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The Quality Of Light Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

22 December 2016

Half this job requires getting out of the chair, grabbing a camera and taking a hike. We may see something, we may not. But at least we get some exercise.

Looking South. The quality of light is what struck us.

Two days ago -- the last day of fall, in fact -- we hiked up Twin Peaks. It was about four degrees warmer than it had been, finally in the comfortable mid fifties instead of a chilly 50.

We managed to get up to the top without collapsing a lung or wearing out our soles. It's a steep climb, although the trails have recently been manicured. But the way to survive a steep climb is to take very small steps, hardly shifting your center of gravity. That way, you won't slip.

When we caught our breath we marveled in the light.

It was a Do Not Burn day, which means you can't burn wood in your fireplace because there's already too much particulate in the air. And we could see brown air hanging over the bay.

But as we walked back toward the south, the quality of the light made us stop dead in our tracks.

Glorious, we believe, is the word for it.

There was the ocean on the right, the bay on the left. You could almost see San Jose on the left, through the brown haze, and Pacifica on the right. San Bruno Mountain stood in the center, Mount Davidson a dark shadow on the right. The approach to Twin Peaks winding up the hill right in front of us.

Glorious, we believe, is the word for it.

But did we bring a camera? Did we sling the old D300 over our shoulder or pack the E-PL1 along? Um, no.

Still, we managed to get this shot. With an iPhone 6 Plus. And about 15 minutes with the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop CC.

We wouldn't be showing you this image without the work in Photoshop, frankly. It was not the same image straight from the phone.

But even as a 24-bit JPEG, we were able to significantly enhance it. Or should we say "intelligently" enhance it?

The camera and its algorithms can only do so much, like a self-driving car in a city of distracted drivers, each playing the game by their own rules. (Talking to you, Uber.)

But we were there with the camera. We know what we saw. We know what about the shot appealed to us. And we were able to reconstruct that with Camera Raw.

The crop helped too. Our brain is in telephoto mode. We hone in on details like the cascading mountain ranges. Those things are minimized with a very wide angle lens like the iPhone's. Almost deprecated.

So we cropped them back into prominence. Intelligently, you might say.

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