New images: three Santa Cruz Island sunsets (polls)
Here are three sunset images from my recent trip to Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park.
They were taken at Potato Harbor Overlook, which is reached through a 5-mile RT hike that is the most rewarding in the Scorpion Ranch area. The fjord-like Potato Harbor has a more dramatic shape than the over coves I have seen so far in Channel Island.
As I was photographing straight into the sun, it was necessary to control the contrast, otherwise the sky would have been blown out or the seascape totally dark. On my 5×7 camera film camera, I had no choice but to use a graduated neutral density filter. However, for those digital images (Canon 1Ds III), I preferred to blend multiple exposures in order to avoid the darkening of the cliff on the left which would have resulted from using the filter.
The three images were taken from slightly different viewpoints, 15 minutes before sunset, at sunset, and 15 minutes after sunset, respectively.
Which image do you prefer ? (click link for poll)
I used three different techniques to blend the exposures. One of the images was blended using directly Photoshop’s HDR function (except for the water, where this created nasty ghosting artifacts). The two other images were done by superimposing (using layers) a bright image over a dark image, and then adjusting locally the transparency of the bright image. For the first, I selected the brightest areas using a luminosity mask, that I then erased. The advantage of luminosity masks is that they produce continuous, gradual selections that don’t result in visible transitions or halos. For the other image, I worked entirely manually, erasing the upper layer by hand with the eraser tool, with the brush set to hardness 0.