The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

Archive for May, 2013

On the Road……Redwood Grove: 4 years later

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On a recent ride in the hills above Fairfax I passed this spot.

There’s a natural drainage running along this north facing slop, which Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. bisects. It’s cool and moist and there’s a stand of redwood trees.

This is also the spot where I made my very first photograph for this site almost 4 years ago to the day!

Here’s a link to the photograph and post #1.

And here I am, 4 years later writing post #448.

I wonder where I’ll be 4 years from now?

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May 27th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

On the Road……A Poem – on Bike to Work Day

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In the dream,

we till the loamy soil

and work the byways and flyways

of pacific salmon

and monarch butterflies.

Days flow like cycling migration patterns of hummingbirds and

humpback whales.

— nourished by seal pup carrion and wildflowers.

Lew is right. There is no place else to go,

but remember that rascal Chuang Tzu.

Waking up he says,

“Maybe my life is only a butterfly’s dream.”

-Nathan, May 9, 2013

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May 9th, 2013 at 7:37 pm

On the Road……Coastal Sunset & Digital Metering w/ Sony RX100

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Here’s the sunset at 8:04pm from Thursday’s ride in the Marin Headlands.

The light was tricky. It was well into twilight, and there was a sharp contrast between the lightest and darkest areas in the scene.

(Note: roll your mouse over the image to see the extreme difference in the unprocessed camera file.)

For a landscape scene like this a serious photographer would typically use a large-sensor DSLR camera plus:

  • a tripod (to allow for a long exposure to let in more light without introducing blur from inadvertent camera movements) and
  • a graduated neutral-density filter (to control the scene’s dynamic range by reducing the brightness of the sky — but not the foreground).

However, my little Sony RX100 (reviewed here by NY Times tech writer David Pogue) handled the scene fairly well.

Here is the processing technique I recommend for this — or really any — digital photograph:

  1. Choose an exposure that preserves the brightest areas in the scene. That is, “expose for the highlights” to retain the vivid color and detail which might otherwise get “blown out”.  Metering the scene like this will render the rest of the image too dark, but that’s okay. When mousing over the above image, you can see how everything — except the sky, the bike’s shiny metal parts, and the clear water bottle — is way (and I mean way) underexposed.
  2. Tweak the shadow areas in post-processing according to taste.  Here is where we adjust areas that are too dark. When I opened-up the shadow areas in Photoshop using a curves adjustment layer there was surprisingly still enough detail hidden in the file to create a decent image (at least for viewing on the web). In most images the before/after differences will be less extreme, but the technique will be the same.

By the way, this is the exact opposite of what Ansel Adams did in his black and white film photography. He would “expose for the shadows“, that is, meter the darkest area of the scene to preserve wanted detail, then in the darkroom develop the highlights to taste.

The difference in technique is a function of how digital sensors and film emulsions handle highlight rendering. For a good discussion of Adams’ technique and his Zone System, see this article.


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May 5th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

On the Road……Sunset over the San Francisco Bay

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April-May and Sept-Oct can always be counted on for balmy weather in the Bay Area. Today, it was 80+ degrees in downtown San Francisco!

The wind was gusting a bit in Sausalito when I arrived home from work, but around 7pm the wind just stopped.

Even at this hour the air was still warm. So I couldn’t resist a short climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge and then further up into the Marin Headlands to watch the sunset.

Even on the long descent coming home (as it was getting dark) I was completely comfortable in just a short-sleeve, cotton t-shirt.

These pictures were made at 7:53pm.

It’s not fair to extrapolate anything from a single picture, but it’s kind of funny that the guy is checking his phone, while the girl is totally digging the moment.

I’m not casting judgement because I’ve been that dude — maybe we all have.

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May 2nd, 2013 at 10:04 pm