Tuesday, October 11, 2011

South Tufa Sunset

South Tufa Sunset - Canon 5D2, Zeiss 35 f/2, f/10, 2s, ISO 100.  7 frame stitch, 4 stop grad ND
I returned on Saturday from a weekend in the Eastern Sierras.  A lot of the fall color wasn't quite popping yet, but the trip was still productive.  The first shoot of the trip was on Friday evening up at Schulman Grove which was very cool but a bit cold (more on that in a future post).  The last shoot of the trip was at Mono Lake.

That afternoon, my friend Greg and I scouted the area for the evening.  We wanted to go somewhere a bit different from where all the other photographers would be lined up (Mono Lake in the fall on a weekend gets very very busy).  When I first saw this scene, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.  Its been my experience from previous trips that its difficult to do an expansive landscape at the South Tufa area, but on this spot, if there weren't too many other photographers and the skies co-operated, it would be possible.  When we returned shortly before sunset, to our relief there was only a couple of other photographers at this location and there were clouds in the sky (improving the odds of dramatic sky color).  Sure enough, everything came together and I was able to capture the kind of image I had in my mind.


Since I was doing a panoramic with many frames, I wanted to capture all the information for one panel in a single shot.  I used a Singh-Ray 4 stop soft grad ND which was perfect to get the foreground and background illumination balanced.

I often get asked how much post processing I do on my images.  Its very rare that I adjust saturation in post (unless its to desaturate) and most of my work tends to be tone curve work, usually done locally.   I had to adjust some tones locally to account for some blending errors in the stitching algorithm.  A lot of the work was in getting the illumination more even across the frame (the left side was a bit brighter).


Here is the full set of adjustment layer work I did on this image.  As you can see a lot of curves layers and a lot of them masked with a very soft brush.

I have a 24"x46" print of this image hanging in my office and its pretty spectacular.  If you use the Zoomify version above you can see how much detail gets captured.  I don't know why the Zoomify colors are wacky, but the colors on the top of this post are the correct ones.
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