On my Facebook page I posted a sequence of four images of mountain sheep that caught some attention. People were curious about different aspects from capture to post production and I said I would follow up with some additional details on this blog. I hope I’ll cover enough insights here to help you out.
This sequence of mountain sheep images was taken mid August, 2006 during a period when I was deeply involved in observing and capturing wildlife in their natural environment. During my three year quest I was focused on the western foothills of Alberta and the eastern interior British Columbia. I tried to revisit certain areas to capture different seasons which also allowed the possibilities of seeing different migration patterns of the wildlife.
On this mid August trip I was in the Jasper area on a favourite 10 kl. hike that takes me along the Jasper River running adjacent to the Yellow Head Trail near Talbot Lake. August is tourist time and the highway is always busy so I decided to find a more remote back road and head up into the mountains.
I found an East bound gravel road about halfway between Jasper and Hinton that looked to be less traveled and headed East up the mountain. The road ended at an small unmarked gravel pad beside a mountain stream. The stream bed was barely running but I’m sure during the spring or a heavy rain it must swell up given the right circumstances. Looking West there is a deep cut in the rocks with a drop of 20 -30 ft. I thought this would be an amazing water fall with the right flow of water. In any event I started to walk up stream and I found myself in a narrow ravine cradled between to mountains, not exactly sure which mountains these were, I’ve tried to locate the road on satellite maps but to no avail.
There is something to be said about being in a remote area by yourself. You either feel very peaceful or it can scare the crap out of you, this day was a beautiful serine day. One of the first things I like to do is sit a few minutes motionless, maybe feel the warmth of the afternoon sun and just listen, listen to the birds, hear the occasional rock falling in the distance and the trickle of the water just below my feet. Higher up in the mountains there is are unique weather patterns and this day had scattered rain showers that were a joy as the sun continuously broke through illuminating the drops on there decent.
It was the sound of some frequent rocks falling that caught my attention. I looked in that direction and saw this small herd of sheep on the opposite side of this ravine. They appeared from behind a rock cut as if they were magically appearing from the rock face. I surveyed possible vantage points that wouldn’t disturb them and slowly made my move. I ended up slightly higher than them but as it turned out it was exactly the right spot as they eventually wandered past just below me. The light source was slightly behind them which allowed for a nice rim lighting effect that worked well in the post production work. I was careful to watch my camera setting so as not to blowout any highlights. According to my metadata the total sequence lasted 3:48 sec so it was quite quick but it was well worth the climbing to this precarious perch I shot from.
Lightroom 5 does the vast majority of my post production work. There is no specific workflow that I do its always done by perception and having a sense of what each image portrays to me. At capture I shoot manual and change my settings quite regularly almost frame by frame. When looking through the viewfinder and framing the image, I almost always I have a particular idea how I want the image to look when its done and printed. In this case almost every frame has some in camera adjustment as I shot from splendid warm highlights to high contrast shadow. This one facet of shooting causes me to adapt my post production so that a sequence of images can translate into a similar look and feel, if a sequence is what I desired.
I started using OnOne software just over two years ago and its used mainly to finish and to render a more dynamic look in an image. There is an amazing set of filter that can evolve images in an endless number of ways and with each filter there is a complete set of control to customize the effect. In my images a softer more natural look with a slightly greater dynamic range is what I was trying to accomplish here.
This a before, completed in LR5 and after using OnOne software.
When studying processing I surf the net visiting a variety of photographic and photo competition sites. I look for trends that I like but mostly dislike. I’ve found there is a strong tendency to have images with over pushed sharpening which makes them loose there reality and become to digitized in their feel. When I analyze its more to confirm what I’m visualizing for my images thats important. One must consider and recognize with any desired processing technique it really boils down to beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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Great photos! The ochre background and the slight vignette give the images a timeless quality.