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Tag: McDowell Mountain Park (page 31 of 33)

Lousley Wash before Sunset

Below is a photo from Sunday’s hike with Marilyn.  I took this photo about half an hour before sunset.

Even though it’s only a photo, I still find it difficult to look at the spot in the photo depicting the sun.  For some reason, I don’t have this problem with either of out-of-camera versions. (I used the Sony in-camera HDR mode for this photo.  I took the HDR result, tone mapped it, and applied further edits using GIMP.)

Marilyn at the Lousley Hill Overlook

Marilyn and I hiked Lousley Hill late in the day on Sunday.  At the top, we saw a fellow flying remote control gliders.  We didn’t stick around too long because there seemed to be biting gnats around.

On the way down, I took this photo of Marilyn at the overlook.

Red Mountain through Ocotillo Branches

I took this photo back on July 14 just after a big storm swept had swept through the area.  I had tried editing it several times, but wasn’t happy with the results.  Today, I tone mapped the image and then applied some other small edits resulting in the image below.  I’m also including a crop which is interesting too.

Sunrise Photos: New Edits

I’ve been trying the Mantiuk ’06 tone mapping operation on some of the photos that I’ve edited in the past to see what additional detail might be revealed.  In both of the photos below, the foreground was very dark and, in my original edits, I wasn’t able to do a satisfactory job of showing the foreground detail.

I first posted this one on August 31st.  Here’s a link to the original edit for comparison purposes.  The original was cropped somewhat, whereas this one is not.  The differences in the foreground detail between this version and the original are not that profound.  I think the color of the bare ground looks better in this one as does the detail in some of the foliage.

This one, below, was first posted on July 20.  Again, here’s a link to the original edit.  Again, the crop is different on the new edit – it’s uncropped.  The original showed the trees and the foreground as a silhouette.  This one shows considerably more detail.  Using the editor, GIMP, I zoomed in an looked at the area near the orange cones.  I could almost read the sign sitting along the fence just right of the cones.

While talking to my Mom about these photos, she thought it’d be interesting to see what the out-of-camera versions looked like with no edits (aside from being scaled for upload to this site).  Here they are:

August 31st original:

July 20th original:

Friday Fitness Hike

Today, Bob, Amy, and I hiked the North Trail.  Bob and I continued on up the Chuparosa Trail when we got half way around the loop.  Once we got to the Pemberton, we hiked up to the 150th street trail before turning back.

Here is a view of Tom’s Thumb through a tangle of Palo Verde trees.  We weren’t that close to the McDowells, but I used the limited zoom capability on my camera and then cropped the result to make it look closer than it really is.

A saguaro:

The McDowells.  Tom’s Thumb, Morrell’s Wall, The Granite Ballroom, Sven Tower I, II, and  III, and Rock Knob are all visible in this photo.

Bob taking a photo of a Saguaro near the Chuparosa Trail:

Another view of the Chuparosa Trail.

I found two other crops of the above scene that I found interesting…

Even closer:

I used a tone mapped layer (using the Mantuik ’06 algorithm) in most of the above edits.  I’m happy with the detail that it provides, particularly in the mountains in the background.  In past edits, I often end up with very dark looking mountains without much detail.

 

Rock Knob

I got this photo during last Sunday’s bike ride.  Rock Knob is the smaller mountain (hill?) in the foreground.  (It looks more like a huge jumble of boulders in this photo than any kind of defined “knob”.)  Part of it resides in McDowell Mountain Park; the rest of it is in the preserve.  The McDowell mountain range is behind Rock Knob in this picture.

I was looking for a way to explicate the detail in the rocks.  Tone mapping with Fattal does the job really well, but I often find the results jarring to my eyes, even while I admire the degree of detail that the algorithm produces.  Fattal also produces some significant halos.

I ended up tone mapping the image with Mantuik ’06.  I hadn’t spent much time playing around with this algorithm because the defaults in Luminance HDR don’t produce appealing results.  After playing with some of the parameters, however, I started seeing more results that I liked better.  These are the parameter values I used:

  • Contrast Factor: 0.50
  • Saturation Factor: 2.00
  • Detail Factor: 1.00
  • Contrast Equalization: Enabled

Although I had three exposures to work with, I only used one as the histogram was fairly well contained.

One problem that I had with the result of the tone mapping is that the lower right corner was extremely dark.  It was unacceptably dark after level adjustment in Luminance HDR.  I ended up adjusting the levels with GIMP instead using a gradient mask in the lower corner to avoid darkening that portion even more.

I found out that the dark lower corner is a known (and unfixed) bug in the implementation of Mantuik ’02 in Luminance HDR.  There is another implementation in pfstools.  For the image below, I used the following command to do the processing:

pfsin DSC04492.JPG | pfstmo_mantiuk06 -s 1 -e 0.4 | pfsview

I loaded that result into GIMP, loaded the original image, DSC04492.JPG, as the top layer and then set its layer mode to color.  Aside from scaling it, I did no other edits in GIMP.  Without the color transfer the color was kind of blah.  Luminance HDR allows saturation values between 0 and 2; pfstmo_mantuik06 only allows saturation values between 0 and 1, inclusive.  I used 1, but there still wasn’t much saturation.

Here is the above image again, with the saturation bumped up even more.

For comparison purposes, here’s the original file, DSC04492.JPG, scaled to be 1080 pixels high.

A View from the Pemberton as Dusk Approaches

This is another shot from last Sunday’s bike ride.  It was taken from the Pemberton Trail, perhaps a quarter mile from the site of the old homestead.

Palo Verde Tree and Four Peaks

I’ve taken several photos of this tree on recent fitness hikes where we’ve hiked the Bluff Trail.  It’s right at the top of Bluff sitting atop a small hill by itself.  I hadn’t gotten a shot that I liked until yesterday when I took a photo of it during my bike ride.

I had my camera set up for exposure bracketing; I processed two raw files three times – one of them twice and the other one only once – to provide three layers that I blended together to form this picture.

If you look closely, you can see part of the bench that’s also atop that small hill.

Sunday Bike Ride on the Pemberton

It was a cool day for September – only 85 degrees – so I went out for a bike ride on Sunday afternoon.

The trails were in remarkably good condition after the monsoon rain that we got on Friday. The rain washed away some of the dirt surrounding the rock on some parts of the trail, making it even more fun than usual.  I did encounter this big rut.  I started to go down the left side of the rut – or right in this photo – but realized that I’d end up in the rut towards the bottom. I was able to stop before getting into trouble.  I decided to put my bike in a deep section of it and take this photo.

I had different plans for this photo while editing it, but I clicked “Auto” in the Levels tool.  I thought, “Wow, look at that color.”  I dialed it back just a bit and saved it.  I might redo it to bring it more in line with how it really looked at that time of day.  The sky was actually a darker blue with just a hint of red and purple in some places.

Another shot of my bike just a short ways away from where the photo above was taken.

Friday Fitness Hike, Monsoon Edition

Today’s hike started at the Wagner Trailhead.  Bob, Janet, Linda, Amy, and I hiked the Wagner to the Granite, and turned onto a trail unofficially known as the “Cowboy” trail.  Ranger Amy hiked out perhaps halfway with us on the Cowboy Trail before turning back to open the visitor center.

Bob took this photo of the four of us just prior to Amy turning back.  (The colors are a bit off today.  I haven’t quite gotten the knack of getting the white balance right when converting RAW files.  The skies often ended up more purple than I wanted them to be.)

Here’s another version of the above photo with possibly more accurate colors.  (I might be starting to figure out some of the problems I was having with the RAW conversion.)  Marie tells me it’s better, but Marilyn likes the one above.  So I’m leaving them both here for those who’ve already looked at the one above and have decided they like it.

The Cowboy Trail eventually runs into the Pemberton at the north end of the park.  Linda mentioned that she had not seen that part of the Pemberton yet.  Below is a view of the McDowells from the portion of Pemberton that’s also a service road.

This photo was taken from the Pemberton perhaps less than a mile from the intersection with the Delsie Trail.

We saw this large buckhorn cholla at or around the time that we turned onto the Delsie Trail.

As we hiked the Delsie Trail, we saw interesting looking clouds off in the distance.  We had already been hearing distant thunder for much of the hike.  We could see rain off in the distance.

Linda took this photo of some yellow flowers and me taking pictures of the storms far off in the distance.

Linda also took this photo of Bob and Janet.  Tom’s Thumb is visible in the distance above and slightly to the (viewer’s) right of Bob’s hat.

I didn’t think we’d be hiking in the rain today, but I was wrong.  Here’s a photo of Bob, Linda, and Janet hiking fast once it became clear that heavy rain was on the way.

When it started to rain hard, I put my camera under my rain jacket that I had stuffed in the outer compartment of my pack.  Strong winds made the rain come down sideways.  My clothing was soaked in under than a minute.  We were hiking into the wind – I put my sunglasses on for a while in an attempt to keep the rain from getting in my eyes.

After a while of trudging through the rain, my eyes began to sting.  I think the rain dissolved the salt accumulated in my hat and was washing it into my eyes.  Eventually, the rain starting coming merely down instead of coming at us sideways too.  I was able to see again.

Bob and Janet got well ahead of us while I was hiking somewhat more slowly due to not being able to see very well.  Linda hiked with me.  We talked about the lightning and thunder we were seeing and hearing.

After what seemed like a very long time, we got to the Granite Trail and then the Wagner Trail.  During that time the rain abated, but did not completely stop.

We frequently hike across washes and sometimes even through them on our hikes, but we almost never see them with any significant amount of water.  Today was different; there was enough water running in them that we nervous about fording them.

The photo below shows the last significant wash that we had to cross on the Wagner trail prior to getting back to our vehicles.

When we got back to the Trailhead, we were met by Ranger Amy and Mark, another park employee.  They had been concerned about us because we were out hiking during a monsoon.  We assured them we were okay and, after chatting a while, we got in our cars and drove home.

But driving home wasn’t as easy as normal.  As we were leaving the park, we saw that Sheriff’s deputies had stopped traffic on the road leading to Rio Verde.  Linda decided to return home by way of Fountain HIlls, but that proved to be a problem too because there’s a good sized wash between the park entrance and Fountain Hills.  Linda took this photo of me studying the wash to see if I could cross it.  A truck is crossing it there.  After seeing that truck and several other vehicles cross, I decided that I could cross too.  (And I did.)

Linda decided to turn around and wait for the deputies to reopen the section of road leading to Rio Verde.  She took this photo while she was waiting.

 

 

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