This is my submission for this week’s After-Before Friday Forum. The Forum is managed by Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing and enables participants and readers to exchange ideas about bringing their vision of an image into reality. The submissions from all participants for this week can be seen at this link later today.
The location of this week’s submission, Reflection Lakes, is well known to those who have visited Mount Rainier National Park. It was photographed at sunrise, and there was an extreme dynamic range between the sunlight snow on the mountain and the darks trees in deep shade along the lake. Other complications included a totally clear sky and a mess of construction material along the shore in the foreground. But on the positive side, it was only a 50-foot walk from my car, it was a beautiful morning, and I had the view all to myself.
The “Before” image below is the original RAW file, with no changes made. It was slightly underexposed to ensure detail was retained in the bright areas and none was lost in the dark shadows. (Nikon D800E on tripod with 14-24mm f/2.8 lens extended to 18mm; exposure: 1/60th at f/16, ISO 800, EV= -0.67). If you look closely at the bottom, you will see a small portion of the repair work going on. I knew I would be able to crop it out and there was nothing in the empty sky to warrant raising the level of the camera.
I made more use of the capabilities of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) than usual, including some work with the gradient tool. The first steps lowered the brightness in the upper portions of the image and opened up the shadows in the lower sections. The ACR settings were as follows:
Highlights: Decrease to -49
Shadows: Increase to +66
Clarity: Increase to +51 (much higher than usual)
Vibrance: Increase to +38
Still using Camera Raw, a gradient tool was then applied. The image below is a screen shot of the ACR dialog screen for the Gradient tool (green arrow). The gradient was dragged from the top to the middle of the image (shown by red arrows). The settings in the Gradient Filter section were then adjusted to decrease the exposure to -1.30, the clarity increased to +25, and the saturation increased to +47. While these numbers sound large, the impact is fairly subtle when used in this fashion.
The last bit of worked was done in Photoshop CC. The image was then opened in Photoshop CC. The healing brush was used to do some clean-up (a few dust spots on the sensor and a few lens flares from the sun) and then the image was cropped to eliminate the construction junk in the foreground and a bit of the sky which was detracting from the scene. A hue/saturation adjustment layer with just a slight increase was added to the overall scene and then Mount Rainier was darkened a bit more with a curves adjustment layer. The final result is shown below.
Thanks again to Stacy for organizing this forum. It is always interesting to see the techniques applied by other photographers to solve problems and bring their creative vision to reality. You can see the postings later today at VisuaVenturing.