Colorful Cloud Reflections At Blackwater NWR

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland has a lot of interesting cloud formations to photograph. On this visit years ago the Clouds & Sky were very colorful and had Great Reflections in the water. The Featured Image was taken with a 12mm lens on a Canon 1D mkII. I liked the sun lighting up the colorful clouds and the reflections in the water.

Blackwater NWR Sunrise Panoramas

These images are a series of multi-image panoramas of a Blackwater NWR Sunrise on a visit there in July 2018. Blackwater NWR is a great place to visit for sunrise & sunsets. We were trying to get there for the sunrise and we just made it before the sunrise started. Most images were taken with a Canon 1D mkIV with a 24-105mm lens at various focal lengths. The featured image is made from 12 horizontal images taken @ 85mm to show less foreground and more height to the distant tree line. The full final size pano is 118″ long x ~20″ high.

Pre-Sunrise when arriving at Wildlife Drive entrance, Little Blackwater River, Canon 1D mkIV, 12-24mm lens @ 24mm
Pre-Sunrise, Wildlife Drive entrance, Little Blackwater River, single image, @75mm, 24-105mm, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive entrance, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 24mm, 8 image pano, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 24mm, 10 image pano, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 24mm, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 24mm, 8 image pano, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 85mm, 12 image pano, 1D mkIV
Sunrise along Wildlife Drive, Little Blackwater River, 24-105mm @ 105mm, 2 horizontal images, stacked, 1D mkIV

Blackwater NWR Landscape

I was going through old files and found this Blackwater NWR Landscape from a few years ago. I liked the clouds accenting the tree line on the right side. This was taken with a 17-40mm lens @ 17mm. I was surprised because it was a lens I hardly ever used preferring a 12-24mm instead. Landscapes at Blackwater NWR can be spectacular, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. This image was taken in late afternoon before sundown.

High Flight Of Snow Geese At Blackwater NWR

We went for 2 days to photograph at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland. Early in the morning, along the Wildlife Drive on the second day we saw a huge flock of Snow Geese flying out under a heavy cloud cover. They were quite high and took a few minutes for the waves of them to pass by. Probably 500 to 700 (or more) passed by in multiple waves.



14-140mm lens @ 14mm with Olympus OMD Mk1

Blackwater NWR Thunderhead Cloud Panorama

I am still going over images I shot earlier this year towards the end of Summer. Work seems to have gotten in the way of doing this sooner. This is from the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, one of our favorite places to photograph. Especially for Eagles and landscapes. The clouds were amazing this day which was great for panorama landscapes. I liked the colors and brightness in the center of the Thunderhead cloud and shot the series so there was more darkness below the cloud. I thought it made the cloud stand out more and look more interesting. I was using 4 different cameras this day, depending on what I was photographing with lenses ranging for the Canon Bodies from 12-24mm, 24-105mm, 300mm & 400mm and a few macro lenses. We never know until we get there what we will find interesting to photograph. So we usually bring an assortment of lenses. Birds were scarce, so we concentrated on Dragonflies and landscapes. For this image I was using a m43 Camera with a Panasonic 14-140mm lens, equivalent to 28mm FOV on a Full-Frame Camera. I only used 2 horizontal images stacked because with a third it seemed too square to me and lost some impact. Lately I seem to be doing more panoramas or stacked images mainly for the practice & challenge of them working out. Plus it is fun (when it Works!) Also images tend to work out better when you have tried various techniques and know when to shoot more or less for certain situations. It does seem the wider you go with the lens, the harder it is to blend sometimes. Below are with the 12-24mm on a Canon Body.


Looking out from the middle of the Lookout Platform – @12mm, 3 Vertical images panorama

BWR_Lndscp_MAL5944 v2

Opposite Direction on the Lookout Platform – Early am – 3 img horizontal panorama @ 12mm


4 horizontal images @ 22mm panorama – looking out from behind Information Kiosk


Looking down the Wildlife Drive by the Observation Platform – 2 img vertical panorama to include large main cloud

CloudBurst At Blackwater

I liked these clouds by the lookout platform at Blackwater NWR. It reminded me of a starburst, but with clouds. I decided to leave the top of a small tree as a center point for a visual center to draw your eye. Three images @24mm, combined in Photoshop with layered masks for blending the three images.


Blackwater NWR Sunrise

The featured Sunrise image is a series of horizontal images stacked vertically to get more of the colorful clouds and sky at sunrise. Five images shot at 12mm, aligned and blended together manually in Photoshop with soft edge masks. This view is not far from the entrance on the Wildlife Drive looking out over The Little Blackwater River.


6 images, horizontal, overlapping & combined manually in Photoshop for final image

The image below is around the corner from the featured & above image, by the Observation Platform, looking out at the Blackwater River.

6_Sunset v2_MAL7908

Blackwater River Panorama Landscapes Near Sundown

When we were going to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, we planned for the first day to include the sunset and the second day to be there for the sunrise. Usually they are very dramatic and colorful at Blackwater NWR. Normall we go to the end of the Wildlife Drive for sunsets and the beginning of the Wildlife Drive for sunrise. The sunrises are better on the Little Blackwater River. While the sunsets are better by the Blackwater River. While we were on the Wildlife Drive heading for the far end, we noticed and liked the colorful clouds on the Blackwater River so we stopped and shot a few panoramas as the sun was getting lower. Even with 12mm or 24mm lenses, it still did not give me all I wanted in my shots. So I shot a series of images handheld, to blend together to get the view I wanted. The featured image was a series of shots in a vertical format to blend together. I wanted to include more sky and reflections in the water. The image below was a series of images shot horizontally to blend together.  With 12mm or 24mm lenses it seems like you have to shoot the images with a lot more overlap on each image than with longer lenses. Also instead of using Photoshop to automatically align and blend the images, they come out better to manually align each image manually and make soft edge masks to blend together for the final image. Photoshop tends to really distort the few images on each end and distort the edges badly, especially the extreme images on each end. The clouds and reflections then look really distorted and warped.


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