My submission to Stacy Fischer’s After-Before Friday Forum is a photograph I made last year along the Oregon coast. Thor’s Well, described as a large salt water fountain driven by ocean tides, is fairly popular with local visitors but is not found in most guidebooks. When conditions are right, around high tide, it can be pretty spectacular and sometime dangerous during stormy or icy weather. The desired effects occur at high tide when waves surge into an underwater cave beneath the rocky shoreline. The wave, with no other exit, explodes through the large hole in the cave’s roof, collapses, and then flows back into the cave. I decided that high tide at sunset would be the best time to capture an image. I wanted to give a sense of the flow of water so after several experiments with different shutter speeds, I settled on 1/20th sec. There was an overcast sky overhead with a slight opening in the west that allowed some of the sunset colors to very softly paint the surface of the water as it flowed back into the chasm. The initial result is shown below. (Technical data: Nikon D800e on a tripod with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens extended to 70mm; exposure 1/20th sec. @f/11, ISO 800)
Original RAW Image
The opening is about 15 X 20 feet and the trick was to get pretty close, but not too close. Using a 14-24 wide angle would require getting a little closer than I considered wise. And the results didn’t capture the drama as well as I would have liked. I was looking down into the mouth of this abyss and the wide angle made it seem the view was from 100 feet away. I switched to the 70-200 telephoto and liked what I saw at 70mm. Cropping out the horizon was a conscious decision.
After opening the image in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), I made a number of adjustments to open up the darker segments and restore the subtle warm tones that I had seen when taking the picture. The Figure below shows a screen capture of the ACR window with the adjustments I made (red arrows).
ACR Dialog Window with Adjustments
The next step was to open the image in Photoshop and the image at this stage is shown below. It seemed to be about where I wanted it, but it needed just a touch more saturation.
As a final step, I added a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer as shown in the Figure below. I moved the slider to plus 33 (red arrow) which brought out the blue of the water in shadow and the warm touch of sunlight on the water in the foreground. The blend mode (blue arrow) was set to Saturation.
Adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
That was it. The final image is shown below. The overall time required was about 15 minutes, a lot less complicated than the star trails image from last week.
Again, I would to thank Stacy Fischer for keeping this forum running. Please check out the excellent submissions by the other contributors at her Visual Venturing blog.