Picture: El Capitan and Half Dome during a late winter sunset, Yosemite National Park, California
This week I had a potential client call and ask about a portfolio image similar to the one above. He asked about having Half Dome lighter. I gave him an example of how (IMHO) poorly trying to lighted Half Dome would look if I tried to “Add light” just to Half Dome. Part of the appeal, at least for me, was the strong contrast in the type of warm lighting on El Capitan (on the left) and Half Dome (in the center) in much darker shadowed light.
However, not wanting to disappoint a potential client, I offered to go back and look through my RAW files, and see if there was a more appropriate frame.
I recall once when working for Galen Rowell, a client had seen an image and asked if we had a version with more fill in blank. I vividly remember tearing through stacks of metal archive boxes searching for an outtake from a climb Galen had done back in the 1970’s in Alaska. After hours of searching, I finally found the right box, and four outtakes, kept but not thrown away, even though they were nearly a stop too dark. One of those dark frames had just the variation the client wanted, and as a result we licensed the outtake for thousands of dollars for use as an ad.
With that experience in mind, I plugged in my RAW File Archive Hard Drive, went back to the trip in question, the date in question, and the CF Card in question. Because I had considered this a portfolio-type image, I had saved all of my raw files from this shoot, including exposure, lighting, and compositional variations. I found one frame taken a number of minutes after the original where some additional light had filtered into the scene, and the original raw file was shot with a lighter exposur. I quickly copied over the RAW settings for the select and opened the image in Photoshop, where I selectively added a little extra brightness and contrast using curves, while trying to keep the scene looking realistic.
Of course, I hope the person becomes a client. Even if they don’t, I’m curious which image people prefer? This one, or the darker original portfolio image? It’s interesting for me to think that after several years, maybe the redux is better? Share your thoughts below.
Image ID#: A0703_YOSd1-0088
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