Majestic Moment: Sun rising over Mount Scott above Crater Lake.
I’m pleased to present Majestic Moment as the third entry in the new blog series Image of the Week to celebrate the re-launch of krollimages.com. It is truly “Something Big” as I’ve been alluding to this week; the high dynamic range (HDR) panoramic image is a blending of 35 individual shots into a file that is over 400MBs in size!
Sunrise at Crater Lake was the main attraction in an epic day of shooting. The road trip started with a 2:50am alarm at my convention hotel in Canyonville. The forecast called for partly cloudy skies and I had read that during over half of the off-season days the lake is obscured by clouds, but I couldn’t pass up the possibility. Sunrise was calculated for 6:40 and the full moon to set at 6:51 so my goal was to arrive by 5:30 to catch both moonlight and sunrise images. Google calculated the trip at 2:20 and I wanted to allow for possible poor road conditions so I was on the road by just after 3:00. As I left the hotel the moon was barely visible through the clouds, but they looked high and thin so I was committed to the trip.
After passing through Tiller on the way to Trail there was a steady climb into the forest with roadside snow starting to appear. The road was more primitive when I passed a sign warning that winter maintenance was limited, not what you want to see at that point in the trip! Fortunately, other than some patchy black ice, this part of the trip was without incident. Once on the Crater Lake highway it was smooth sailing; I saw the first significant snow at 4:20 and reached the park entrance at 4:54. I was thrilled to see a bright full moon overhead after passing the visitors center and reached the moonlit parking area at Rim Village at 5:22. On the drive to the park I saw only four cars and four eyes (two belonging to a coyote and two to another small animal that I only saw the eyes of). There were three cars in the parking lot one with a family that also intended to watch the sunrise (from the opposite end of the parking lot) and two unoccupied that had clearly been there overnight. I would be destined to experience this magical morning on the rim of Crater Lake in solitude.
I took many shots over the four hours I was in the park, but the grouping that I was most excited to process was to eventually become Majestic Moment. My goal was to create an HDR Panoramic just as the sun fully emerged from behind Mount Scott to the east. Knowing that would take many shots and careful movement on the tripod I didn’t want to do it for the actual sunrise moment. (For that I would have the D300 at it’s widest (11mm) and stationary on the tripod while shooting the D80 and WX10 handheld.) My hope was that the sky would be stable enough to allow stitching and that I would get a good sun star by waiting for this time to do a panorama. In the interest of time I decided (after some earlier tests) that I would do 7 shot 2/3 stop exposure brackets in 5 positions (less than some of the other panoramas I’m still processing from the day) for a total of 35 shots. Fortunately it worked out in reality quite close to what I had planned.
For processing I exported all 35 Majestic Moment Source images (all visible in the Majestic Moment Collection images ) from Aperture for the move over to Photoshop. The first step was to experiment with different methods of stitching the 5 auto exposed images into test panoramas to see which showed the most potential and to make sure the basic panorama was worth the effort to convert to HDR (Images 5 – 8). Satisfied that the results were promising the next step was to merge each of the 5 image groupings into individual HDR Images (Images 16, 24, 32, 40, 48). Finally I merged those 5 HDR images into a preliminary panorama that needed some fine tuning with contrast, sharpening, and curves adjustments to produce the final Majestic Moment and uncropped & cropped images (1 & 2). Comparing the HDR & standard (Images 4 & 5) composites really shows off what HDR can do for the right images. The final PSD file is over 400MB and took about 3 hours to complete. In order to be fully appreciated it will need to be printed very large (even a large TV failed to do it justice), I look forward to doing that soon.
Crater Lake was certainly the highlight of the day, but by no means the end of it. I continued on the road trip with multiple stops including Rogue Gorge, Diamond Lake, Watson Falls, Toketee Falls, and Colliding Rivers among others. I met some very nice people (including Rodney and Dennis & their lovely ladies) and saw some wonderful new sights. By the time I reached home at 9:15 that evening and read a story to my daughter it had been a quite a long day, but one full of priceless experiences and unique images.
To celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of krollimages.com you can find a free desktop background of Majestic Moment available for download in the gallery. You will see many more images from Crater Lake and the other stops in the coming days and weeks. If you enjoy viewing them even a small fraction of how much I enjoyed capturing them you should be in for a treat!
- 35 Raw images with Nikon D300 @ 200 ISO
- Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX (AF 11-16mm f/2.8) @ 16mm
- Various Exposures @ ƒ/16 (7 shot brackets in aperture priority)
- Saturday, April 7, 2012 @ 6:57 & 6:58
- Rim Village @ Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA
- Total distance: 256.5 miles (Canyonville to Roseburg, 164 additional miles home)
- Total time: 13:53:05 (Canyonville to Roseburg)
- Moving time: 9:47:58
- Average speed: 16.0 mi/h
- Average moving speed: 23.5 mi/h
- Average pace: 3.7 min/mi
- Average moving pace: 2.6 min/mi
- Max elevation: 7128 ft
- Min elevation: 411 ft
- Elevation gain: 12478 ft
- Max grade: 9 %
- Min grade: -14 %
- Recorded: 4/7/2012 3:10 AM (Created by My Tracks on Android.)
- Calculated Map