again:

Right along the bottom to the left of center there is a large dock that extends about 100 feet into the river. I am out at the far right edge of the dock facing down river to the right. The island like projection into the river in the panorama is the lower shadowed hill in the river image, with the mountain behind the island the larger one in shadows. The cut-line through the sunlit hills on the left in the top image is the road through Fort Smith that leads to the bridge in the panorama.

With the camera set to 24mm (84° angle) for the widest view, I took the exposure off the far sunlit hills as being the best example of the overall EV of the scene combined with my preset -1/3 EC. This was also my intended focus point with the wide depth at this focal length, so I didn't have to do a multi-step process. I then pointed the camera down at the ice floes that were piled up at my feet, raising it slowly moving slightly side to side until the composition fell in place in my mind's eye. Making sure the handheld camera was level, I pressed the shutter. I was happy with the LCD review.

I was a little sad I didn't have my full frame camera and my 12mm (124° angle) rectilinear lens with me. That would have really made an impressive image. So for a few moments I thought about attaching the camera to my tripod (the QR plate is always on the camera when I'm out and about) and doing a multi-image panorama. But with the wind now ripping at the exposed portions of my face, I thought better of it and slid back across the ice on the dock to the somewhat sheltered shore. Note to self: I love my SX50 but I have to remember to still carry the big gun more often. The SX50 is just too addictive.

I hope this is of some help to people in getting unusual views in their photography.

Ed

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Hollander
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Re: How the Frozen River image was created
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

THANK YOU FOR EXPLAINING HOW YOU TOOK THAT PICTURE ED. I have always like the flip out LCD screen on my camera and use it often.

I couldn't understand why I like the SX50 so much but you just said it. It's "addictive" and that's the word I was looking for  Thanks.

Rob.

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Norman B
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Re: Norman and the perspective
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 23, 2014

Yes, I thought of you standing on the shore and probably formed that opinion based on last weeks pics. It is still a nice image regardless of where you were standing.

I live on the Canadian prairie so I can relate to the cold weather you are having. It is around -15 F here today with wind chill warnings in effect and snow on the ground. It is a minor setback IMO because winter does bring terrific opportunity for shutterbugs to take advantage of.

There is always the fine art of shooting from the car window if it gets really cold. LOL

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VisionLight
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I forgot to include some tips on the images
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 24, 2014

An important facet of photographing under blue skies in the snow and ice is getting the overall color temperature of the image correct. As we've all seen, snow and ice easily reflect the sky, particularly the shadows, and the image comes out too blue. The easiest way to defend against this effect, other than precisely setting the color temperature in camera, is to shoot in raw.

Since I shoot almost 100% raw+JPEG these days set to Auto White Balance, I had the raw files to work with for these images. But I was in for a surprise. Both images, the shore with train tracks and the frozen river, both had some areas where the white balance was perfect as I remembered it. AND areas where it was way off. So in this case, I could have used either raw or JPEG. In the shore with train tracks image, the shoreline up through the river and through the mountains and sky were in perfect balance. But the tracks and surrounding shadowed snow were an unnatural deep blue. I had to select this area only and adjust the temperature until it blended with the rest of the image. In the frozen river image, the color temperature from the camera was beautiful for the top 80% of the scene, but the ice floes around the dock were a very unnatural blue. Once again I selected only this area to blend it with the colors of the rest of the scene.

Which file, raw or JPEG, did I choose? The raw in each case. The reason was two fold. First when dealing with color correction, the more bits you have, the better. I converted the 12 bit raw files into 16 bit TIFF files (4 "wasted" bits I know) before opening them in Photoshop CS6, which can work in a 16 bit space (or even 32 bit when needed). JPEG files are only 8 bits. On my 30 bit monitor, precisely adjusting color was now very easy. The second reason was sharpening. In camera sharpening of the JPEG files is by USM. I prefer not to use USM unless really necessary and particularly find its effects disconcerting in bright, contrasty outdoor scenes. By using the raw files, I could eliminate all sharpening before creating the TIFF files, then reapply it with the various tools and plugins in Photoshop that I can precisely control. The JPEGs were still valuable though, as I could use them as a reference if I went too far in any direction with the post processing.

Hopefully these tips will further help people get the most out of our versatile SX50s.

Ed

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BIJ001
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-5° F to -10° F = -20°C to -23°C -- a sidenote for us in, say, Europe (N/T)
In reply to VisionLight, Jan 24, 2014

-5° F to -10° F = -20°C to -23°C

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