Tag Archives: Mt. Evans

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

The year in review: My favorite 2011 Photos

I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have a joyful and happy holiday season!

Photographer Jim Goldstein has an annual tradition of organizing a “best photos of the year” listing.   So it’s a good time to put together my own third annual “Favorite photos of the year” post.  You can revisit 2009 here, and 2010 here.

Again in 2011, I’ve been blessed with a huge amount of photo opportunities. The 2011 folder on my hard drive takes up about 178 GB of space. Wow – good thing storage is so cheap now days!  I’m still using the following system to rate my photos.  The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2011 .

  • 1 star   – The photo is interesting (262)
  • 2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (400)
  • 3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (81)
  • 4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
  • 5 stars – My favorite photo ever (none, I’m not done making photos yet!)

Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve been using this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. I’ve reviewed my 2011 photos and selected what I think are my best.  Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.

You can click on each of these to go to Flickr and see a larger version.  Or you can click this link to go to the set on Flickr.

Here we go.  I have 3 mammals, 3 birds, 2 landscapes, and 3 miscellaneous subjects …

Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve
November:  Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree. More info: http://edrosack.com/2011/11/24/landscapes-and-bobcat-at-the-circle-b-bar-reserve/


Baby mountain goat
July: Baby mountain goat, Mt. Evans summit, Colorado. There were several families of mountain goats on the way up and at the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip. More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/07/10/mount-evans-redux/


Young deer at Viera Wetlands
September: Young deer at Viera Wetlands. View large and check out the eyebrows and whiskers! More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/09/04/late-afternoon-at-viera-wetlands/


Barred Owl watches photographers
January: Barred Owl watches photographers. More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/01/30/catching-up/


Eastern Meadowlark
December: Eastern Meadowlark, Blackpoint Wild Life Drive. More info: http://edrosack.com/2011/12/17/merritt-island-scouting-report-saturday-december-10/


Florida Scrub Jay watches us
June: Florida Scrub Jay watches us.  One or two birds in this Scrub Jay family were real posers. And one of those was a “dive bomber”. It flew at our heads a few times trying to discourage us. More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/06/19/a-summertime-visit-to-minwr-blackpoint-and-scrub-ridge-trail/


Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve
November: Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve. More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/11/24/landscapes-and-bobcat-at-the-circle-b-bar-reserve/


It was a little cloudy this morning
December: It was a little cloudy this morning. Blackpoint Wild Life Drive. I’ve enjoyed playing with an Infrared modified Olympus EPL-1 camera.  More info: http://edrosack.com/2011/12/17/merritt-island-scouting-report-saturday-december-10/


Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery
March: Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. I’d never been to Arlington before this trip. As a US Navy Veteran and a patriot, I have to admit it made a huge impression on me. More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/03/19/washington-dc/


Flavia, in color
December: Flavia, in color. American Photo Model Shoot, Orlando, 12/3/11.  My first time photographing models was a real learning experience.  More info:  http://edrosack.com/2011/12/09/orlando-american-photo-model-shoot-workshop-december-2011/


My Grandfather's Pocket Watch
June: My Grandfather’s Pocket-watch. After the Orlando Watch Company repaired it, it’s working fine.  This is a 1921 Elgin pocket-watch, marked Wadsworth Referee 20 year 5069868.  More info: http://edrosack.com/2011/06/25/grandfathers-pocket-watch/

 

I hope you’ve had a great photo 2011 too.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some more photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mount Evans Redux

I’ve been to Mount Evans before and written about it here.  I got a chance to go back this week and my second visit was as good as the first.  Maybe even better, since I showed this wonderful place off to Sara, Mike, and Julie.

The highest paved road in North America starts in Idaho Springs, Colorado and winds for 28 miles around tight switchbacks to an altitude of just over 14,100 feet.  There’s a small parking lot near the summit, and a short (but vertical) hike to the very top at 14,270 feet.  The road is quite narrow in spots, and is exciting or scary depending on your attitude and its altitude / slope.  There are many places to pull over that offer outstanding views of the surrounding landscapes and wildlife.

Bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pine:  This species of tree is the longest lived single organism on earth

Take I-70 west from Denver and exit at County Road 103.  The first half of the drive from there is pretty but not too out of the ordinary.  The fee station is around the halfway point, and this is where most of the excitement begins. Pick up a brochure so you’ll have a map and information about the park.

Both times I’ve gone have been in early July so I can’t say much about the rest of the year.  Try to visit on a weekday to avoid crowds, and if you can’t go on a weekday – leave early.  The only day we could drive up was the 4th, so we left around 7am.  When we asked the ranger at the fee station, he said it wasn’t crowded yet but would be, and recommended we go up to the top and stop at places on the way down.  If you don’t, you might not get a parking spot – they get very limited at the top as the day goes on.  We saw lots of cars headed up as we were leaving.

Wildflowers are abundant in July.  Even above 14,000 feet where the terrain seems barren – you can see flowers in between the rocks.  July is also a great time to view wildlife.  On this trip we saw a Deer, Chipmunks, Elk, Mountain Goats,  Marmots, and a Pika.

Baby mountain goat
Baby mountain goat –  There were several families of mountain goats near the summit.  This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background.  It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip.

Pair of Marmots
Pair of Marmots

At the summit, the average summer temperature is ~44 degrees (F) and the average wind is ~30 mph, so we were particularly blessed with a low temp of 55 and very calm winds.  The winds were so calm that on the way down we decided to stop and hike to a couple of pools of water, hoping for a photo of the clouds reflecting in the ice melt.  It seemed like a really short hike downhill from the road to this pool.  When we turned around to go back uphill, the car looked really, really tiny and far, far away.

Catch pool reflection
Catch pool reflection and Mike admiring the view

If you’re ever in the Denver area, you just have to visit Mount Evans.  It’s spectacular and very accessible.  Flatlanders like me shouldn’t do the trip on their first day at altitude.  I’m not in the best of shape and at 14,000 feet I found I was out of breath even after short walks.  A few days to acclimate at around 5000 feet may have helped.

Click on any of the photos above to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version.  You can see the rest of my Mount Evans photos from this trip here, and you can see photos from my earlier trip here.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, 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.