Family Day weekend found us once again at Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake, in Keene, Ontario. We thought we'd combine the best parts of a winter long weekend, Valentine's Day and an early birthday celebration for me.
 
The Friday night was a clear sky, despite the snow squalls from earlier that day. About 11pm, I decided I'd try to get some night sky shots from off the lake. The resort had cleared and tested an area for ice skating on the lake, so I figured I'd be safe enough in that area.
 
What I hadn't counted on, were the flood lights, illuminating the rink area. It's amazing, when you're making 15 - 20 second exposures, how far that light seems to reach! I decided to try including the snow covered lake in some of the shots for contrast and scale, but ended up only selecting one image from that angle.
 
My phone app, PhotoPills, helped me figure out where the Milky Way was supposed to be, although it was very faint in my shots, and needed a lot of coaxing from Lightroom for even the subtlest of appearance.
 
Every shot in this project was captured with my trusty Rokinon 14mm lens, at ISO 2000, f/2.8
One challenge with the Rokinon is that if the camera is not completely level, the edges of the image can suffer from some pretty extreme distortion. This was exactly the case in the image below; in the original shot, the cottages and trees were noticeably distorted. Then I remembered reading an article where the photographer had used the Liquify tool in Photoshop to straighten out curved horizons. I figured it was worth a shot, so I brought the image into PS as a Smart Object. Using a very large brush size, I was able to gently push the cottages back into a more accurate representation.
The stars aren't too visible in this shot, but  it's a decent image of the main building at Elmhirst, from an angle I've always liked. This too was shot with the Rokinon lens, and needed a fair amount of help in Photoshop using the Adaptive Wide Angle and Liquify Filters. While this is an HDR image, I really should have bracketed further apart, to pull the sky in better. Below is small example of the original image.
One of the original brackets, the left side of the building is obviously pulling, and the right side of the building is barrelling a bit.
Black and White at Night
It always amazes me how things change when an image is seen in shades of grey. In colour, my eyes focused on the colours and the odd mixing of colour from the halogen floodlights at the ice rink and the tungsten floodlights along the boardwalk. In black and white, those blending colors transformed into shadows, highlighting subtle ridges in the snow on the lake, and - in my opinion - creating a greater sense of depth and space in the image.
I hope you've enjoyed this midnight walk with me on a cold winter's night. At least you got to stay warm! :-)

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