• Creative Processing – Reshaping Lower Antelope Canyon

















There is just not enough time to go and to return to the many places in this country that I find  visually stimulating, ripe for creative interpretation, inspirational, and spiritual. Even though most great areas that the average person can get to are overshot and sometimes need a person to direct traffic in the parking lot, each of us has the tools available (with a little imagination) to take an overshot subject and completely reinterpret it.

Lower Antelope Canyon is such a place. I’ve haven’t been to the slot canyons for about 5 years, but often go into my images from AZ and will let my mind wander over the files until something catches my eye.

I didn’t recall ever noticing the color image (above). On the surface it’s an average subject for a slot canyon, weakly composed, but with interesting layers of light.

My first impulse was to make selections and affect the color/ contrast of each selection to create depth, but then it became clear that B&W was the way to go. The B&W version had more punch, but the same weak composition.

I chose to reshape the image. After all, there’s no point of reference; no horizon line; no orientation. FYI, a great deal of the images seen from lower antelope are shot almost straight up. This image was shot pointing the camera upwards 75 degrees.

Here are the processing steps, assuming that you have a working knowledge of photoshop:

Step 1: I  dramatically warped the image, clicking and dragging the upper left and middle part of the image towards the left. This removed the black shadow and created more dramatic lines and flow.

Step 2: I rotated the image slightly to the left, being careful not to clip the upper right corner graphic.

Step 3: Many areas were selected and saved, addressing each region separately to create separation between the rock layers.

Step 4: Used the radial tool, in the Camera Raw Filter, to create a light path through the middle of the frame, darkening the corners.

Step 5: The dark corners needed to be lightened a bit. I used the dodge tool in PS to slightly brighten those corners.

Step 6: In order to add luminosity to the brightest area of the rocks, I used the dodge tool to lighten the middle rock flow.

Step 7: Finishing up, using Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity actions, I added the Orton effect to the highlights only, then cropped up a bit from the bottom.

Step 8: Sharpened for web. (Tiff file not sharpened until print output)

The visual impact of the optimized file is more profound than the original RAW file, with greater drama and a sense of depth.

I always find that each time I go back to an image bank and reprocess a file, the image deepens or I know more quickly when it’s not worth it.

Drop a line if you have any questions.

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Thanks for taking the time.

We’re off to the Smokies tomorrow for our Smokies Winter Shoot Out.

Spring is not far behind!

See ya online!