Before visiting Yosemite National Park for the first time, I went through hundreds of photos of fellow photographers, trying to anticipate and plan ahead what to shoot. By the time of my visit, I had the general idea of the layout of the valley and key spots to visit.
At the same time, I had a few surprises. For example, I did not expect the valley to be so narrow. But the main surprise was the color of the Merced River. It had prominent yellow hues, and it was not a reflection of the sunset. I took a featured photo in the middle of the day with thick clouds defusing the direct sunlight. I did not complain because it was a welcomed surprise.
The idea for the composition of the photo was to use the river as a leading element with the Yosemite Falls as the focal point. But when I started to process it back home in my Lightroom, I realized that the yellow waters of the Merced River overpower everything else in the composition, thereby becoming the actual focal point.
I used HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing in Photomatix to tone map 3 bracketed photos.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
Processing: HDR Processed in Photomatix
Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photomatix
Photomatix: I used 3 images to tone map image (-1.6; 0; +1.6), 16-bit tiff image was exported to Lightroom. (check my tutorial Before & After – HDR With Photomatix)
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, export as PSD image
Photoshop: cleaning, removing HDR artifacts in water, contrast.
- Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (water, sky)
- Topaz Detail was used to enhance details in foreground elements (cliffs, trees)