A Slice of Pye

Here is a “Slice of Pye”, and by that I mean the purple flower, Joe Pye Weed. This image was taken earlier this week in Massachusetts, on the morning after a night of bad thunderstorms. Joe Pye weed grows in wetland areas, and in August this wetland meadow has frequent early morning ground fog. The morning after the overnight thunderstorm , the weather front was clearing out, and left these beautiful clouds at sunrise. And the moisture from the rain also created some nice ground fog.

Last year, I met NPN members @Ed_Lowe and @Michael_Lowe at this location to shoot, and unfortunately we got skunked by dense fog that obscured the sunrise. I had a little better luck in 2020, and if this pandemic ever ends, maybe in 2021 the Lowe brothers can return and get something like this.

This image is a manual blend of exposure brackets for dynamic range.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Any critique or comments are welcome

Original Post



It is already on my calendar for 2021. We would have made the trip this year other than the pandemic wrecking it’s havoc on the world. I thought briefly about tempting fate, but decided I was not comfortable staying in a motel room yet.

You are so fortunate to have this lovely location so close to your home. When conditions are right this place is magical as it certainly was this particular morning. I think you filled the frame beautifully starting with the Joe Pye weed, then the MG with the ground fog all topped off with the light show in the sky. The clouds are very striking as they fan out across the sky. I am looking forward to seeing what else you came away with that morning. I am jealous! :grinning:

I very much like the colors and comp. Never heard of Joe Pye, but you make it look as pretty as mountain lupine in your rendition. For me, though, the sky and the weeds look like they’re from distinctly different images. The light and color in the sky doesn’t seem to match that in the plants. Maybe the plants should be darker? I’m not really sure as I don’t do blends like this, but this does look blended, which usually isn’t the goal, I don’t think.

Nice image, Ed. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a meadow of naturalized Joe Pye Weed before. The garden variety I’m familiar with grows quite tall; unless you were on a ladder these must grow smaller.

The colors are really rich and beautiful. Nicely done - not oversaturated so commonly shown. I also appreciate the exposure balance between the sky and ground elements.

So not a luminosity mask? Just a blend of exposures? Really well done. Something I need to start doing. I’ve got a bunch of images from the last couple of years just waiting for winter when I take it up. Any advice on your technique or expectations for how long or how much effort I should put into it? Experts always make their craft look so easy.

Ed, all I can say is " this is so beautiful". You are too far from here,otherwise I should invite myself to come along with you and the Lowe brothers. Maybe one day as I win the lottery .

I really like how you were able to match the contour of the trees and the shape of the cloud. It shows finesse. I am with @Tony_Kuyper here about darkening the foreground flowers. It looks like it is just as bright as the sky. Another thing that jumps at me is the color of the sky, Ed. I don’t know if it is what Tony mentioned about the disunity between the colors of the sky and the flowers but there is something feels a little off. One thing that I would explore is probably shifting the hue of the blue in the sky; it feels a little bit too cyan?

Beautiful light and color Ed but agree with the others on darkening the foreground.

This looks great to me, lighting works for me as presented. I might give it a slight CCW rotation, but maybe that is my tilted view of the world. Excellent conditions and excellent mood and scene.

This is a familiar subject for you and this is a really excellent example of returning to a spot close to home under different conditions. I admire your blending skills and I think this looks quite natural with the exception of one nit. The cyan in the sky seems a touch off to my eye.
It sounds like you may have an NPN meetup in this field next year :wink:

I must agree with @Matt_Lancaster. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Joe Pye growing wild like this. What a awesome opportunity! Colors are fantastic throughout. I like this image very much.

I would love a slice of that “Pye”, Ed. This is beautiful. Glad the lighting and fog worked out for you this year, and hopefully it will for you and the Lowe brothers next year.

Hi Ed,

This image a surreal dream like feel to it for me. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a red/magenta sky with fog on the horizon. What wonderful conditions.

I would experiment with reducing the contrast of the horizon line of the mid-ground foliage and the fog. I feel that a smoother tonal transition there will help the flow from foreground to background.

Beautiful image Ed. I like the depth to the composition created by the perspective of the foreground flowers. The fog is just right to add interest to the middle ground and pull my eye into the sky. Nicely done!

Gorgeous work Ed! Is the lighter band of fog on the horizon really thick fog or was that a gradient from your blend? It doesn’t quite look right in relation to the tree top fog.

@Shirley_Freeman @Matt_Lancaster @Adhika_Lie @Ben_van_der_Sande @terryb @Ed_Lowe
@Richard_Wong @Brian_Schrayer @Nathan_Klein @Alan_Kreyger @Tony_Kuyper @Eva_McDermott @Harley_Goldman

Thank you all for your comments and input, the kind of advice you receive at NPN is so valuable. On this image I kind of lost the forest for the trees, and lost a sense of perspective. I have addressed some of the issues discussed, and posted a rework back up next to the original for comparison.

Tony Kuyper, thanks for the criticism of my blend, I did it too quickly and I agree a darker foreground would look more natural. Nathan Klein, the transition in the foggy horizon needed some work, and my rework tries for a smoother transition. Adhika, color is tricky in this one, my rework reduces cyan in the sky, and cools the foreground flowers. I’ll be interested to hear what people think about color in the rework.

The magic to this location is that it is a wetland that in late summer often gets low lying ground fog that drifts 5 to 10 above the ground, which creates the potential to include sunrise color and fog together. Richard, the fog does swirl and change in thickness across the meadow, but I think what you were seeing was mostly my clumsy first attempt at a blend, hopefully the rework looks better.

Luminosity Masks for blending primarily help with transition zones at horizons. This one had a pretty diffuse transition/horizon to start, so it was just as easy to blend by hand. Using LM’s can be a powerful technique, but there is a steep learning curve, and it takes more time to process an image. The Sean Bagshaw videos that accompany Tony’s TK actions do a good job explaining how-to blend with LM’s. A good winter-time project for you…

See above for rework…


I respond really well with this cooler foreground, Ed. It feels less overdone.

I also perceive a dramatic change in the vignette too, shifting the lighter part of the image slightly upwards; perhaps, in parts due to the slight darkening in the FG. This is also quite pleasing.

Even though I liked the original post, I like the rework even better. Nice job, Ed. Super pretty.

The original was really nice, but I also prefer slight tweaks to the rework.

Ed, you’re killing me here. LOL. I wish we had gotten something this good on our trip. Maybe next time. I was perfectly fine with your original post but the rework is a subtle improvement.

Ed, Sorry to be late in responding here. We have some Joe Pye Weed among our prairie flowers. Bees love it. I have never seen such a large spread of them at once. I like the contrast between the sharp and saturated Joe Pye in front and the softness beyond the fog - this nicely fades out as you get toward the horizon of fog. Terrific image.