║ Cerro Torre Post Processing
18 December 2013
Cerro Torre Post Processing
Cerro Torre is one of the mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America. It is located in a region which is disputed between Argentina and Chile, west of Cerro Chalten (also known as Fitz Roy). The peak is the highest in a four mountain chain and the first time you see its peaks you can\'t believe its beauty. The top of the mountain often has a mushroom of ice, formed by the constant strong winds, increasing the difficulty of reaching the actual summit.
This photograph was taken at sunset which is not the right time to photograph this mountain (as the sun set behind the valley) but we only had one opportunity to shoot at sunset and one opportunity to shoot at sunrise. The climate around these mountains can be tricky so I decided to give it a go and I waited until it got dark. It was a good decision as the next morning, it was all covered in clouds ! This is an example of a photograph which was not taken with the best light but with a bit of post-processing you can improve it a lot.
Step 1 - The capture
This was taken with the Pentax 645D and the SMC FA645 55mm F2.8 AL [IF]. I also use a Gitzo GT1541T with a Markins head Q3 Emille. This tripod is perhaps a little bit light for a medium format camera but I had a lot of gear to take and it did the job most of the time. The settings I used were 2.5 secs, f11, ISO100.
From the original shot, you can see that the main changes are some tweaks to the white balance (corrected in Camera Raw 7.0), the contrast, color and the height of the actual Cerro peaks (post-processed in Photosphop) and Nik Software. When I opened the photogrpah in my Eizo monitor, I just felt that the lense I used did not give the scale it deserves.
Step 2 - Camera Raw Post Processing
The DNG file I got was a bit blueish and so the first thing I did was to correct the white balance. I always correct the histogram of the camera tweaking the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites and blacks in the basic tools in Camera Raw 7.0.
As usual, I also applied some initial sharpening (settings: amount 50, radious 0.5, detail 100) and opened the photograph in Photoshop.
Now for my favourite part.... to play with Photoshop.
Step 3 - Post processing in Photoshop and Nik Software
Although I enjoy shooting for the pleasure of it and being in nature, I always shoot with a project or a target in mind. It could be to publish a book, to organise an exhibition, to enter a competition, to publish an article in a magazine, to build a portfolio or to create an audiovisual presentation for my friends and family.
I find that when I have a target in mind, I strive to get a better shot and it makes me a better photographer. You also have to have in mind what do you want to do with your photograph when you are retouching it with Photoshop.
The final image below has 19 layers in Photoshop. You can see the adjustement layers I have used in Photoshop to create this image including the detail extractor filter of Nik software. Nik Sofware is a great tool but you have to be careful not to overdue it as some filters can create a bit of noise. This is fine if the photo is going to go on your website but not great if you are doing a large print.
I have changed the color of the lake slightly as this is how I felt it was when I was photographing at that time. I have also added some color to the glacier (with a color fill adjustment layer) and some red to the mountains. This is the color they had a few hours before taking the shot when the sun was hitting them. What I have done in Photoshop is actually pretty simple stuff and I will go over it in more detail during our workshop in March.
Back to Patagonia
So yes, it is confirmed, we are going back to Patagonia in March and it will be even more amazing than in November. At that time of the year (autum) the colors of the trees are changing and it is going to be a dream to photograph in these National Parks.
We still have a couple of places available so if you want to come, give me a call on 0400 213 073 or drop me an email at [email protected]. You can also contact Peter Eastway at [email protected].