Finishing The Wave

Cape Disappointment captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

I received a bunch of emails asking about the wave images I posted on my IG account a few weeks back. The common thread was, “How’d you finish them?” The answer is really simple when you think about it, you finish them in post beginning with the light captured by the camera and then carrying that through to the print. Let me explain.

The Raw image from above

There needs to be some light, even the smallest amount coming through the wave. I selected this image to dramatically make my point as you can see the light on the horizon on the right. That light bleeds through the wave in the smallest amounts. That’s all you need as long as you finish for it.

The finishing for me starts and mostly ends in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). It starts in the Basic Panel where the Raw file is loaded and my Preset is automatically applied. My Preset is simply the Standard Picture Control from the Z 6II. With that applied, I set the White & Black Point (Shift > double click on the White & Black slider).

Then the Contrast is added to separate the lights and darks of the wave. At the same time, the Clarity is moved forward. I work the two sliders in concert, one at a time until I get the look I want bringing a glow to the water. A tad of Dehaze is added and then the Highlights brought up by the above process are brought down a tad. Since I’m finishing for the light, it takes a matter of seconds. Then the image is opened in Photoshop.

This is where I do the last thing to finish the image. I run my Wave Recipe I created in Nik (here are all my Nik Recipes). And that’s it, that fast and that simple. The secret, shoot for the light, finish for the light. Hope the helps.

Why the 2nd Body

Skagit Valley captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

My entire career when I’ve headed out to photograph birds or mammals with a big lens, I’ve had a second body / lens on my shoulder. It’s actually real simple, Mother Nature is always putting on a show and while I love registering them forever on the thin emulsion of my mind, I want to share them with you. Out on the marshes of Skagit Valley to photograph the “Blonde” Bald Eagle, this gorgeous scene presented itself. Without that second body / lens (in this case the Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8) I wouldn’t have the story to share. It’s not a backup, but a primary landscape kit to complement the wildlife rig on the tripod. In my kit, that’s why the second body.

To Share or Not to Share

American Kestrel captured by D6 / 180-400VR

Some might be very tempted to crop the begiggers out of this image. Some might wanna Photoshop a photograph into this image. That’s because it is less than good, it has issues. But that’s not what I want to talk about. There are moments we are so fortunate to witness and capture out in nature that goes beyond the parameters of good or bad that simply need to be shared. An American Kestral on the wing eating the beetle it just plucked off the ground is simply a cool moment. Yep, I would love it large in the frame, would have loved much, much better light but I wouldn’t change the gesture, the story for a heartbeat. And that’s why I’m sharing it. Share your image, tell your story about your subject as you can change the world with your photography!

“Pilested … Wdoeker tree”

Pileated Woodpecker captured by D6 / 180-400VR

Everyone who knows my beautiful bride knows just how impeccable she is with her grammar. So yesterday morning when I was sitting at my desk while she was out with Maggie and a text appeared on my phone from her, “Pilested … Wdoeker tree”, I knew she was excited. That’s because she was there twenty feet away watching our first Pileated Woodpecker that had landed on the woodpecker perch and was feeding. She said she could hear me running through the house and saw a flash (I guarantee not from my speed) of me going by with camera in hand. It was ten months in the making and I wanted to record the landing.

We have seen Pileateds fly overhead but they have never stopped on any trees on The Ranch. I have “planted” two dead trees on The Ranch just for them. One is the Woodpecker Perch that has a suet feeder and a much larger diameter snag I’m hoping a woodpecker, a Pileated, will use it for a nest. With the text, I grabbed the D6 / 180-400VR (which is always on my counter ready to shoot) and ran to the garage which has the perfect angle for the Woodpecker Perch. As I pointed the lens through the window, I was struck at the total luck that the light at this moment in time was perfect, perfect for the black / white / red, crow size woodpecker. I took a couple of horrible photos through the window just in case. I then walked over to the door and slowly opened it. It didn’t budge and twenty minutes later, 341 images were on the card. It was a great Monday for photographing a “Pilested … Wdoeker tree”.

The Wild Power

Bison captured by D6 / 180-400VR

The temperatures might be well below zero, the snow is falling and the wind is blowing and the Bison get up and shake it off like it is just another day. Yellowstone in winter is simply a wonderland, classic example of our wild heritage. Every where you look the beauty comes through in so many forms. It is, the classic example of the wild power.

The Explosive Power

It stays underground and “cooks” for ninety minutes. If you were able to put an ear to the ground, you can hear the rumblings, gurgles and bangs as the pressure slowly builds. Then with a spurt and a spat it announces its coming. Then, explosion, water and steam as Old Faithful puts on the show it has been doing for centuries. It’s simply amazing, the explosive power!

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