Mark Bargen  

Last Light  (From the South Rim) by Mark Bargen

June 2021 - Last Light (From the South Rim)

June 2021 - Mark Bargen


About the Image(s)

There have been millions (billions?) of photos from the South Rim, many of them under better conditions and by better photographers than I, and this particular vantage point is probably the most common of them all. Still, I had to try my hand at it, and I was pleased with how this turned out.

The sun was already setting by the time we got the car unpacked. I was sure all the "good spots" would have been taken, but in late April in Pandemic Season, the crowds weren't there and I was able to set up just in time to catch the very last of it.

I'd been told that the Canyon is difficult to shoot from the rim, as it's so vast that it's very difficult to convey that. This is certainly true. I'd also been advised to not bother with trying to frame the shot to include a foreground, as that would actually work against my intentions. I have to agree, in general, but I'm glad that I ignored that advice here, as I really like the way the branches caught the light.

Shot on a Canon R5 at the low end of Canon RF24-105mm F4 lens (very good for a kit lens), five shots exposure brackets, with primary at1/25 second at f/14, ISO 100.

You folks know by now that I enjoy post-processing. I did it in several steps in Adobe Photoshop after the HDR merge in Lightroom Classic. I've learned a processing technique using the history brush, and I'm using it more and more in preference to piling up masked layer after layer: I take a history snapshot, make a set of edits with a particular objective, take another snapshot, revert to the first snapshot and using the history brush to paint selectively brush in my adjustments from the second snapshot, often constrained by a luminosity mask. This results in a workflow that I find more intuitive, and I especially like to use this for ACR adjustments. After several rounds of dodging and burning with ACR adjustments, especially brightness, contrast, hue and saturation, I added a bit of clarity and texture to the areas closest to the viewer. I had to clone out some branches on the left edge that were catching way too much light. I "fiddled around" a bit more to get the colors right in the distance, and then added a little bit of Orton effect, and toned a bit more red into the sunlight.

5 comments posted

Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Excellent final image Mark, your post processing skills are superb. I am curious as to how you avoided the smoke that usually fills the gorge (almost always visible from the north rim).   Posted: 06/14/2021 21:57:19
Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Thanks, Michael. I'm not familiar with the smoke. Tell me more? Is it perhaps seasonal?   Posted: 06/15/2021 06:45:20
Michael Nath   Michael Nath
The largest source of the smoke are coal powered electrical plants that are "uphill" from the grand canyon. The terrain combined with the west to east weather pattern allows the smoke to flow downhill into the lowest elevation (the canyon) where it lingers until the prevailing winds move the air farther east. The second largest source will soon be the wild fires occurring in the southwest.   Posted: 06/15/2021 09:37:39
Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Ah ... wasn't aware of that ... the Navajo Generating Station has now shut down permanently; further, when we were there, there were *relatively* few wildfires in the Southwest.   Posted: 06/15/2021 11:30:19

Jerry Paskowitz   Jerry Paskowitz
Mark, I like how you've captured the 'mood' of the Grand Canyon. It's been a very long time since I was there. The way you've PP'd it makes for a timeless photo.   Posted: 06/16/2021 17:21:15


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