|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Ancient cottonwood trees hang onto life on a sunbaked and overgrazed bench (terrace) in Moki Canyon. This shot took two days to make, in a manner of speaking. The trees were quite close to my campsite and I had decided one afternoon that I wanted to take their portrait, even working out the composition ahead of time, but the light was just not right. I should explain that behind this camera position (to the west) there is a massive curving wall of golden sandstone 50 meters or more high, and I knew that there would be a time in the early morning when the wall would be directly sunlit, creating a gigantic gold diffuse reflector, but the trees and BG would remain in shadow vis-a-vis direct sunlight. I awoke early the next morning to catch this lighting condition, but the sun was obscured behind a cloudbank so I "scrubbed" the mission for that day. The following morning I tried again and this time the light did just what I wanted and expected it to.|
The low-contrast wedding and portrait film I was experimenting with captured the full dynamic range with no difficulty, but the resulting scan has a flat, drab FG if I hold the sky values to a realistic lightness. So after denoising in Neat Image I had to resort to fairly drastic PP in Corel PhotoPaint to get the FG properly illuminated. Fortunately, there is a distinct tonal separation between the FG and sky, and the sky is of a uniform blue-cyan hue, so I created a B&W mask from the blue channel and increased its contrast dramatically with a linear tone curve adjustment so that the sky was white and all other areas black, with a sharp gradient between. Then I inverted the mask so that the sky was black and the FG white, and placed it over the image. At that point I was able to stretch the lightness of the FG upward in the histogram to increase both illumination and contrast of the FG while not affecting the sky. I left the mask in place for sharpening also, so the grain in the sky was not accentuated. I also adjusted R,G,and B levels separately to clean up some color shifts. I'm quite pleased with the result, and I hope you like it too!
Thanks in advance for any comment and critiques.
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- [2006-12-03 18:37]
Stunning simple bold statement nice use of light. Challenging to the eye powerful a bit in your face. Sadly underrated!