It’s a steep climb up from Manarola on the path to Corniglia. Once you’re up on top though, it’s a fairly flat walk until you get just above Corniglia and start your descent. About half way down, I got this view of my destination.
In my post about Delphi I mentioned that I had made a return to Greece last February to tick a couple spots off the list that I’d missed, while inter-railing across Europe, due to an extended stay in Thessaloniki. The other place that I’ve been wanting to get back to is Meteora, where monasteries perch atop rock pinnacles. They used to be cut off from civilization with no roads leading to them. The method used for entry by most was formerly a rope net basket that the monks would climb into, to be hoisted up by the monks above turning a wooden winch. Standing on the edge of these and looking down was pretty terrifying.
When I arrived at the Hotel Honegg in Switzerland, I was recovering from a sprained ankle, so naturally I decided the first thing I should do is walk up the mountain behind the hotel. On the way back down, I stopped to take this panorama. This is comprised of six pictures so it took me quite a while to take them all. Once I was finished and packed up, I realized that I’d been stood blocking the view of a man sat on a bench behind me… jumped out my skin when he said “hallo!”.
San Pedro la Laguna from the viewpoint, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
To get to this vantage point we hired a tuk tuk to take us up the volcano. There’s a weird shack there with a viewpoint on top. The ground floor housed less than friendly dogs that snarled as we walked past. The tuk tuk driver hadn’t told us there was a charge for the viewing platform when we decided to hire him to take us up the hill, but sure enough, this weird structure in the middle of nowhere had a ticket booth complete with turnstiles.
The view back across the lake was pretty spectacular though.
It’s not easy to take photos from the top of the Shard as it is all enclosed in glass. As a result, I had to try to find a way to position my camera to avoid all the reflections of the people moving around behind me. We had arrived at just the right time though, as golden light bathed London below us.
On my way to snorkel the rift I spotted this waterfall over a ridge. Following our swim I decided to go up and take a closer look. I’m glad I did. It was a really peaceful scene as the sun set. I decided to shoot a panorama and fired off 7 shots, each bracketed at -2, 0, +2 so this photo is the result of combining 21 pictures together.
Failed trip into the Alps!
It seems like wherever I go, my first attempt to really strike out and take some photos failed. In Iceland it was trying to get to the most westerly point in Iceland, to photograph puffins, in one night. Today, it was an attempt to drive up a valley in the alps to see some snow-capped mountains. We set out too late, despite our careful sunset calculations and barely made it into the mountains as the sun began to drop. A great opportunity presented itself, a castle atop a hill lit beautifully by golden light but we couldn’t get off the highway to get down to it. By the time we came to an exit we decided we were too far along. By the next exit we decided to hop off and drive on the smaller roads so if any opportunities presented themselves we could actually stop. This meant guessing which roads to take. I guessed wrong and we began winding our way up a mountain with no easy way to turn around. Eventually, we got turned around and back down into the valley. By now the sun was on the verge of disappointing and panic had set in. We dashed back to the original castle. Trying to find a vantage point we parked in a town. Just as we were headed to a good view it was like a light switch had been flicked and the castle was blanketed by the shadows of the mountain. It was still a great drive, it’s just a bit disappointing coming back without a single photo!
Today’s Photo: Alice Bel Colle
My morning was much more successful. The hotel has a handy guide with a brief summary of all the surrounding towns. Alice Bel Colle caught my eye for its purpose built mound with a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape. We rose early and made our way there. Once atop the mound we weren’t disappointed by the view, though the heavy cloud cover wasn’t ideal.
I spotted a rift in the clouds with a bit of pink light coming through and realized I could frame it up just behind this church. I shot 3 exposures at -2, 0 and +2 which was plenty to cover the range in the scene as the clouds dampened the light considerably.
If you’re interested in finding this “secret” viewpoint, I provide a few clues as to its location in Niagara Skyline. It’s a pretty cool spot to find, even if you’re not looking to photograph the area. It’s definitely a different view compared to what most visitors to the falls get to see. Once up there I decided I had to try to capture the whole scene. So, I framed up four different shots and bracketed each for HDR. I wasn’t positive at the time how I’d go about stitching them together.
It turned out it was pretty involved. I had a total of 28 photographs to work with. These 28 images could have produced 4 HDR photographs to then stitch together. This approach caused me all sorts of problems with ghosting. Another significant problem was setting the sliders in Photomatix so that they’d be optimized for all four images. I kept ending up with dark areas in the final result. So, I changed my tactic.
In order to get this to work, I wound up grouping the exposures for each image together – meaning that i had seven sets of four images ranging from -3 stops to +3 stops. I stitched each of these together to create 7 huge images that I could then run through Photomatix. Unfortunately, this pushed the limits of my computer’s capabilities and I kept encountering error messages due to insufficient memory. I had been trying to use Photomatix’s deghosting tool to clean up people and vehicles that had moved through the frame. Eventually, I decided I’d have to do this in Photoshop after producing the tone mapped image. This reduced workload appeased my computer, and I had an HDR image to work with!
I went into Photoshop and layered the seven original exposures under the tone mapped image and masked away any ghosting I could find. It was pretty time-consuming and I’ve spent ages trying to figure out how to do it, but I’m happy with the results. I’ll be producing more stitched panoramic images going forward. I’ve got an idea for another shot at the top of Horseshoe Bay using this technique. I’ll give it a try once the weather decides to behave itself again.