Digital Darkroom

North Lake Sunset

Sunset clouds over North Lake, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Sunset clouds over North Lake, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Claudia and I are back home, but we had fun photographing on the east side last week. Every day we saw more color in Bishop Creek Canyon, and the high-elevation aspens were looking great when we left yesterday.

I made this photograph Friday evening. We had been photographing intimate scenes along the south fork of Bishop Creek for a couple of hours, but there were some clouds hugging the crest of the mountains, so I headed to North Lake where I could get a wider view if the clouds turned color at sunset.

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May Showers

Spring sunrise, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Spring sunrise, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite, Sunday morning

First, to my subscribers, thanks for your understanding about the email glitches yesterday. I really appreciate all the supportive emails so many people sent. Your kind words turned a frustrating day into a great one.

I haven’t posted anything new on the blog for awhile because I was teaching a workshop, and then working on our new website. The new site is still a bit of a work in progress, so if you find any broken links or other issues please let me know. But the new site better integrates the blog with the other content, makes it easier to add and update portfolios, and will work much better with phones and tablets, so I hope it will be a better experience for everyone.

Meanwhile we had a great workshop, with flowing waterfalls, fresh spring greenery, dogwoods, and some interesting weather and clouds. And the cool, showery spring weather has continued, which I love. I’m not ready for the summer heat, and always happy to have clouds and mist to photograph.

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The Power of Visualization

Beam of light striking Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Beam of light striking Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

“The term visualization refers to the entire emotional-mental process of creating a photograph, and as such, it is one of the most important concepts in photography.”
— Ansel Adams

I’ve become increasingly aware of the power of visualization over the years. Looking back through my own work, it’s clear that my best photographs were created when I had a strong response to a subject or scene, knew the feeling I wanted to convey, and was able to visualize in advance how I wanted the finished image to look.

But what does visualization mean, and how does it apply to digital photography today? Although Adams mostly talked about visualization in relation to technique, he also made it clear that visualization was part of the creative process. He wrote: “Visualization is a conscious process of projecting the final photographic image in the mind before taking the first steps in actually photographing the subject. Not only do we relate to the subject itself, but we become aware of the its potential as an expressive image.”

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Last Chance for a Discount on My Lightroom eBook

LR6-CoverSpread

A quick reminder that the price for my Landscapes in Lightroom ebook and video package will go up on Sunday (at midnight Pacific time) from $14.95 to $27.00. This is your last chance to get the new edition at the old price! The new version has been updated for Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, and includes eight step-by-step examples, plus ten video tutorials. Click the Add to Cart button below, or visit this page for more information.

Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide
PDF ebook plus video tutorials
103 double-page spreads
14.95 until Sunday, November 15th, after which the price goes up to 27.00
FAQ

Add to Cart View Cart

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Processing Autumn Landscapes

Autumn sunrise over the Sneffels Range from the Dallas Divide, CO, USA

Autumn sunrise over the Sneffels Range from the Dallas Divide, CO, USA

As I wrote in my last post, it can be challenging to process high-contrast scenes with important, colorful subjects in the shade – like aspens. You need to lighten the shadows even more than normal to bring out the color, and it’s hard to do that in natural-looking way, while keeping contrast and depth.

This photograph is a good example. It’s from the Dallas Divide, one of Colorado’s iconic fall locations. Fresh snow on the peaks added interest, but also created more contrast. The morning sun lit the peaks and clouds, but I knew it would be awhile before that light reached the aspens in the foreground, and by that time the color in the sky would be gone. I bracketed three exposures, each one stop apart, in case I needed to blend them together later. But I didn’t need to blend; the final image was processed in Lightroom with just one frame.

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Autumn Landscapes

Sunbeams, San Juan Mountains, CO, USA

Sunbeams, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Driving over Lizard Head Pass we came around a bend and spotted these sunbeams coming through the clouds. Claudia found a place to pull over, and I scrambled to set up my camera as quickly as possible. Wind was blowing rain right toward the camera, so it was a challenge to keep water drops off the lens. I stayed for at least 20 minutes capturing images of the sunbeams as they moved and changed, but this was the very first frame. A challenging photo to process!

With their straight, white trunks and colorful leaves, aspens are great subjects for intimate landscapes. But in both Colorado and the eastern Sierra this fall we had lots of interesting weather, with great clouds, which created many opportunities to capture images of aspens as part of a larger landscape, with mountains in the background. I’ve posted a couple of these photographs already (here and here), but I’ve included a few more in this post.

These images were sometimes challenging to process. Often the aspens were in the shade, with sunlit, sometimes snow-covered peaks above, creating a lot of contrast. Yet all of these images were processed in Lightroom, with just one Raw file – no exposure blending or HDR. I used Lightroom’s wonderful Highlights and Shadows tools, plus some dodging and burning with the Adjustment Brush.

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