Thursday, April 5, 2007

Coal Lake

All the effort required to get to Coal Lake is in the car, slogging up a dirt road. Once you reach the trailhead, you are within a hundred yards of the lake. A classic Cascades lake with heavily forested shores and rocky cliffs. The way it is situated, late afternoon light rarely reaches into the valley of the lake so you are left to shoot during the brighter portions of the day.

Digital is perfect for this type of contrasty photography where the shadows and highlights are too extreme to be recorded properly on film. I used to use a graduated neutral filter to help but here it would be useless with the dappling of light and shade.

Enter the world of digital. I shoot in RAW mode which allows me to record the entire tonal range of the scene. from black to white. I then processed the image twice, once for the shadows and once for the highlights. Using Photoshop I layered the light exposure on top of the dark exposure. Wherever I thought the image was to light, I erased the top layer to reveal the darker exposure down below. After I was happy with the results, I flattened the file to create an image that had good tone in both the shadows and the highlights.

There are many ways to achieve this result. Some are probably better, but this way is very intuitive and works well for me.

Please remember all images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

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