Clouds and Stone

It was Sunday afternoon and I went for walk and I looked at the clouds as I often do and eventually got the notion that there could be a fantastic sunset. So, I turned around and headed back home to grab my camera backpack and head to the river. I wanted to get to the river early enough to check out the water level and scout out a few vantage points, but I always come back to this exposed stone on the river bottom.

The clouds were long mid-level clouds that echoed the shape and path of the river from this location. So, I set about trying to make that reflection work with the river bed. The below image is early before the sun was setting and gives you an idea of my initial view and ideas of the scene. It is a single exposure shot at 16mm focal length.

North Fork San Gabriel River Before Sunset

I then noticed the grooves in the river bed and worked on getting the cloud reflections to connect with these grooves. The clouds curve off toward the horizon as does the river and stone. The image below was taken approximately 7 minutes before actual sunset and the clouds were beginning to catch a lot of of warm light from the side and I was getting excited about how this would look in a few minutes. The image below is a single exposure shot at 16mm focal length.

North Fork San Gabriel River at Sunset

The color continued to develop and I continued to shoot. I was concerned that 16mm might be a bit too wide and leave the clouds compressed in the distance, so I got down lower and shot the image below at 24mm. This image was shot at 6 minutes before sunset, and it turns out it was at the apex of the color in the clouds.

North Fork San Gabriel River at Sunset

To edit these images, I started with Adobe Vivid in Lightroom and then adjusted the exposure of the shadows and highlights. Then I worked on the saturation and luminance of the of the warm tones to get them to sing. I also masked off the sky and adjusted the contrast to bring out the texture in the clouds. I found the foliage on the river banks to be far too intensely green for my taste, so I reduced the green saturation and luminance. I did have a lot of fun editing these images.

The sun set on time and all the color went away. Often the color will come back 5 or 10 minutes after sunset as the sun illuminates the clouds from below, but not on this day. I waited around until 20 minutes after sunset watching the sky grow more and more gray. I actually went home thinking that I didn’t capture much and didn’t even look at my images until the next evening. The image below was shot at 12 minutes after sunset.

North Fork San Gabriel River after Sunset

I can’t believe I was the only one in this spot on a Sunday evening enjoying the beautiful scene, but it was nice to have the place to myself.

14 thoughts on “Clouds and Stone

  1. The top photo looks kind of like crab legs crawling across the sky. I think I like it best, even though it doesn’t have the grooves or the colors of the next photos. Congrats on being at the right place at the right time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I generally expose so as to have all of my highlight data and bring up the shadows as I know that I get really good shadow detail from this camera. If I do clip the highlights, there is no recovering that information.

      Also, as you can probably see, I really worked on the color in the clouds.

      Like

    1. I try to make myself edit one to close to the way I want it and then copy those edits onto the other images in the series to save work. Then I come back to it later, make more changes because “what was I thinking when I edited it the first time?” then copy that onto the others again. I often have to go and manually adjusts any masks that I put on. But, that is what I did here.

      Like

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