The Making of Tsegi Overlook at Dawn

Tsegi Overlook at dawn

Tsegi Overlook at dawn

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona, USA / November 2013

Canyon De Chelly

I attended the Page Fine Art Photography Summit with Alain Briot and guest speaker Jeff Schewe in November 2013, and had the opportunity to photograph for several days in Page, and on the workshop following the summit, one of the places we visited was Canyon De Chelly near Chinlee in Arizona. The image "Tsegi Overlook at Dawn" was taken before sunrise one morning, and I will show you how I worked on that image back in the studio.

If you click on any of the images, you ca see a larger version to get a better impression on what processing was done at that stage.

Capturing the image

The first thing to do when creating a photograph, is of course to set up your camera and capture the image. When i make an image I always photograph in raw format and expose so that the greatest possible amount of data is available for later processing. This meant that the images out of the camera donīt look like much, because they are not meant to be used without any post processing.

This image was created by merging together 3 images taken wit my Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 lens as described in my article "Build a View Camera with your Canon 5D". And the images below was the images as they where captured in raw format.

RAW capture 1 of 3
RAW capture 2 of 3
RAW capture 3 of 3

This is how the mage would look if I just merged the three images together without any further processing.

RAW captures stitched tigether

Processing in Lightroom

My processing in Lightroom has two important goals: the first goal is to get the correct white balance of the image, the second goal is to get the major tonal adjustments right.

It's important to do the white balance and the major tonal adjustments, on the raw files because those files have the most information available for editing.

Capture 1 of 3 after processing in Lighroom
Capture 2 of 3 after processing in Lighroom
Capture 3 of 3 after processing in Lighroom

At this stage, you can se that I have corrected the white balance, done the major global tonal adjustments like exposure and lighting up the darker areas of the images, and recovered details in the highlights. I have also done some of the global color corrections.

Processing in Photoshop

The first step in Photoshop is to merge the images together. The image below is the result of that process.

Starting point for Photoshop

Starting point for Photoshop

November 2013

When that is done, the next step is to crop and level the image so the horizon looks straight. The original image was actually level it's the horizon that it's a getting lower towards the left. But that doesn't look right, so I choose to level the image in a way that makes the horizon to look level, even if it's not if you are standing there looking at it in reality.

Finally I start to work on the colours in the image, to bring out the image I want. The final image is below.

Tsegi Overlook at dawn

Tsegi Overlook at dawn

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona, USA / November 2013

Ronny A. Nilsen
Norway, September 2014