It all started before Christmas when I saw a video of people ice skating on a frozen Tenaya Lake in Yosemite's high country. Wow, that's cool, that doesn't happen very often, I thought. Then, about halfway through the video, the filmer unwittingly showed something that had my eyes bugging out of my head: thick and crunchy pressure ridges and cracks running through the vast ice sheet covering Tenaya's surface. And that sealed the deal: since Tioga Pass is open this late into the year maybe once in a generation, I knew I needed to take advantage of this unique photographic opportunity.
The week after Christmas I set out for three days of camping, hiking, exploring, and shooting the high country near Tuolumne Meadows. My timing was just right and I had three days of incredible shooting conditions and more natural beauty than you can shake a stick at. This shot is from the sunset on the first night: a rip-roaring pink and purple glow which set the icy reflections and cracks aflame on Tenaya Lake.
If you've never been to Yosemite you should go. Even if you miss the frozen lakes on Tioga Pass, the park is still a wonder that will leave your jaw on the floor. Can't wait to lead a workshop here in Spring with Jim Patterson.
Tech notes on this photo
Tokina 12-24 f/4 at 12mm
f/9 - Sharpest spot on my lens, still adequate for full DOF with my crop sensor
Lee soft 3-stop GND filter
Cloudy White Balance
In Raw Converter (Nikon Capture NX2)
- Processed single raw file twice, once for sky and foreground, and once for the granite domes
- Global contrast for added pop
- Local contrast in the foreground to bring out the cracks and bubbles
- Manual blend of two tiffs for master composite
- Selective sharpening of the ice cracks and bubbles in the foreground, as well as the domes
- A "repair" layer to clone out some ice chunks people had thrown all over the lake, as well as some tracks carved into the ice by skaters
- Soft light burn / dodge layer, dodged through luminosity masks to bring out the thin ice crack in the lower right
- Curves layer to add a little more contrast to foreground
- Color balance to remove a lot of excess purple cast from the foreground caused by the increase in contrast (side note, just realized I could've also fixed this issue by changing my above curves layer to the "luminosity" blend mode to affect brightness values and not color values)
- Curves layer to add a little brightness to domes
- Color balance through a luminosity mask to remove excess warm cast from trees
All the best!