Traveling through time (and figuring out a few new things about RAW)

Traveling through time
Traveling through time

Another from that gorgeous sunset behind the wind farm at Buffalo Ridge (near Lake Benton, MN).

KK and I got off US 75 on Norwegian Creek Road, which is what’s heading off in front of us here. The GPS, which was a bit confused about our little photo detour, actually suggested we continue down this gravel road and wander the backroads for a while. After breaching a few snow drifts across the road, we decided this wasn’t such a great idea in extremely cold weather with night fast coming on. We turned around and made it back to the blacktop safe and sound, and remained on more substantial roads the remainder of the journey.

I’ve often struggled with different ways of pulling out the useful information in both strong highlights and deep shadows, but somehow in all these photos I’d never learned (or figured out on my own) about multi-RAW processing. RAW is really nice and gives you a ton of flexibility, even though it takes up a lot more space. There’s a lot of great data there, but you have to learn to use it. I’d figured a lot of stuff out by just digging around in Photoshop and on-line, but somehow I’d totally missed this multi-RAW idea. I got a copy of The Photoshop darkroom for Xmas, however, and it’s really opened my eyes to some possibilities I’d been missing before.

Here I essentially pulled two images from the raw data on the camera. One was adjusted for the sky (keep the exposure down to saturate those great colors), and the other for the ground (crank up the exposure so you get some detail in the road and the snow). Then you lay those two versions on top of each other, and use a mask to merge them. It look a reasonable amount of futzing (maybe an hour, but I was fairly new to the whole masking thing), but the result was far cooler than I could have gotten by attempting to adjust the original image in toto.

The color is a little richer if you view this in a context that respects color profiles. Everyone who’s not in such a context will just have to take my word for it :-).

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