Tuesday, July 8, 2014

OXBOW BEND-GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

OXBOW BEND
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

This is probably the most photographed  place in the Grand Tetons National Park and rightfully so.  But you must be there at the right time day and that is very early in the morning.  This picture, which by the way is a RAW file, was taken in the wee hours of the morning.  I arrived at 5:30AM in order to get a good spot.  Since this view is right on the main drag it is always crowed with lots of photographers with the same idea as mine.  A series of storms had just passed through leaving the air clean and clear and with beautiful clouds.   Let me set this shot up for you.  I used a Nikon D700 full-frame, love this camera.  Full frame cameras have a larger sensor whose pixels are also larger than those of a cropped camera.  Larger pixels absorb more light and produce less noise.  I prefer to shoot in RAW format because it captures more data.  The downside is it also produces much larger files.  It has been my experience that RAW file right out of the camera appear to be flat or somewhat muted.  But the data is there you just need to take it into your electronic dark room and develop it or post process it.  One more thing when you view a picture shot in RAW on your LCD monitor it will look much better than when you down load it.  Why? Because your camera's LCD shows the RAW picture in a JPEG format.  OK back to set up.  With light this low this shot will require a tripod.  This is definitely not a hand held exposure.  In addition I was going to use a polarizer to pick up the reflections of the mountains and the clouds in the water.  What a gorgeous morning it was.  It was cold enough for a jacket, hat, and gloves.  Between the morning chill and the warm water a nice fog appeared on the surface of the mirrored river.  I took lots of shots that day because that's what photographers do, right?  Truthfully you want to take lots of exposures because the light changes by the seconds and each shot can be different.  This also affords you the opportunity to try out different settings.  For this shot I opted to set my camera on f/16 to get a lot of depth-of-field (DOF).  Using this DOF I was able to get a portion of the foreground in focus and a lot of the background as well.  I shoot in manual mode. In order to get the right exposure I had to set my shutter speed to 2.5 seconds.   If you used this setting in broad daylight your picture would be a total white screen like a sheet of paper.  But remember this is very early in the morning and there is very little light.  This picture looks like there is a lot of daylight but believe me it was so dark that I could not see my setting without a flash light.  My ISO was set at 200.  I used my best lens, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 with the focal length set at 66mm.  I also set my camera to a 10 second delay to minimize any camera shake on my part.  The best advice I can give you is to get your hands off the camera to help ensure sharpness.  Well that is the set up so let's go into the digital darkroom.  I use CS5 and Bridge as my RAW converter.  I opened the file in Bridge and then took it into HDR Efex PRO and processed it using the tone map application.  I selected the 02 Realistic Balanced Pre-set and then reduced the strength of the settings and clicked OK.  This immediately takes the picture into Photoshop, where the first thing I do is save it as a tiff file.  This will allow me to open it back up in Bridge which I did only to spike up the black slider, thereby enhancing the colors. However, this was the only additional global processing I did.  What I did next was to do some selective processing using the dodge tool to add some light to the trees.  I did this on a layer.  Then I created a Hue/Saturation Layer and selected the Red Channel in order to pump up the reds and oranges.  This also brought out the purples in the clouds and reflections in the water.  Next I flattened all the layers, added another adjustment layer and sharpened the picture and then flattened in again and saved it as a PSD.  This allows me to go in and resize it for print.  I save each re-size with a different file name usually by adding an underscore and another number.  Well that's it and here is the final product.


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