Rancho Sierra Vista at Sunset

I love our National Parks. On Saturday, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area offered a free program by Park Ranger Anthony Bevilacqua discussing the importance of art and photography in the parks. You probably know that Yellowstone was our first national park when it was established in 1872. But you may not realize that the paintings of Thomas Moran and the photographs of William Henry Jackson were instrumental in the park’s creation. Moran’s paintings showed the amazing features and colors in Yellowstone, and Jackson’s photographs proved that the area was real.  Few, if any, of the congressmen had ever seen the Yellowstone region, but they were able to see and appreciate the images. As a result, they were able to understand how important it was to protect and preserve the area.

Rancho Sierra Vista sunset

Late Saturday afternoon Anthony hosted a sunset photowalk at Rancho Sierra Vista. Along the way he offered insights into the landscape as well as the various plants and animals you might encounter. We found the view shown above along the way and decided to stop there and wait for sunset. The clouds were coming and going, and even though they weren’t perfectly positioned at sunset, they still created a beautiful view to create the scene above.

There are two interesting aspects to this photo. First, scenes like this are very difficult to capture with a camera because of the drastic difference between the bright sky and the much darker foreground. We can easily see both with our eyes, but cameras are much more limited. In this case, I used a graduated neutral density filter to reduce the exposure in the sky, sort of like putting sunglasses over the top portion of the frame. That allows me to capture the details and colors in the sky and still be able to record the detail in the hills in the foreground. Check out my graduated neutral density tutorial on YouTube for more details about how to use these filters.

The second point of interest is that the image is actually composed of several separate frames taken in quick succession. By stitching the images together in Photoshop I can create a much higher resolution image with a fantastic amount of detail. In this case, the complete image is roughly 11 feet wide by 4 feet high – that’s a total of 335 megapixels! Of course, you can’t see all of that detail in a small web image, but you can see a larger version of the photo here.

About Craig

I have a passion to create, and I'm fascinated with the tools and technologies of creativity. I strive to produce images that are graphically simple and technically precise in order to render beautiful photographic fine art prints. I work with a variety of digital transformations to create a finished image that reflects my artistic interpretation.
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