Yellow Colors of Merced River (Yosemite)

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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.

California. Yosemite National Park
Loc: 37.736900, -119.599979

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (-1; 0; +1)
  • Camera: Canon 60D
  • Lens:  Sigma 10-20mm
  • Focal Length: 10mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: F8
  • Bracketing: 3 shots (-1.6; 0; +1.6)
  • Tripod: hand-held

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.

Photoshop Plugins:

  • Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (water, sky)
  • Topaz Detail was used to enhance details in foreground elements (cliffs, trees)
  • Great place and shot! I was there, it’s beautiful!

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