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Fall Photos and the Gospel of Marc

Over the past few days Marc Dilley sent a handful of autumn shots for us to consider using as a Picture of the Week. They were all too good to single out just one, so we compiled them into a post and asked Marc to supply a few tips about how he took (or processed) each picture. Here’s the gospel according to Marc:

This sunrise shot (above) with Mt. Stuart in the background was in Headlight Basin. This was a complex amalgam of six different exposures, including a 13-second exposure for larch in the two little eddies in the foreground to get the swirly effect.

In the Headlights is a morning shot comprised of three exposures blended in Photoshop: two of the meadow for depth of field (a close focus and a far focus) and another of the bright sunrise. I had to hoof it because I didn't hear the anemic alarm on my wrist watch and got up late.     

Evening Dream is at Lake Ingalls at nightfall. There is a family of goats just out of view in the rocks below. They actually prevented us from scrambling up to this point for quite some time (we did not want to disturb them) and had to wait until they moved on. I had visualized this shot at least a week before, and knew pretty much where to go. I had wanted to do this type of shot for a long time: alpenglow on a major peak with it's reflection, plus the stars just beginning to appear in a darkening sky.

The bracken fern were along the Teanaway River Road on the drive down from Headlight Basin (by Ingalls Lake). I've never seen them so bright and neatly arranged. 

I took this psychedelic water shot along Stafford Creek, which is a tributary of the Teanaway. To get this kind of shot you need very specific conditions: the water must be in total shade and the shore complete, bright sunlight. Then you really should be shooting with a telephoto lens of at least 100mm. I like to use a long shutter speed to give the water a silky look. To get that slow SS you may need to slap on a polarizing filter or an even darker neutral density filter.

This twisted old tree is right along the trail to Lake Ingalls, near the pass. When I turned and saw it, I immediately went over and took about 30 shots. I wasn't all that happy with any of them but thought I had exhausted the range of creative possibilities. Taking another look, I tried one more, radical perspective, the one posted here, that I think works really well. I also waited around for about 20 minutes as the clouds zipped by, snapping the arrangements I liked. The best cloud scene was blended in with the best gnarly tree exposure, and then converted to black and white in Photoshop. Just a quick note here for those interested in getting into digital black and white photography, which I heartily recommend: Do not let the camera do the B&W conversion for you. Instead, output full color images, as you normally would, and change to B&W in your image processing software. Reason: The B&W conversion adjustment tool (at least in Photoshop) allows very precise tonal adjustment of individual colors. The greens, yellows, reds, magentas, cyans and blue tones can be made lighter or darker individually. This is a very powerful and creative tool and it allows you to, for example, darken a blue sky with a thunderous storm clouds, brighten yellow and orange wildflowers in a spring meadow, or hold a person's face to a medium brightness while changing other tones. If your image comes out of the camera already in B&W, you give up that level of control and have to resort to using Levels, Curves or other methods that are not as easy nor as precise.