Every once in awhile, a man just needs to run away, play in the desert, get some sand in between his toes and just live it up. So... I took my youngest and did just that! Took the car and the kid and ran away to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Chose a reasonably good time to go to. Not too hot, not too cold,but juuuuust right.
We did hit some weather on the way down, which was not altogether a bad thing... I loved these clouds on US-6 just before Interstate 70. Made for a pretty picture, the driving in the downpour pretty much sucked, but they looked cool! I will trade a sky with character and some rain for dry driving and no clouds any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I have to note that I was very careful to NOT stand in the roadway, Tractor-Trailers at 65 MPH hurt if they bump into you.
When we got into Arches proper, it was dry, then we had a couple of cloudbursts drift through, then it was dry again. The Courthouse Towers area is a favorite area of mine, I LOVE the scenicness of the road. (Is scenicness a word? Probably not but I like it.) The rain created a fabulous atmosphere to photograph in, but the dynamic range of the light in the scene was very tough to capture. I ended up bracketing like crazy and dashing back to the car drenched.
Both of these images were taken close to each other both in time and location, but I processed them a bit differently. The white balance (WB) being the main difference, the top one was the WB chosen by the camera, which I felt was a little too cold.
This one I chose the Cloudy WB setting in ACR when converting my RAW files to TIFF before washing them through Photomatix to create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) composite image. I'm honestly not sure which WB I like better, both photos work in their own way, though neither is "High Art".
Do you remember the old adage: "When life gives you lemons, make Lemonade." I personally think that regarding circumstances as being negative makes you negative, even though I am a profound proponent of dry gallows humour. Back to the subject, I take that adage to mean, that you need to look for the good in any situation and try to make it a good thing. Balanced Rock is one of my favorite formations in Arches. Eager to take a lasting image I was dismayed to see it backlit and very hard to do much with. Still, you gotta shoot in whatever circumstances you are in sometimes, and I decided to expose for the sky and let the foreground be whatever it would be. In post processing I darkened the detail in the foreground, increased the drama of the clouds and created an Image I like more than most I see of that rock.
By the time we got to the Devils Garden section, there was no rain, and beautiful clouds. Just the way I liked it. I did run into problems with having clouds get in the way of the sun and having to wait for it to come back out, carefully timing rest stops to keep my 9 year old from getting too restless I was able to wait out the clouds for a couple of decent shots.
You might think I went with HDR on this shot as well, however the amazing shadow recovery ability of the RAW files from the Pentax K5 served me extremely well.
Heading back past Balanced Rock with two tired legs in the seat behind me, I hoped for "The Shot" I remembered wanting to get from my childhood visits. This is about as close as I think I will ever get. Just couldn't get sun to hit the rock, but careful processing gave me a reasonable keeper.
More to come later!