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Polychrome Revisted: A RAW Deal


So back in 2006, I’m in one of those once-in-a-lifetime locations,  in interesting morning light.  I’m standing outside the park bus in the Polychrome area of Denali National Park, Alaska.  So what do I do?  I decide to shoot jpeg only because I’m worried about running out of memory cards/storage later in the trip.   Bad move!   The plan was to stop at this area on the way back, get off the bus and roam.   Great idea except the bus driver did not stop here on the way back.  By the time I got off the bus he was already down the mountain.   Anyhow, so that leaves me with only jpegs of this scene.   The cloud tops were really blown out here and there, I expect I would have had better luck recovering some detail there if I had been shooting RAW, as I do 99.9 percent of the time.  So I have added this to my list of “what I would tell myself if I slip through a hole in space-time and find myself having a conversation with my past self”.    ” Tell dad to buy Pizza Hut stock (1960’s)!    Buy Microsoft stock!   Shoot RAW everywhere in Denali!”

I revisited this image, and did a single exposure HDR version…meaning I used the original jpeg, made  -2 and +2 versions of it, then ran it through Photomatix.   The result is what you see here.  If only I had been shooting RAW, I think I would have had better luck with the sky/clouds.   Anyhow, it is still pretty and I will always think of this scene the next time I am tempted to shoot jpeg only.    I may have even posted this image in the early days of my blog, but I am a little better at the HDR nowadays so no harm done.  I hope.


5 responses

  1. ken bello

    In the end, it’s a fantastic photo. And a clever way to rescue the original. It has a mild surreal quality that is really nice.
    If I was running out of card space, i would have switched to jpg, too. Smart move. From there I would have converted the jpgs to TIFFs to prevent any jpg degradation when re-saving the files. That’s a trick I learned when I started at the Museum because all they shot was jpgs (they didn’t have a camera that shot RAW at the time).

    January 9, 2012 at 8:19 am

  2. 50 States Design Project

    Oh my goodness. That’s incredible.

    January 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

  3. Impressive!

    January 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

  4. Great capture, outstanding post processing. I really like the color tones going all the way from the warm side of the spectrum to the cool side.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

  5. Thanks to everybody for the comments.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

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