Stacking in Colored Layers

Take a look at this photo. Imagine for a moment, that it is all yellow aspens from foreground to background. In this bright, sunny, flat light, there would be little scene depth in the photo.

Scene depth are elements in a photo that give a sense of depth or distance from foreground to background and is achieved in several ways. Lighting is one and can emphasize scene depth, especially when you have varied brightness levels in the scene like a darker foreground and brighter background.

Size relationship is another way to give a sense of depth to the scene. This is usually a subject or subjects that have varying sizes and can be something like a large rock or clump of flowers in the foreground looming large, while the background appears distant.

The San Juan Mountains are a rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado. The area is highly mineralized (the Colorado Mineral Belt) and figured in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Major towns, all old mining camps, include Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining is now uneconomical in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale holdouts were the Standard Metals operation on Red Mountain Pass which operated until late in the 20th century and the ill-fated Summitville mine on the eastern slope of the San Juans.

Then in situations like this image, where the brightness level is pretty equal throughout the image, you dont get much of a sense of scene depth. So instead, I used color stacking of different colors to to give a sense of depth to the image.

There really was not much else to add unless I want to burn and dodge and simulate varied tonal values, but it might look to fake. So I opted for a different approach.

In Photoshop, I selected the orange/red values and then added that selection to a Hue/Sat adjustment layer, and darkened the oranges and reds. Then I did the same for the greens while leaving yellows alone.

In a way you could look at this approach similar to burning and dodging because I adjusted selected tones to changed the contrast, all with the goal of creating scene depth.

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I Love Photographing in Crappy Weather

I have been here to this overlook at Dallas Divide in Colorado many times and it is amazing….and usually crowded in fall.

During my visits the weather has been ‘perfect’ and other times sunny. What I mean is that one time the sky was so clear, it was hot, and it just was not that great compared to this visit when a storm was passing through and even leaving a dusting of snow on the mountains.

I love photographing in crappy weather! Some of my best or maybe favorite images happened when the weather sucked.

When it is overcast or even raining, specular highlights created by the sun give way to diffused highlights from the overcast. Scene contrast is lowered and colors become more vibrant.

Dallas Divide (el. 8,970 feet is a high mountain pass in Colorado located on State Highway 62 about 12 miles west of the town of Ridgway. The pass is a saddle between the San Juan Mountains to the south and the Uncompahgre Plateau to the north and divides the Uncompahgre River watershed from the San Miguel River watershed and Ouray County from San Miguel County. The pass takes its name from Dallas Creek which drains the basin on the north side of Mount Sneffels into the Uncompahgre River. The pass overlooks the Sneffels Range. A toll road was first constructed over Dallas Divide in 1880 linking the town of Dallas near Ridgway with Telluride. In 1890 the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was built over the divide from Ridgway to Telluride.

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Fall Color in the Tiny World of Macro

Photographing this image made me realize that fall color that we all love and cherish photographing, is not all about trees.

While I was photographing the amazing aspens in Colorado, I found amazing color closer to the ground.

These plant species, as best as I recall, were not more than 5-6″ across from left side the right side and literally were ground cover.

I dont know what they are but it look to me that they were having their own fall color transformation. The icing on the cake so to speak, literally, is that light coating of frost that added the edges and some white sparkles to the leaves.


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Sometimes it is All About Luck

Years ago, I taught a workshop in Grand Staircase Escalante NM and when we were done I headed north on Hwy 24 over Boulder Mountain. It was fall and the Dixie NF has some great fall color all over the mountains here.

I was doing the ‘pedal to the metal’ after the workshop as I had places to get to, but when I saw this my first thought was WOW! As I drove past I thought I should stop ASAP even though I wasn’t really expecting to do any shooting. That thought passed in about 4 seconds and I spun the car around at my first opportunity.


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Fall Ablaze

In celebration of fall here is another image of Multnomah Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge from a few years ago. This image was successful as a stock photo, even earning a calendar cover. 


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