Sunday, June 12, 2011

Colors Gone Wild!

If you've been keeping up with the newest editions to my gallery at you’ve seen my collections of the Navajo Bridge, Hanging Gardens, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend, and Paria Rimrocks/Toadstools.  You’re probably thinking (and I wouldn’t blame you), you mean there’s MORE?!  I know, I find it hard to believe myself.  I mean, this was Page, Arizona.  Half of the people I talk to never heard of it.  The other half are vaguely familiar with it…some guess and think it’s near Hoover Dam (nice try).

The visual diversity of this place is hard to describe without pictures—I simply wouldn’t have the vocabulary to even try.  I’ve attempted to explain the Antelope Canyons by starting with “Have you seen 127 Hours?”.  If they have, I say, they’re slot canyons sort of like in that movie, but only psychedelic.  (If they haven’t seen the move, the next conversation devolves into a brief overview of the struggle for survival depicted in that film).  I guess that’s why I’m a photographer and not a book writer—I’ll let my images show you what this place was like…superlatives seem inadequate.

This image is from the LOWER Antelope Canyon (yep, there’s an UPPER too…check out my galler to see those--truly amazing).  The Lower Antelope Canyon experience was fantastic.  It was quiet, cool (figuratively and literally), very narrow, and colorful beyond belief.  The colors in the images below are all natural…no lights, no grotesque post-processing.  The yellows, reds, browns, blues, magentas were all there.  Some of this is due to actual variations of color in the geological formations, but the other is due to the physics of the reflected light spectrum—a bit like what a prism does. 

About half of these images are HDRs. Since many on my distribution are photographers, no explanation needed, but for the other half… HDR stands for high dynamic range.   Digital cameras (and films cameras to a lesser extent) have a difficulty capturing the wide range of light intensity that the eye and brain simply deals with automatically.  In these canyons, the lighting conditions go from the darkest of shadows to the very bright blinding intensity of the sun—all in the same composition.  What “HDR” is, is a technique where three pictures are taken of the same composition, with each exposure adjusted differently—overexposed to capture shadow detail, underexposed to capture detail in the sun-drenched rock.  Special software (I use Photomatix) then allows these images to be combined into a single picture that allows you to see the complete tonal range of the image--the same way as if you were standing there.  Because standing there the eye and brain work together to allow you to see this shadow detail when you look there, and the brightest area details when you look there….make sense?

Your comments and feedback are always welcomed.

(photo metadata:  1/20 sec @ f/9.5, ISO 200, focal length 16mm)