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Sanctuary

Post-production work can be just as important as field work – in this case, the range of light, and color balance needed close attention.

This shot is from Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The stunning curves and beams of light in this overhanging slot canyon make it a photographers paradise! Unfortunately, crowds of tourists make photography difficult. Luckily, the tour guides try to give everyone an opportunity to take a few photographs – holding one group back, just around the bend, while another group takes pictures, and throwing sand into the air to make those gorgeous beams of light stand out.

For good pictures, you need a tripod in here. You have to use long shutter speeds to capture a photo without a flash, since it’s very dark at the bottom of the canyon in places. In this case, I needed 1.3 seconds at f/8 – but some photos required 30 seconds or more.

I also chose to shoot at an angle for a more appealing composition… why worry about gravity when the canyon seems not to care. :)

The hardest part of getting this photo right was actually the color balance. There’s a broad range of light, here – and some of the canyon is in shade, while other areas are lit by direct sun. I’ve seen thousands of photographs of these walls – and many of them show deep purple colors alongside bright yellow and orange. But the canyon isn’t purple or yellow. The problem is that it’s tough to get an even color balance for the entire image when the light is so uneven. So, I was very careful about avoiding that purple cast. Are the colors perfect? I doubt it – I guess I’ll have to take a print back to the canyon to compare the colors in person. ;) But it’s as close to my memory of the location as I could bring it.

So, do you agree that post-production work can be just as important as field work? In this case, the image wouldn’t be the same without careful attention to color balance – and also the broad range of light represented here. I’m sure many of you can relate… and I’d love to hear your opinion.

In going back to look at the settings for this photo, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of images I never processed. Time to get back to work!

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