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In Progress: The Way Up Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 May 2018

The weather was dreadful. A gray sky. Overcast. Everything flat. But the scene was prehistoric. A hillside on an untouched ravine along the Seventh Ave. reservoir. Thousands stream by it everyday on the S-curve roadway that runs along the western edge.

The Way Up. Nikon D200 with 35mm f2.8 Nikkor at f8, 1/45 second and ISO 400, processed in Adobe Camera Raw. Looking east.

And we always find it picturesque. But we always fail to capture it in all its glory. There's something about being in the ravine and seeing those trees climb out of it, some fallen, some strong.

We had the Nikon D200 with a 35mm f2.8 Nikkor with us. And we had set the Nikkor to f8, adjusting focus to the hyperfocal distance so we could just angle the camera toward something and fire the shutter without looking through the viewfinder.

With such glamourless light, color was dispensable.

A more discrete way of street shooting. That was the idea.

On the D200 that 35mm focal length plays out like a 50mm crop. It corresponds pretty well to the view we take in with our eyes. No surprises. Turn your head and that's what you and the camera both see.

So we came home with a natural shot. And nothing special.

With such glamourless light, color was dispensable. But before we dispensed with it, we optimized the image, careful not to try to turn a flat scene into a contrasty sunlit view.

Then we went monochrome and fiddled with the hue sliders to bring some dimension to the trees.

That brought out the bright spot on the ground near the center of the image. And the featureless sky suggested a slight vignette would help define the corners and focus on the bright spot.

Camera JPEG. What we started with.

In our homepage thumbnail, we realized there was no point cropping in tree tops. The ones defined against the sky are blurred into shapelessness by the low clouds (a blur we restored after sharpening the rest of the image).

Instead, we focused on the clearing between the trees. The way up, in short.

It's a work in progress. But an improvement from what we started out with. It almost seems like it's an illustration copied from the brittle pages of Milton's Paradise Lost or Dante's Divine Comedy.

Editing the image has, in fact, felt a lot like climbing up out of the ravine itself. You can barely see your way through the brush, bushes and trees but you know which way is up.

So you keep going.

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