What a fun few acres of land Garden of the Gods is! The rock formations here are amazing, just like in other parts of the Southwest. Odd rocks and roots and natural twisted stuff like that has always attracted me.
So when I was on a road trip last summer taking my daughter back to school in Boulder, I found myself on the highway home passing bye close to this place as I entered Colorado Springs. I had to stop and give it a look.
Too Dark to Photograph?
The sun had already set when I got there so had to hurry if I was going to get anything. Certainly I would need my tripod bacause of the low light so there was no arguing with myself trying to justify not going to the trouble to use it. “Just set it up and sling it over your shoulder,” I had to tell myself.
It ended up that I spent over an hour walking with my camera & tripod until it was so dark a needed a flashlight to find my way back to the car. Good thing I had the tripod because some of my exposures ended up being several seconds.
Processing this HDR Photo
This photo is made from a three shot bracket. No exposure compensation, just a straight -2,0,+2 series of exposures. The people in the photo moved significantly during the three exposures so I chose to use Photomatix Pro to merge my files because of it’s de-ghosting feature that is so easy to use. Otherwise, I would have used the Photomatix merge-to-32-bit Lightroom plugin, which doesn’t do de-ghosting very well at all.
The de-ghosting feature is pretty clever but you need to pay attention to how you use it or things sometimes get a little “funny looking” in and around the area you de-ghost. With this photo, I was forced to use the underexposed frame for the people because there was just way too much movement in the other two frames. Even at that, the people are still a little blurry but acceptable. The people aren’t the subject of the photo anyway, the rocks are.
Is that Sky for Real?
What about that sky? Yes, I know it looks a little freaky huh? If I hadn’t processed this image myself my bet would be that the sky was added in from some other place & time. It wasn’t. This is the sky as it was. My guess is that the combination of the darkness, the juxtaposition of the extraordinarily naturally saturated red rocks against the clouds, plus some of the processing steps, caused this look.
When finished photographing here I was pumped up and opted to not get a room for the night in Colorado Springs. Instead, I drove another several hours to arrive in Taos, New Mexico sometimes after midnight. Taos… another place on my bucket list and in the morning I would greet sunrise at the famous, San Francisco de Asis adobe church made famous by Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams. Yum, I’m having such a great road trip!