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Sunrise, Mono Lake

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 17 July 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

I'm afraid that being on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks has affected the quantity (and quality) of my blog posts. This week Don Smith and I are on Kauai in Hawaii for a workshop. As you might imagine, it has been pretty grueling having to endure the relentless din of crashing surf and wind-jostled palms, and as if that wasn't bad enough, each day the temperature here soars to 82, only to plummet to a frigid 74 overnight! And if I see another rainbow I think I'll scream. Somehow we've managed to tough it out, and trooper that I am, I promise to post images from the trip once I return home and recover from the ordeal.

But anyway....

One thing this trip has done is underscore my appreciation for my graduated neutral density filters. Since most of my sunrises and sunsets here have been facing the sun (a rare opportunity being on an island offers), I've had to deal with tremendous dynamic range each day. I've never been satisfied with the artificial results of HDR software and simply refuse to use it. Photoshop blending can be effective, but it's a lot of work and even then I'm not always entirely satisfied. So I'm very thankful for my plain old GND filters that enable my to hold back the brilliant sunrise/sunset highlights while pulling up detail in the foreground rocks and surf.

For this sunrise scene from Mono Lake, I arrived early enough to plan my composition, make my exposure settings, and ready my filters well before the sun arrived. I opted for f16 to get the sunburst effect (the smaller the aperture, the more pronounced the effect). When it came time to shoot I stacked a 2-stop hard and 3-stop reverse for 5 stops of correction at the horizon.

I prefer holding my GNDs to dealing with the awkwardness and potential vignetting of the screw-on filter holders. While the straightness of the horizon here makes makes things easier, I still need to contend with the transition between the dark and light areas of the filter. When my exposures are long enough, moving the filter up and down slightly during exposure helps blur the transition. Dodging and burning in Photoshop is the final touch.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

QB from Canada

Wow. The thumbnail doesn't do much justice to this. It crops the picture in exactly the wrong way. What a surprise to see after the click. Perfect, naturally.

Then again, I think I like that about amininus's automated thumbnails. Sometimes you do get quite a pleasant shock.

17 Jul 2010 6:23am

Dulcie from Danville, CA, United States

It is beautiful to have both the very distant sunset and mountains
AND the fascinating details of the rocks and water in the foreground !!

17 Jul 2010 6:27am

Jacob S. Jensen from Aarhus, Denmark

Amazing shot. The light is awesome,- well done!

17 Jul 2010 7:52am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

I love the composition and the exceptional light ! A real pleasure for the eyes. Have a nice weekend Gary :)

17 Jul 2010 8:05am

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

make me want to enter your pict and have a swimm!

17 Jul 2010 8:56am

George from Northern California, United States

Very nice image. And I am sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time toughing it out in Hawai'i.

17 Jul 2010 1:49pm

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

Wonderful depth in this image, Gary. Have a great time on Kauai!

17 Jul 2010 2:05pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

HI Gary - Hopefully by now you and Don are safely back in civilization recuperating from this traumatic event. I just purchased (FINALLY) a GND although it is not the highest price one I am happy with the other filters I have from the Mfr. so for now, at my level and budget, this will be good. Now I just have to learn more. Until now, I just had a circular polarizer and an 812 warming filter (which are both really nice actually) so thank you for this post- it was timely and encouraging - and of course your image here, as always, is astoundingly beautiful - welcome back - sorry for my blabby comment.

17 Jul 2010 6:35pm

Kala from United States

Gorgeous light, tones and composition.

17 Jul 2010 7:02pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Exquisite. Fabulous light.

17 Jul 2010 9:57pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

I love the simplicity of this, with the hopscotch rocks leading me to the rising sun! I am so sorry you must suffer Hawaii! Hope you are having a wonderful time!

18 Jul 2010 3:24am

Julie from Easton, United States

What a beautiful shot! How I would love to switch shoes with you to take away some of that grueling trip you are having! Enjoy!

18 Jul 2010 10:49pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

excellent composition from pretty much right under your feet to the wonderful golden sky! great work with the filters as well - i prefer to use filters as well and i am not too keen on blending and HDR either...

19 Jul 2010 2:36am

MK from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

awesome shot. i like

19 Jul 2010 8:59am

Bill Lawry - Celebratgrapher from North Carolina, United States

A refreshing composition well executed. Looking forward to seeing more from your arduous trip. :D

19 Jul 2010 12:48pm

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

OK, Gary, rub it in about the 'hardships' in Hawaii, then make me miss Mono Lake with this image! Your description of how you did this is quite helpful. I plan on being in the Mono Basin next June and will be eager to try this out on a Mono Lake sunrise.

19 Jul 2010 6:46pm

Demo from Villeneuve d, France

Fantastic sunset, thank for your explanation

19 Jul 2010 7:32pm

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

WOW! What a wonderful shot! I love everything about it, from the "starry" sun to the detail of the rocks in the foreground. It's simply perfect!

20 Jul 2010 11:20pm

Sylvie49 capture image from Vallée de la Loire, France

Gorgeous light, tones and composition. perfect.

23 Jul 2010 9:35am

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

Congratulations on the Color Spotlight! Very well deserved!

24 Jul 2010 12:18pm

Marie from FRESNES, France

magnifique composition, et superbes couleurs.

24 Jul 2010 5:14pm

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

Gorgeous warm tones and congrats on the spotlight!

26 Jul 2010 6:25pm