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Dunes | by mike dillon
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Dunes

Another from today's walk. Believe it or not, most of the Presidio, and a good chunk of all of western San Francisco, used to be made up of grasslands covering fields of sand dunes. The City put streets, houses, and Golden Gate Park on them, while the Army installed massive forests of Eucalyptus and other trees as a show of its power and ability, creating the landscape that still remains in the Presidio today. The Presidio Trust is currently in the process of restoring these native dunes to a small part of the park, seen here, which was formerly home to a Nike missile site.

 

I typically do very little processing on my photos, limiting myself to lens corrections and some adjustments to contrast, saturation, and white balance, as well as some removal of my pesky sensor dust. I don't want to get into heavy processing in general, mostly because I enjoy the part where I'm out taking photos so much more than the time sitting in front of a computer. That said, I am trying to experiment a bit more, since it can be important to know from time to time. This shot was my overprocessing experiment for the day. I liked the shadow across the dunes, but there was just no way to get the exposure right without blowing out the sky. I opted for a bracketed exposure setting the main exposure for the dunes, and going down 2 and 4 stops for the other shots to get good detail in the sky. I used an HDR merge to combine the exposures as both a black and white set and a color set, adjusted the saturation to where I wanted it, and then overlaid the color version on top of the b&w. Finally, I made the color layer slightly transparent to get a bit of the gray to come through and give it a slightly washed out look, and merged the layers for the final image.

 

I certainly wouldn't want to go through all that effort on a regular basis, especially with my terribly slow computer right now, but I had some fun with it for this shot.

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Taken on March 12, 2011