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No Lions, No Tigers, But Bears, Oh My!

We eventually happened across a lake called Bow Lake, which was actually quite picturesque.  I plopped down my tripod and did my usual pano thing, and after just chilling with Nolan and Sylvia for a while, we decided it was time to go.  I set up my tripod to take a non-panorama shot of the scene, and realized for some reason my camera wasn't focusing properly.  After looking through the camera settings, I found out that I accidentally switched my lens to manual focus, so I quickly changed it back to regular autofocus and snapped a couple of frames.  You may be wondering why I wasted your time with this seemingly insignificant detail - when I got home and went through my frames, I realized my panorama shots were taken with my lens at manual focus, and unfortunately, it was focused incorrectly.  Not quite sure how I didn't catch it as I was framing the picture, but I completely missed it.  Moral of the story - take a quick look at your pictures after you take them to ensure focus is correct =P

Anyways, I'll show one shot I took that was in focus, again to highlight a camera's dynamic range.

bowdark.jpg

A nice silhouette of the vista, but I brought it into Lightroom to see how much detail I could recover.  The following is the same file, brightened in Lightroom:

bowlight

That's pretty incredible.  With the ability to recover this much detail, some people wonder why I even bother with HDR - two reasons mainly.  Firstly, although it's hard to tell in this picture, increasing the brightness this much allows something we photographers call noise to rear its ugly head (think of noise as grains of pepper in an image, which robs the picture of some its detail).  Secondly, sometimes increasing the brightness this much may cause some color inconsistencies.  Since I love to print big (which makes noise more evident), I still use HDR to try and maximize quality.

On our way back, we noticed some cars pulled over on the side of the road, with some photographers leaning out of their open windows, trying to get shots.  This could only mean one thing in the language of photographers - bears!  We quickly pulled over, and being the idiot I am, I grabbed my camera and ran out of the car.  

bear01.jpg
bear02.jpg
bear03.jpg

Luckily for me, mama bear and baby bear were more then content to do their thing - if mama bear saw me as a threat, I might not be here typing this blog =P  A few of the photographers there later told me that if I ever decide to get out of the car to take pictures of bears without any barriers, I need to have bear spray at the very minimum.  Always better to be prepared, right?