View Full Version : Mt. Whitney through Mobius Arch

Diane Miller
06-27-2014, 01:05 PM
This is from a couple of years ago -- reviewing images for an upcoming trip down that way in the fall. Sunrise. This view has you perched on a round rock that could be a giant dinosaur egg. Not much room to re-frame the view. Mt Whitney is the smaller jagged peak on the right.

Canon 5D Mk II, 16-35 II at 33, ISO 200, f/19, 0.7 sec. Tripod, of course. I shot an HDR sequence but got better results by adjusting the middle exposure in LR 5. (When originally processed LR 4 was current. The new algorithms and sliders in LR 5 did a better job.) Brought into CS6 for some masked Curves for tonal tweaks.

Half an hour before there was a setting moon in the upper left, but by the time light was on the mountains it was behind the arch or had set -- don't remember which. The next morning would have been better but I was on my way to a workshop in Death Valley and didn't have the extra day.

06-27-2014, 06:45 PM
Hi Diane,
While I have politely declined an offer to become a Mod here, I wanted to comment on this.
First off, why f19?
What reason?, there is nothing close here that would require an f stop like this as you would likely have lens distortion and less sharpness with most lens at that setting than you would at something like f8 or even larger.
The only reason for small apertures is to slow SS and at this location there would be no reason to do that.
You have nice color in the far mountain range and nice exposure but a better more dramatic sky would have made a world of difference.
A lot of PP described by you, but at that time of day a simple single proper exposure would have worked unless you were focus stacking for DOF, there is nothing here that would suggest a large range of contrast.
Focus and sharpness look good, instead of a really small f-stop, you should try focus stacking which is a much better and distortion free way to get DOF and sharpness without resorting
to the really small apertures.
It is a nice scene and nice texture in the rock formation.

Diane Miller
06-27-2014, 08:01 PM
Although f/19 isn’t my routine choice, I see very little diffraction softening there using that lens with a full-frame sensor. Distortion in terms of corner softness improves steadily with that lens at smaller apertures, although at 33mm it is decent by f/9.5-11 or so.

Although it was probably more than I needed, stopping down seemed like a good idea at the time, as I was about 5 ft from the arch and several miles from the mountains, and I did want the texture in the arch sharp.

I was assuming I would need an HDR, as the arch was in deep shadow compared to the mountains and its underside was especially dark. Combining a focus stack and an HDR didn’t sound like the best idea, but I do intend to revisit the location and do a stack at a wider aperture this fall, knowing now the degree of tonal correction I have available in the newest ACR/LR.

This was taken before the new Process 2012 in ACR 7 / LR 5. Revisiting the image with the new algorithms enabled me to pull this tonal range from a single exposure. You say you don’t see anything here that would suggest a large range of contrast. That would be because of the amount of processing I did.

Below is the middle exposure of the three, as it came into LR, which already applies some tonal correction for highlight recovery. The lower exposure made the arch too dark to extract good information from, and the higher one made the mountains too light to extract detail.

BTW, I’ve revisited the HDR with both Photomatix and Nik and the tonal corrections of the single exposure in LR give much better results.

Sorry, but I had no control over the sky. Although I certainly appreciate clouds, I don’t see that a different one would have made “a world of difference” since the arch dominates the sky area. I think its warm color and dramatic shape are nicely set off against a plain blue. But I do have quite a few interesting skies on file that I could easily substitute.

Here is the initial file as it opened in LR5:


And the file as processed in LR, all corrections global:


Some further local adjustments were done in PS.

Bill Jobes
06-27-2014, 08:38 PM
I like the concept of framing the mountain range with the arch.

I have no issue at all with using F/19 in this instance, when sharpness in the arch was important to your vision. It sure would guarantee that DOF would not be a concern.

Of all versions presented, I like the OP the best.

I generally favor clouds in landscapes, but in this instance, I'm not so sure they would have raised the bar of the photograph. Depending on the type/formation, clouds could possibly complicate and distract from the elegant simplicity.

Andrew McLachlan
06-27-2014, 09:27 PM
Nice work Diane, I too like the OP best. Nice details in the arch and the distant mountain range as well. Clouds in the sky would compete with arch's presence in the sky I think. The uncloudy day showcases the arch best. I have been playing around with some focus stacking and do like the results, however, I have been trying with foreground elements at a much closer range than 5 feet. I likely would have shot this scene similarly to how you did. Nice work again!!!

Diane Miller
06-27-2014, 10:22 PM
Thanks, guys! The last two aren't really "versions" but just show the progression of the processing.

Diane Miller
06-28-2014, 08:32 AM
Yes, that's nice! Because raw files are always such low contrast, I tend to stop too soon, not wanting to go overboard with adjustments, but I like what you did here.

Don Railton
06-28-2014, 10:10 PM
Hi Diane,

Like the framing and the detail in the rock and the layers. A couple of dust bunnies playing around upper Left corner and a stray upper center.

best regards


Diane Miller
06-28-2014, 10:14 PM
Ooops -- missed those -- many thanks -- fixed now!

Don Nelson
06-29-2014, 10:14 AM
An easy check for dust bunnies in PS -- duplicate the group/layer, then change the blending to linear burn. They will pop out of the sky.
(also jpg artifacts and the sharpening artifacts around the rock edges)
Nice one. This was always a challenge balancing an 8x10 camera on a tripod to make the image. I haven't been back there for over a decade but I imagine the top is getting pretty scuffed from use?

Diane Miller
06-29-2014, 10:42 AM
Yes, that's a good way -- you can get the same result by creating any adjustment layer, making no adjustments, and setting its mode to Linear Burn. This is a little handier, to me, because you can easily do it on top of the whole stack, where some adjustment layers might have emphasized the spots. My difficulty is remembering to check.

I can't imaging wrangling an 8x10 up there! The rock is still quite textured, and it gets quite a bit of traffic now that the location has been revealed -- looks like granite or something, very hard and rough.

Would love to see your images!! There is a special quality to large format that just isn't the same with digital capture. (Maybe the Hasselblad 50 is coming close...)