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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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September 04, 2005
The one I wanted to take...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Photography

Narrowscomposite1 The last couple of photos that I've put up have been from Zion Canyon National Park (in the SW corner of Utah) that I was fortunate to visit once again last weekend.

I went there for the first time as a 10th grader in high school on a family vacation and immediately identified with the place on what I can only call the spiritual level. Over the more than 30 years since, I have visited again something over 40 times.

I'll put up some more detail on the park when I get to the 'many photos' post that is still coming up.

The penultimate location - for me - in this park is the entrance to The Narrows, in the upper reaches of this accessible canyon. It is a hiking trail through the river - at this point about sixty feet wide - and the peak straight ahead is almost 2,000 feet high.

As you might imagine, this is a very difficult place to take a photograph and get any sense of scale - and most importantly - deal with the light dynamics of this particular scene. I've wanted to be able to meet this challenge for more than 30 years.

Though it is possible to technically capture this scene through a wide angle lens, it is completely impossible to set a camera exposure with a single frame to actually be able to see anything within the canyon without completely washing out the 'lit' portions above. Conversely, a setting that provides good exposure for the 'lit' peaks and sky, makes that canyon and river completely dark.

It's taken me a good bit more work than I wanted, but I finally have something that I'm looking forward to framing that I think is a good representation of what the entrance to the Zion Narrows looks like.

This is actually four photographs, composited (thank you Photoshop!) one on top of the other, that I took from a tripod in the center of the Virgin River last Sunday. The lower frame is a good capture of the river with a good sense of scale provided by a number of people taking a brief excursion into the Narrows.

The top two frames also captured the looming white sandstone tower and upper rock outcroppings with great color as well.

The second frame up, however, proved quite troublesome. No matter how I attempted to shoot it, it just came out way overexposed. I liked the sunlight angle into the canyon very much but I just couldn't get a good exposure anywhere above the river.

So what'd I do? I took the shot anyway and composited it in with Photoshop - so I had good exposure dymanics on the lower frame and the upper two frames and then a second frame from the bottom that was very white overexposed (the whole thing was the color of the sunlight 'splash' above the trees in the lower center there.

I had taken a full exposure of the whole canyon with a wide angle that (though very dark in the river and along the canyon walls) had good reproduction of the center section.

So what you see here in the lower center section is entirely hand colored (with Photoshop and the Wacom tablet of course), using the wide angle picture as color management. This was far more painstaking than I wanted it to be, but I'm really pleased with the results.

With the original stacked image, I now have a photo of the Zion Narrows that will print out at about 20 inches wide by 60 inches high (with no visible grain) with colors throughout (like you'd see it with your eyes)! I'm pretty fired up about that and thought I would share.   

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People Pulling

Dang MC.. Your vacations are way cooler than mine.. Beautiful photography too, as usual.

EMCEE: Jake! How the heck are you? Great to hear from you. Thanks for the nice words.

Posted by: Jake at Sep 5, 2005 7:41:04 AM

You certainly captured the majesty of the place!

EMCEE: Thanks m'lady. It's so difficult to capture the real thing isn't it?

Posted by: Diana at Sep 5, 2005 9:23:20 AM

Great job! It's been over 20 years since I was there. Nice to see it again. That's a fantastic picture!

EMCEE: Thanks Jan. Praise coming from you is praise indeed.

Posted by: JLB at Sep 5, 2005 10:07:40 AM

Wow! That's going to be a heck of a frame! 5 feet by almost two feet. What a labor of love that was. It's an amazing picture.

Posted by: Ana at Sep 5, 2005 5:54:22 PM

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