Extremadura Skies

August 26, 2008 By: erik Category: Extremadura, Geeky, Photos, Science, Spain 773 views

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Farm Work (Crop)During my recent trip to Extremadura, I took walks in the evening right around the 9:30ish sunset almost every day. For most of these walks, my eyes were glued to the absolutely stunning skies. Coming from the north of Spain, visiting relatively flat, relatively treeless, relatively small housing in Extremadura reminds me of the first time I was in the Nevada desert: So much sky!

We traveled on the new moon and stayed 14 days until the full moon, so I got to watch as the moon appeared every night, first in the west with the setting sun as a little sliver, and later full in the east, competing with the setting sun for glory like a boxer in the opposite corner of the ring.

Without further ado, let’s go for a walk under Extremadura skies. Vote for your favorite in the comments.Sunset Wheat

1) Sunset wheat.

Sunset Through Tree

2) Sunset through a tree.

Sunset Fire Tree

3) Tree of fire!!

Sunset over pig pen

4) Sunset over a pig pen. Can you see the pig?

Adios, Señor Sol!

5) Adios, Señor Sol! This is what a sunset looks like in a cloudless sky. I watched the sun touch the horizon and disappear behind it while seated at table with beer and family. Nice.

Moon Sliver Over Sunset

6) Moon sliver wide. I was disappointed that it took me so long to notice it. But it was fun to play the “Cool! Look at the moon!”, “Where?” game with people.

Moon Sliver

7) Moon sliver cropped.


8) Another cloudless sunset.

Handheld Setting Moon Attempt

9) A beautiful failure. This was a handheld attempt at photographing the moon sliver. Because there was so little light, the camera had to hold the shutter open for a full 2.5 seconds, and no one can hold a camera perfectly still for that long. So I had to search for something to steady the camera on.

Moonset with fencepost tripod

10) Fencepost tripod.

Moonset with fencepost tripod (Crop)

11) Fencepost tripod, cropped.

Sunset through trees

12) Sunset through the trees, with electrical pole.

Layered Sunset

13) Layered Sunset. This photo and the next one were the only two I took one day when I carried my tripod just outside the town to catch some sunset action.

HDR-ish sunset

14) Attempted HDR. I was really undereducated when I went out to attempt my first High Dynamic Range photograph. I wasn’t aware that it requires at least 5 or 6 different shots. I took two. Photoshop’s HDR tool failed miserably, but when I tried the Photomerge tool (what I use for stitching panoramas), it figured out to split the two shots right at the horizon, successfully capturing the textured sky and rocky grass landscape below. Nice.

Evening sky

15) Nice clouds with horizontal lighting.

Farm Work

16) Farm work at sunset.

Farm Work (Crop)

17) Farm work sunset, cropped. This might be my favorite.

Dad helps sons with kite

18) Dad helps sons with kite. They had been flying this kite, which would have made an awesome shot, but they were finishing and packing up the kite when I got to them. Darn.

Juan and Belén

19) Juan and Belén walking out to find Marga and me on our walk.

Tree at Sunset

20) I love the circular shape of this tree.

Wispy Clouds and Moon

21) Red cirrus. Just when I thought the photogenic sunset was over for the evening, I glanced up and these cirrus clouds were glowing red.

Moon in Red Shroud

22) Red shroud. A close-up of the moon from the previous photograph, in case you didn’t notice it.


23) Pond at dusk.

Brush Strokes

24) Red brush strokes. iPhone held steady on the roof of a car.

Sunset Over Farm

25) The same farm from above on the last day. Lovely.

There are two more photographs of sunset skies, but they are too special and deserve their own post. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite.

  • Paul

    1st – #23, Pond at Dusk
    2nd – #17, Sunset Farm Work, cropped
    3rd – #1, Sunset Wheat

    Honorable Mention – #5, Adios Señor Sol, #14, First HDR

  • 14 (even though I mostly cannot stand HDR) and 17.

  • That’s because most HDR is done horribly wrong. The point is to more accurately capture what the human eye sees. Most HDRers (?) don’t understand that. But when it’s done right, it can be amazing.

    I look to be practicing some HDR in the future.

  • aquariumdrinker

    I second Erik’s comments, and would add that when HDR is done right (by my lights), it is invisible. HDR at its best is a workaround for dealing with the limitations of the capture and display technologies.

    I’ve been meaning to write a post on this for a while. I edit my subjects in Photoshop quite a bit, removing zits, bug bites, bags under eyes, drool… Mostly because I think that accuracy consists not of being faithful to what my CMOS captured at at a particular time (at a particular aperture and a particular shutter speed), but of getting that data as close as I can to what I remember of the moment and the ones around it. Stopping at the rays of light that hit my retina (or the camera’s sensor) almost always misses the point.

    (Except when the drool is part of the point.)

  • But your daughter is still the most beautiful blond toddler angel ever, right, ‘drinker? Don’t burst my bubble here, man.

    I briefly considered trying to edit out some of the power lines in the above photos, but I thought it might be a little dishonest am too lazy. But I totally understand your photoshopping philosophy.

  • aquariumdrinker

    Truth be told, I don’t have a daughter. That’s some girl I scanned from a diaper commercial and keep pasting into our “family” pictures.

  • I knew it! Props on your mad pshop skillz, tho.

  • Popular Photography just had an article about stitching pictures together exactly as you did in #14 in order to get good exposures of sky and foreground. And before there was digital, there were graduated neutral density filters. I would say that you a prime candidate for a set of them. Best part: they are (relatively) dirt cheap. See also:

    Oh, and I vote for the beautiful failure. But you knew that.

  • ‘you’re’. Boys climbing my knees.

  • 1, 9 and 22.

  • I agree that done right HDR is helpful. Mostly I see it done badly and it makes my eyes bleed.