Here's a shot from my recent trip across the country, on my move from New Jersey to California. This sunset photo was taken at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, right after the sun went down. We showed up at the Canyon just before sunset, so I only had a few minutes to get ready for the big color show. The clouds were amazing, and it was a great show. This one spot just above the sun was lit up like flames, and lucky for me I was using my super-wide, so I was able to capture the whole thing. I exposed this shot for the sky and allowed the foreground to go almost black (though there was some color information in there). I also shot at ISO100 in order to minimize any noise, which in turn caused a low shutter speed, which in turn caused me to use a large aperture. If it were any darker, I would have had to bump the ISO up a notch.
The JPEG (1) was pretty dull and washed out, but the RAW conversion (2) started looking a little better due to a white balance adjustment and an increase in vibrancy. I started off the editing a little dodging (3) using a curves adjustment layer and mask to brighten the highlights. Then I did some burning (4) with a curves adjustment layer and mask to darken the shadows and help bring out the depth in the clouds. After the photo started looking a little better, I applied a curves adjustment layer (5) to increase the contrast a bit further. The last step was a hard mix layer blend (6) at 32% opacity and 20% fill, which really helped bring out the colors and contrast. Due to the inherent softness of the photo, I left out the sharpening step.
Photo by Brian Auer
07/13/07 Grand Canyon
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
15mm equiv * f/4 * 1/60s * ISO100