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mtngal Mar 28, 2010 12:39 AM

Strange "Trees"
Last weekend I went looking for wildflowers, and on my way home, happened to notice that there were blooms on the Joshua Trees.

So I wandered over to a state park that has a whole bunch of them and took some pictures. I discovered that these are rather dumb plants (they are related to lilies and are not trees at all) and are harder to photograph than I had expected. None of the pictures of blooms excited me at all for some reason, these were about the only ones I thought worth doing much about. This first one is really more about the sky than anything else.

Part of the problem is that it was more hazy most of the time I was there - a rather bright white/grey sky that did nothing for these plants (I thought this type of lighting was good for flowers because it was more even lighting and colors are supposed to be more saturated, but it sure didn't work that way).

These were 5 frames, processed with Photomatix. These plants are just so odd and they fascinate me. By the way, the "leaves" are very stiff and the ends quite sharp. It was tight at the spot I took the second one and it was impossible not to get poked getting in and out of the clump of them.

Ancientritual Mar 28, 2010 2:30 AM

I really like the second shot. Very dynamic with the sun peeking through the leaves. Processing is very well done. That's a keeper.

bahadir Mar 28, 2010 5:16 PM

I agree with Ancientritual on #2 especially, in which you've picked an exciting point of view and despite the wild (!!) dynamic range, attained a faithful 'photographic' look from five exposures.

mtngal Mar 28, 2010 6:32 PM

Thanks! Here's another HDR (more or less), this time of the bloom. I say more or less because it was windy and I was hand-holding these. While the bloom itself was fine, the spines/leaves on the left had a lot of ghosting. So I took the left side from the middle exposure (and didn't worry about the sky too much on that side) and the bloom and sky from the HDR version. There's still one spot with some ghosting but I'm not going to mess with it any more. I think it gives a good view of the blooms - they aren't spectacular in color but are really unusual looking. They seem to be an icon of the Western US and the desert, almost as much as Arizona's Saguaro cactus.

They are native to the SW US and live mostly in the Mojave desert. I wonder if they've been introduced to other desert climates? Perhaps no one would want to, they are very strange looking, I wouldn't call them pretty.

bahadir Mar 29, 2010 2:51 AM

Makes a nice hybrid of middle shot and the hdr, which is a good method of dealing with ghosting. The bloom stands out, which, I think, was your concern, and attained here ;)
As for the top left corner; the part loks as if there's a patch of cloud at the background. So, no worries as you mentioned. However, you may select the region to gain some more information by Highlight/shadow tool and then pick the colour on the righthandside by the colour picker and apply that colour there with the brush tool at an opacity of %15 or so. Just a thought : )

mtngal Mar 29, 2010 10:58 AM

I did think about using the clone tool set to color and trying to go over the corner but didn't think I had the patience for cutting around all those leaves It might work better to do it on layers (i.e., copy the sky on the right, put it on a separate layer under the picture layer then select the light of the left corner and delete it, letting the darker sky show through). Just wasn't sure I wanted to mess with the selection process and figured it was good enough for my purposes, which was to show off the bloom.

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