Into the Abyss
I am feeling remarkably alive as I sit cross-legged on the edge of a lethal drop. A drop straight into the Colorado river, running through the meander known as Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, USA. I stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into me. My heart pumps at a loud volume. I am also staring straight into the setting sun. If I lean forward just a tad I look down a 300 meter drop. I am just a few centimeters from learning to fly. My camera and tripod at lowest setting stands between my legs. I hope to create a magical dusk landscape but my brain is very occupied staring into the abyss, feeling incredibly alive.
The view is extraordinary, the wind gentle and the air warm and dry. This meander has been carved by the Colorado River snaking through the landscape but now dammed by Glen Canyon Dam. Something possessed the water to create a large perfect and dramatic horseshoe shaped bend; appropriately named Horseshoe Bend. The red sandstone light up like fire in the dusk light and I have once again summoned a few clouds. With the very last of the dusk light fading I create this image, Horseshoe Bend:
Horseshoe Bend, The Image
This is of course a High Dynamic Range image as no camera, and not even the human eye can capture the dramatic difference between the sunset and the dark canyon. The image is of a stitch of 2 horizontal images, for both images 3 exposures were captured at +3, 0 and –3 stops. Shot at 17mm as the bend is actually very close to my position, much closer than the 17mm shows it. The bit of foreground you see in the left bottom corner is the rock I sit on, staring into the abyss. The image of Horseshoe Bend looks desolate and dramatically otherworldly remote, I really like that. In reality it is very accessible, just a short hike from the US route 89 road outside of Page, Arizona. A few other photographers had joined me but from my viewpoint on the edge I could see only the abyss.
My HDR process is completely manual as I dislike the output of all the HDR software I have tested. No matter how I process, the image is overdone, overcooked, flat and washed out. For me, manual HDR is the only way. I load the exposures in Photoshop after developing them in Lightroom and begin a long process of manually blending the layers. Tedious but I do like the results. The image of course looks otherworldly and ‘supernatural’ as your eyes would never see it like this but I very much like the dramatic effect of this abyss.
What is your view on the image and my manual HDR process?