The Coming Storm

I get a lot of questions about how long I spend in Photoshop. Well. Most photos take just a few minutes... but this one was a tough one.

This shot from Snowmass Wilderness in Colorado was a real challenge. Taking this photo was an awesome experience. We watched this storm coming toward us for a short time, and then grabbed our cameras and headed out to get a few shots. The first thing that caught my eye were the colors. The brilliant golden leaves were a perfect compliment to the deep blue tones in the approaching storm. I wanted to capture that juxtaposition - and also capture the chaos in the sky. I chose a simple composition - ignoring the lake behind the trees and choosing a single peak to minimize distractions. I took several shots, waiting for a moment when the skies were full of textures.

Processing was difficult. I processed a single image twice - once for the foreground leaves and once for the background. Then blended the two with layers and masks in Photoshop. Blending was particularly difficult because some leaves were blurred and other weren't. So, feathering my mask was difficult. Too much feathering and I'd get halos around some leaves. Too little, and I'd end up with dark lines around others. In the end, I needed several layers, some precision work with my Wacom tablet, and a lot of patience to get it done.

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