Tag Archives: Elk

Reprocessing a Mt. Evans Elk Herd panorama

Back in July of 2007, I wrote a post about Mt. Evans, Colorado and included this image of an Elk herd we saw there:

Elk herd near mile marker 8 on Mount Evans  (2007 version)

At that time, I was using a Nikon D80 camera and made this photo with an entry level 70-300 telephoto lens.  I remember wanting to capture as much detail as possible, so instead of making one exposure of the whole herd, I zoomed in as far as I could and made four different frames at 300mm (450mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/100 sec, and iso 100. I ran across these images in my photo archive recently and wanted to see if I could reprocess the RAW files for a better result.  I thought you might be interested in my work flow – not so you can reproduce my results, but to give you some ideas on how to process your own images.

Here is one of the original RAW files SOOC (straight out of camera).  The white balance and exposure aren’t optimum and sharpness isn’t very good either – maybe due to poor lens stabilization and optical performance (and maybe due to my poor technique).

Here are the steps I went through to reprocess this:

  • Used DxO Photo Lab software to convert from RAW to .tiff and take advantage of the built in Prime Noise reduction algorithm.  I like that this software applies camera and lens specific corrections to all images.  It also returns the results to Lightroom still in RAW / DNG format.
  • Made basic adjustments (exposure, white balance) in Lightroom, and copied to all four frames.
  • Opened as layers in PhotoShop.
  • Stitched the frames into a panorama: Edit -> Auto-align Layers; Edit -> Auto-blend Layers.  At this point, it looked like this:

When I made the original frames, I didn’t cover enough ground for a rectangular composition.  To fix this, I used PhotoShop’s excellent Content Aware Fill on the missing corners.

  • Select the blank areas with the Magic Wand tool.  Expand the selection (~3 pixels).  Edit -> Content Aware Fill
  • use the clone tool to eliminate any obvious fill anomalies.

And then I worked on sharpness.  Here is a 300% look at the area near the Bull Elk:

Not very sharp.  So I:

  • Duplicated the layer and applied the Topaz Sharpen AI filter.  I used the Stabilize method with a Remove Blur value of 0.70.  Here’s the much improved result:

Topaz Sharpen AI can work wonders on this kind of problem, but it does take a lot of CPU power.  Depending on your hardware, you might have to be (very) patient.

  • The final step in Photoshop was to use Topaz Clarity for some added midrange contrast.  I applied the Nature -> Fur and Feathers II preset.
  • Back in LightRoom: I cropped to a 2:3 format; tweaked White Balance and exposure again; boosted texture and shadows on the Elk with a circular adjustment and range mask; Reduced green and yellow saturation; Used a -12 highlight priority vignette and added grain at 15.

And this is the new version I just posted to Flickr.

Mt. Evans Elk herdMt. Evans Elk herd (2019 version) – Near mile marker 8. Quite a harem! There are about 60 elk in this image: A single bull, ~10 young ones, and the rest female.

It took me about 30 minutes to do this.  Was it worth the effort? I can’t answer for you.  I think it looks much better and I’m glad I saved those RAW files! As long as i can re-start from the original sensor data, I can leverage newer software and get better results.  I know a lot of folks don’t enjoy computer work, but I do – so to me it’s worth it.

Click on any of these to see larger versions.  I have other Mt. Evans (and Colorado) photos in this album on Flickr.  And if you have any questions on this, I’ll be happy to try and answer them.  Just ask in a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make (or reprocess) some photos!

©2007 and 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Theraputic Photography

Why do we photograph?  For many reasons:  To capture a moment and save it.  To document something, so others can see what we see.  To amuse or delight viewers with our images.  To create art as a form of self-expression.  To report facts as in a newspaper, or slant facts as in an advertisement.

Most of the time I’m trying to make something interesting or beautiful.  To show viewers what I’ve seen and how I’ve seen it.  I also like to record where I’ve been.  And making family photos  at gatherings / events is also important to me.

Great gloomy plains
Great Gloomy Plains – Photographs often reflect the photographer’s mood.  I made this photo during a break in a light snowstorm near the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Hudson, Colorado.

For the last couple of weeks, my photography has served another purpose – one that I hadn’t ever considered.

My Mother was 80 years old and apparently in worse health than any of us knew.  She passed away while in the hospital for back surgery.  Even though she hated to carry around her oxygen tank, she was sharp and active until the end.  Mom was a great woman and much loved by everyone who knew her.  She was a wonderful mother and I miss her terribly.

Lynn and I went to Denver to be with family and help settle Mom’s estate.  Her affairs were in good order, but there was still a lot to do.  As you might imagine, it was an emotional and stressful time.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk, photographed near Buffalo Bill’s Grave outside of Denver, Colorado

Of course this wasn’t a photo trip, but I did decide to bring a small point and shoot camera.  I’m very glad I did.  During the two weeks we were there, we took a couple of short side trips.  I found that when concentrating on photography, I could exclude other things from my mind and feel almost normal for a while.  It really helped me cope and get my emotions back toward a more even keel.  These are three of the photos I made.

Sunrise over Chatfield Lake 2

 Sunrise over Chatfield Lake – I made this photo on the morning we left to return to Orlando.

Photography helps us remember. It can also help us forget. At least for a short time.

You can see more Denver images in this set on Flickr.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos.

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Road Narrows Ahead – North America's highest paved roadway

Mount Evans is about 35 miles west of Denver. We left early (before 6) and were up on the mountain by 9, but we stopped quite a few times on the way. It could take you more or less time depending on how many stops you make and what the traffic is like. since we went up on a weekday, we saw very few cars. To get there, take I70 west out of the city, to the 3rd exit for Idaho Springs (route 103 south).

Summit lake, clouds and flowers on Mount Evans

The Mt. Evans road is the highest paved road in north America and is 14,200 feet at the top. I’ve been to Denver many times but hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve been listening to the Nikonians Image Doctors podcast and they recommended this place a couple of times (ID#39 adn ID#45) so I wanted to see it while I was out there. It is very much worth the trip! If you go, try to make it on a weekday. The weekends are supposed to be very crowded. This Mt. Evans website has a lot of helpful information.

Our drive was quite spectacular. It started out very cloudy, with some light rain, but the top was above the clouds and on the way down, it began to clear. We saw a lot of wildlife and July is apparently a very good time for wildflowers.

Elk herd near mile marker 8 on Mount Evans

Lynn and I are both flat-landers from Florida and we were out of breath at the top at even the slightest exercise. You’ll want to plan carefully and prepare for any hikes you want to do. There are some very spectacularly fit people out there. We saw several riding bicycles all the way to the top.

You’ll probably use a wide angle lens the most. A long lens will be helpful for some wildlife, although you can get very close to the goats and marmots.

My gallery of Mount Evans photos is here

©2007, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.