UPDATED: Garden of the Gods

Thanks to the haranguing of GregT, I have reprocessed this to scale back on the HDR even more. New, and hopefully final, version:

Actually, I’ve reprocessed it five or six times. Which is a pain, for several reasons. Mainly, this image is a composite of nine shots – three bracketed shots of the left, right and center sections, compiled with Photomatix and Photoshop, and polished in Color Efex Pro, Dfine and Viveza. Also, it’s 20×60 at 300 pixels per inch, which means we’re talking about crunching an image that’s over a gig in size. I love my MacBook, but that’s a big plow for one little horse to pull.

So, here’s hoping Sensei is happy with this one.
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Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs. This is my first cut at a panorama.

9 thoughts on “UPDATED: Garden of the Gods

  1. Ah, you’re in my old stomping ground. Grad high school and BAs in college there. You get so jaded to the vision of the things around you … I’d forgotten how beautiful these are, with the Peak in the BG. Thanks for the reminder. BTW … the pano is definitely the way to work with this. Nicely done.

  2. Good direction, GT. And good execution, Sam. The sky definition is much better/dramatic. The wider crop gives Pikes Peak in the BG a base at the left from which to rise. The contrast increase in the mountains in the BG is something you always need with images shot at altitude in order to get what you actually saw. But I’m not happy with the heavier colorization of the sandstone ridges in the Garden of the Gods (too much yellow?). Those ridges are so well known that any push to the color is immediately read as false, which places the entire image to question. But, I’m just one person and I just lived there for more than a decade.

  3. I’m not a geology guy – the sandstone is the red features or the white in front of them? I didn’t intentionally add any yellow, so what you’re probably seeing is an artifact of the contrast + a wee bit of graduated neutral density. I did go back in and desaturate the white foreground space a tad, though.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about shooting and processing philosophy. As you know, there are some hardcore naturalists out there who profess a distaste for ANY tech shenanigans, including such silliness as cropping. On the other end are people who are less photographers than they are graphic artists.

    It will come as no surprise to you, given how long you’ve known me, that I’m sort of targeting what we might call the U2/Baudrillard Philosophy – even better than the real thing. Hyper-realism. Enhanced reality. Etc. Which means a bump to the right on the Drama slider in most cases. No real attempt at pure critical art, but instead a take on popular art that tries to be as good as possible in its essence, but also exhibiting no fear of the digital editing process.

    This shot seems to be like that, I think. And if it causes someone to call into question my credibility as an artist, let me know. I have four books of poetry they can read.

  4. Also, the crop you comment on. That’s actually less about crop, per se, and more about using a different set of shots. The first one you saw, with the really tight crop, was shot at 70mm focal length. Since I’m outputting for a 20×60 pano, that left me no choice but to crop way tight horizontally. I also shot the same images at 50mm, and that gave me a lot more freedom on the horizontal axis.

  5. Sam, your comments on your goals for your art are well-received. And though i may critique the hell out of a piece or two, I would not want to ever suggest you should become ordinary. What I was considering was the idea of how much we can alter the reality before it becomes unacceptable. This Garden of the Gods work of yours is an excellent example of you working to push the edge, and my need as a former resident from way back for that edge to not be pushed. The tradition in seeing the GOG as it is, is important to me. When I was growing up, it was far more than a tourist romp. It was a place to hang. A lot of desperate living and personal stuff happened there in that area, and I was shaped by more than one morning sitting on the hood of a car there (sometimes with someone, sometimes not), watching the morning sun rise after one of those nights.

    When I see that history of mine changed up, I’m reminded of the hard loss in the words by Chrissey Hind, “I went back to Ohio / But my city was gone.”

    All this from a simple alteration of the tone of the sandstone. Hmm. Well, you can’t satisfy everyone, Sam. Go for it.

  6. I didn’t mean to destroy your childhood memories. 🙂

    You don’t need a lecture from me on the subjectivity of memory, I know. There are probably as many experiences of a place as there are people (or more, since that experience is shaped by where you are mentally at a given moment). Your particular experience of the place would call for a far grittier, more naturalistic take than I have here. I’m not even sure that a panorama COULD capture it, since your memories are likely tied to specific microsites in side the park. Your memories are intimate, not macro.

    Ah, the joys of this new art form. You’re raising questions that never occurred to me before now…..

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