Foto Friday – Discovery

Foto Friday - Discovery

Taken with the Nikon D40 near the Sand Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah on October 11, 2008. Manual Exposure Mode, 18mm, 1/25 sec f/7.1, ISO 800, Nikon Raw Format converted to Adobe DNG format. Edited in Lightroom 2.2.

We visited Snow Canyon on the weekend that tons of snow fell in Salt Lake (very strange) so it was still pretty cold in the St. George area.  We were playing on the sand dunes and not having much fun because of some strong and frigid wind (the girls and babies stayed in the car)!  Nate, Jake, and I decided to explore some rocks where the wind wouldn’t be so strong.  We came across this wonderful place and got some great photos. 

Some have expressed that this photo gives a feeling of entrapment; however, I feel much more excitement and sense of discovery from the light emerging from above to wrap around the rock and define the boundaries of the dark shadows below.  Perhaps some trove of knowledge, treasure, or even you are hiding in the shadow waiting to be discovered.  The pathway to discovery is often made with lots of texture, nooks, bumps, intriguing surfaces, angles that are perplexing yet fascinating at the same time, and filled with the great contrast that life has to offer.  Enjoy the ride and I hope you enjoy this image.

I took this photo back in October and I didn’t get a chance to work on it until this week.  What a treat it was to edit the Snow Canyon photos.  I really enjoy that place and feel that I have many more pictures to make of that park.  I hope that the Lightroom users out there will benefit from my processing description this week.  I have a cool tip for you.

My edits to this image in Lightroom 2 were not really extensive, although they were very deliberate.  I spent a long time working to get the boundaries of shadow and light just how I wanted them.  Too bad that none of you have calibrated screens to really see it right, sigh.  I worked mostly in the Treatment panel by converting the color image (by the way, it is always better to shoot in color and do the conversion to black and white in post – I’ll explain this sometime soon) and working with the exposure, blacks, contrast, and clarity sliders.  I increased the exposure by 3/4 of a stop to get the a really bright light from above.  Toggling on and off the alt key (command on mac) while increasing the black point (using the blacks slider) gives a very cool view of the how much of the photo is going completely black (this means all detail or texture in that area is no longer visible).  I used that approach to find the sweet-spot for the shadows.  I adjusted the contrast slider to give a little more separation to the lights and darks, then adjusted to the clarity slider (mid-tone sharpening) to bring out a little more texture in the gray areas of the image.  I almost forgot to mention that I used the adjustment brush (this allows me to make changes to specific parts of the image as part of the raw workflow – very cool) to darken the rock mass on the upper left part of the frame.  If you have a specific question about the editing please leave me a question in the comments.

A couple people have asked us for a few tips on how to improve their pictures of people.  Julie and I plan to put together a few tips that really helped us and guide a lot of the pictures we take.  Hopefully that will be beneficial for you all.  That’s all for this week.  Hope you enjoyed this image.  Have a great week and have fun behind the lens.

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