A Photo From My Last Space Mission (Sigma DP2s)

Surface of Planet X

Sigma DP2s, ISO 50, f/8, 8.0 secs.

“Here’s a photo of a new planet from my last space mission.”

I would love to be able to say that someday but I have to be realistic, because these sorts of missions are a little more expensive than what I can get sponsorship for from the likes of, say, GoLite or the Astronaut Ice Cream Shop, and then there’s the whole logistical problem of trying to send the photo back to Twitter in planetary systems with limited satellite coverage, etc.

So for now, I’ll settle for illusions.

I’ve walked past this hot spring in Yellowstone National Park dozens of times, but last weekend was the first time where everything clicked: soft light during the evening of a severely rainy day while I was carrying a camera capable of capturing its color and smoothing its bubbles, with a tripod, and a few key filters.

I’ve been experimenting with an interesting setup with the Sigma DP2s lately in an effort to eke out as much image quality as possible with as little post-processing (computer time) as possible, and this image is one of the first satisfactory results of those efforts:

I’m using the Lensmate 52mm filter adapter on the Sigma DP2s with a Singh-Ray LB Color Combo Polarizer and a Heliopan 3-stop ND filter. All of this is mounted to a Gitzo 1541 tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-25 ball head. I use a cheap hotel shower cap for rain protection while I’m composing and adjusting settings, and a tiny viscose towel to sponge off the little drops of water that accumulate on the filters during rain, right before the snap. A Photon Microlight allows me to see the buttons on the camera when the light fades. On this trip, I also carried a Micro Four Thirds camera (Panasonic GF1) to take side by side shots that reminded me why I love the Foveon sensor and abhor the MFT format for landscapes, which makes me spend more time in front of the computer for lesser results for uglier prints.

The only post processing I did on this image was a small bit of contrast adjustment, and a little bit of burning along the top to create the illusion of a space horizon. The rest is handled in camera by the Sigma DP2s, and delivered in its exceptional RAW files.