Sunday, January 4, 2015

White Ocean

Badwater Basin, Death Valley, California

The Badwater Basin in the Death Valley was once the bottom of a huge lake that stretched for miles across the western part of what is now the Mojave desert in California. When the temperatures in the Death Valley raised to world record levels at the end of the last ice age, the lake quickly dried up leaving a huge depression, the lowest point in North America, covered by what is normally known as table salt. Washed by sudden flash floods during the year and constantly dried by the intense heat, salt will crystallize forming these beautiful shapes and lines that stretch like an ocean to the horizon. The view at sunset is simply breathtaking, the mild temperature in January makes shooting this scene a pleasantly amazing experience that I'm trying to convey in this image. Special thanks to Elene for helping scouting the location to find the best possible composition.

This image is a composition of four frames to capture the wild dynamic range and the huge depth of field required to properly display the characteristic white salt formations in the Badwater Basin. To create the star shaped sun, I closed down to f/22: the very narrow aperture created the sun rays effect. I took two frames to expose for the sun and for the sky, to be blended together later on. For the foreground, I opened up slightly to f/20 to reduce the effect of diffraction and gain some much needed details on the salt crystals. I took two frames of the foreground, one focused on the immediate foreground and one on the distant formations. By focus stacking the two frames I achieved critical focus on the entire scene. The post processing work required some degree of luminance masking to match the exposure between the foreground, the mountains and the sky. Opening up the mid-tones brought life and even more details to the beautiful salt formations, the absolute star of this image: by selectively dodging I also slightly enhanced the rim light around the edges of the formations to achieve more separation and direct the eyes to the middle of the frame.

White Ocean has tons of details in the salt formations and it’s best experienced when viewing a large print. Beautiful acrylic prints are available on FineArtAmerica.

White Ocean is the second piece of the "Ocean" series:

SONY SLT-A99V, f/20 @ 20 mm, 0.6s, ISO 100

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beauty and Grace

My first e-book, Beauty and Grace, is out on iBooks Store! Go grab it on iTunes for iPad and Mac while it's hot.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Calm. Panther Beach

Panther Beach, Santa Cruz, California

Like few drops in the desert can not quench its thirst, this is Calm in Panther Beach. Uncomfortable and calm. A rare moment to remember the time spent aimlessly around lakes and waterfalls, when still accompanied by beauty and grace.

I composed the shot to give as much prominence as possible to the puddle in front me that was reflecting a beautiful sky made of pink and red striping clouds. The stretched puddle forms a visual line that leads the viewer further into the image towards the sky in the background.
I closed the aperture to f/11 to get most of the scene in sharp focus, which, given the time of day right past sunset, yielded a shutter speed of about 20s, that further smoothed out the water, playing into the idea of stillness and calmness. The usual graduated neutral density filter helped retaining the color of the sky and the pink clouds, by matching the exposure with the reflection in the foreground.
In post I tweaked the brightness of the foreground and improved both contrast and saturation to get closer to the beautiful view I witnessed in the field.

This image is best appreciated at high resolution. Click on the image for an even better view. Beautiful fine art prints in various formats are available from FineArtAmerica.

Torment is the second piece in a three images series at Panther Beach:
Panther Beach, Santa Cruz, California

SONY SLT-A99V, f/11 @ 22 mm, 20s, ISO 50