Here’s a photo from Pt. Imperial where I made the journey from outside the park to the rim before sunrise.  It was a perfect morning with pretty clear skies.

I took the photograph before sunrise at 6:40 am which was 13 minutes before sunrise. When shooting pre-sunrise, if you start early when the alpenglow type light is evident, you have less contrast compared to the minutes before the sunrise.

As I was hiking the desert this last winter, I spotted an area where rain had collected and created this pattern. What I thought was very interesting was how the mud was totally wet and then following the cracks, totally dry. It made for a nice composition was my feeling and I shot it with an iPhone.


But you can see by this pre-processed image below, the photo would not work without some good processing since it was totally flat looking.

As you know, half the effort of creating an image happens in post processing. While this is a necessary task it can also be an exciting process of watching an image transform. many times I started out with an idea in mind and in the end, I was nowhere close to what I envisioned. 

This final image is an example of just that. I was up at McKenzie Pass hoping for a normal but great sunset. On the way there I saw the horrible haze of thick smoke from the many forest fires in the NW.  Initially I was disappointed but as I started to look around ideas hit me and I started shooting.

The sun was several hours until it set and was a bright orange ball against the smoky sky. That gave me the idea to shoot one of the dead tree snag in the lava fields with a long lens and get a huge red ball of the sun. The problem was I could not frame that shot due to the shape of the land. I just could not get back far enough.

As I pass through Las Vegas on my way to Arizona for the warm winter months, I cant help but stop in Vegas and do a little shooting. This image is from the Fremont Street area, which has been totally revitalized since my first visit to Las Vegas in 1985. 

One of the cool things they have been doing here is preserving the old neon signs from hotels and motels that are no longer standing. So right outside the Fremont Experience areas are these awesome old signs and symbols. 


So I shot the old sign, hand held by the way, and opened in ACR where I added a little contrast, lightened shadows, tiny bit of Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation. Then I opened in Photoshop and added several luminosity masks for shadows and highlights. 

This allowed me to darken a few areas, lighten specific areas, and then selectively saturate more specifics. Then I straightened the angles and removed a light pole that was in the shots and Voila!

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This is Romos Mexican Restaurant in Holbrook AZ on a chilly rainy night. I titled it Rainbow due to the obvious rainbow of color but that is not an official name. The rain ‘makes’ this image so colorful with the color reflections. I processed this with HDR software first and lightly to avoid the Grunge look and then blended back some parts with the original file. Shot with a 70D and 24-70 lens.

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I was teaching at the Black Hills Photo Shootout a few years ago and had half a day to kill so I went on a marathon shooting visit to Badlands NP. I have been there many times and like many places you visit over the years, returning can be like you have never been there before with fresh eyes and new perspectives.

The light was not that great when I got there but I shot anyway and it was fall, so there was a tiny bit of color. I like the idea of B&W with some color remaining because it really emphasizes the color when you do this and directs the eye where you want it to go.



Here’s the Photoshop screen showing the B&W and a mask to brush back the color area which keeps the bush in its original color. I also added contrast with a Curves adjustment and also used High Pass Filter. 

I have told myself more than once that I am burned out on Grungy looking HDR and dont want to look at it let alone create it. But that appears to never be true since I continue to create a few HDR images from time to time. This is Death Valley at sunrise and it made for a great HDR and it is not to grungy, at least by my definition of grungy. Which is hyper color and lotsa noise and halos on the edges.

Fortunately for those of us using HDR software, you can create images that look perfectly normal and even push them a little without hyper color and noise and halos. That was my goal here. Add substantial drama. The ground here is not dark like this but rather very light salt pan. The clouds weren’t that dark either, but HDR is famous for making them look threatening.

So carefully moving the settings added a lot of drama here while avoiding over-done color and noise and other HDR issues that can arise. It is almost like a negative effect, and I am happy with it.

Oh this was so fun! Drove through Holbrook AZ on our way to New Mexico. Stopped in Holbrook to shoot Petrified Forest and when driving through town we saw the Wigwam Motel. OMG–gotta shoot!

Came back at dusk and it started pouring down rain. Perfect! LOL. I did get pretty wet but who cares? I did a non-grungy HDR, then accentuated lighter areas by painting highlights in Photoshop, added a vignette, and a little more burning and dodging for effect. A teeny weeny bit sharpening. And I am done…for today that is.

Wow, my Southwest adventure has been awesome. First, I ran into The Lost Dutchman Miner a few months ago, then Rooster Cogburn after that in West Texas, and now Doc Holiday and Big Nose Kate.It has just been unbelievable.

We left Texas as I wanted to photograph the Chiracahua Mountains of Arizona. I have been there before and its beautiful mountain country, so we headed over and captured some images.

Soon we were running out of supplies and headed for Bisbee to stock up on a variety of goods. While there we heard about the infamous shootout that just happened at the OK Corral up in Tombstone.

Something went down that involved Billy Claiborne, the Clanton Brothers, and the McLaury Bros. and they all had a beef with town Marshall Virgil Earp. Confronted at the OK Corral, Virgil was backed up by his brothers Wyatt and Morgan along with Doc Holliday when something sparked and one bad thing led to another and in 30 seconds several were killed.

Now at that time, details were sketchy, but I knew I had to get there and see what happened and try as best I could to photograph as many involved as I could. I arrived in Tombstone the next day and began asking around as to what happened and where I could find the Earp’s and Doc Holliday.

Virgil and Morgan were wounded and were healing somewhere, but Wyatt was unhurt and Doc had a slight wound. Some folks told me they had seen them about. So I waited and luckily that night there was Doc with Big Nose Kate on his arm. He looked as normal as can be and feeling good enough for the two of them to have a night on the town. And Big Nose Kate was ravishing and that made me think “who gave her that name.” Her nose was not big.

I approached and asked if I could photograph the two of them and he grumbled “why not, ever-one else has” so I got busy quickly photographing. They were not interested in posing for long so I did not even set up a flash, which I usually do, and I just shot with natural light.

Copyright 2013 (C) Charlie Borland

In processing I created the old western look with sepia toning while leaving a little original color there. I sent them prints, which took 5 weeks by Pony Express.

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Related Posts: I Photographed Rooster Cogburn, I Photographed the Lost Dutchman Miner

I have been experimenting when time allows with variations of B&W images. I like HDR although admit that the days of super grunge are over for me. All the color globs and noise….been there, processed that!

HDR has come a long way and now I use it more for creating natural looking images with lower contrast like some architectural assignments I get for time to time.

I have photographed some objects over time where i went crazy with grungy HDR but now I prefer to process more normal and then maybe with a hint of grunge…then converting to B&W.

Here is a piece of equipment at an old mine in Arizona that I processed in HDR and as color then converted to B&W and pushed around a few of the tones with a B&W Adjustment Layer. The HDR does a good job of adding edge to textures and then those are converted to tones in B&W. This next image