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Barrel Cactus, Aguereberry Point

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 12 January 2011 in Landscape & Rural.

UPCOMING 2011 WORKSHOPS:

Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (Workshop Sold Out)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (5 spots remaining)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (only 5 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Full Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - 3rd Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - October 9-13, 2011 (only 4 spots remaining).
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*** PLEASE NOTE: I AM CURRENTLY IN BIG SUR TEACHING MY WINTER WORKSHOP. I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RESPOND TO YOUR COMMENTS BUT I WILL CERTAINLY LOOK FORWARD TO READING THEM!

I have been having a lot of fun recently culling through some of my older images and looking at them with a fresh eye. It amazes me how differently I feel about the image after putting it on the shelf for a while. Today's image is a good case in point. I always liked the composition of this image but never felt the processing brought it to its full potential.

I made this image a few winters ago while co-teaching Gary Hart's Death Valley workshop. We will be back in DV in a couple weeks for another workshop and hopefully can reach some of the higher destination points such as Aguereberry Point at an elevation 6433 feet. On this particular evening, we arrived about an hour prior to sunset and I can still remember the chill in the air. Coming from the Valley below, the temperatures tend to plummet and the spring-like lower-elevation conditions quickly revert to winter at these higher locations. Yet the transition in temperatures are more than worth the amazing views found at these heights. It is easy to be seduced by the grandeur of the scenery, yet I still feel it is important to adhere to the concept of creating depth in a scene. This meant scrambling around the rough granite outcroppings looking for something in the landscape that lent itself to a foreground object.

I stumbled across this small barrel cactus and knew I had my foreground. I balanced the warm tones in the sky with the help of my Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge GND. Using my 16-35 mmL allowed me to create an illusion in the relative size of the cacti and an aperture of f/16 carried the focus throughout the frame.

What I did different in processing was actually simple. I used the Brilliance/Warmth filter in Nik's Color Efex Pro to bring out the colors that seemed somewhat subdued in the original version. Two simple sliders accomplished my goal in less than 10 seconds!

Seeing old images with a fresh eye is worth the effort. Try it with some of your older images that didn't quite make the cut the first time around. Perhaps that image you always had hoped for but originally fell a bit short is awaiting your discovery. Happy hunting!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 8/5 seconds F/16.0 ISO 250 18 mm

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