Jan 24, 2009

Cross Roads

Hidden Mountain Sunset, Los Lunas, NM

Hidden Mountain
©Joe Bridwell
It was just a lark at first. We went sunset shootin’ west of Los Lunas. NM. A low cloud bank was pushing in from the west as the sun vanished behind Hidden Mountain. Then, the surprise began… vapor trails from an eastbound and northbound plane appeared. In a moment, their paths crossed, seeming to transfix yet emphasize the sky above the gorgeous pageantry of a remarkable sunset. And Hidden Mountain, as captured, indeed, is hidden…

This stunning image is a high dynamic range composite shot with a Nikon D300 on a steady tripod. Each image was shot at 14 bits, providing 4 times the color range of a 12 bit capture. This choice helped dramatize shadows, midtones, and highlights.
Three images were captured and brought into Lightroom 2.3. The new Photomatix Pro 3.1.3 Lightroom plugin then processed those images into a 32 bit hdr file (which we saved in case future software brush improvements provide other, more compelling benefits) before seamlessly returning a Tone Mapped 16 bit tif using Tone Compressor with no global color changes.
Back in Lightroom, we cropped the dark foreground, increased exposure 0.5EV, created a medium tone contrast, added a graduated filter in the sky, then modified a local sky-only grad filter contrast and saturation until our eye’s memory was satisfied.

Two unsuspecting pilots skillfully avoiding collision provide a sacred signature to the truly gorgeous aspects Nature provides as we extend what a camera can capture to what our incredible eye can make as a transcendent memory.

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