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Breathless - Sand Harbor State Park, Lake Tahoe

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Press L to view large - it looks so much better on black


Lake Tahoe has many beautiful places along its shores, but for me Sand Harbor is at the top of the list. The way the white granite boulders merge with the beautifully clear, turquoise water is simply incredible. On this night I was shooting a sunset that started off without a bang. In fact it was so boring I began to pack up my gear to leave. But as I turned around to head back to the car, the clouds to the northeast began to light up with beautiful pink and purple hues. Tearing my camera back out of my bag I set up a composition which highlighted the clarity of the water, the white granite, and the reflection of the beautiful light show happening above the mountains in front of me. With the beauty of the scene, and a complete lack of any wind, it seemed as though Tahoe and I were both left breathless.


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Tech Notes on this Photo



Nikon D300s

Tokina 12-24 mm

ISO100 - To help stretch out the shutter speed

f/10 - as always I started out at f/8 since that's the sharpest spot on my lens and it helps me defocus scratches, drops, and dust on my filters/lens. In this case I wanted to increase the shutter speed a little bit to help smooth out the water as much as possible. Turns out there wasn't much difference to the smoothness in the end, but this shot at f/10 had the best light.

6 sec

12 mm on a crop sensor

Lee 3-stop, 2-stop, and 1 soft GND Filters, handheld at a very slight angle to help darken the horizon on the left.




In Raw Converter (Nikon Capture NX2)

- Processed single raw file twice, once for the majority of the image, and another time at +0.3 ev to blend in to upper-right corner to remove some darkness there

- Global contrast for added pop

- Slightly darkened and added contrast to the sky to add oomph

- brightened and added contrast to darker rocks on left

- slightly darkened and added contrast to brighter rocks on right

- increased brightness, contrast, and saturation of foreground rock and turquoise water

- straightened horizon by 0.2°


In Photoshop:

- Noise reduction via Neat Image

- gradient blend of 2 tiffs to lighten upper right corner a little

- Selective sharpening of rocks and mountain ridge

- Curves layer to slightly brighten submerged rocks in foreground, mid-ground rocks, and upper right part of the sky

- Decided I didn't like the extra pinkness in the foreground rock so I used a hue/saturation layer to tone it down


Thanks for looking!



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Taken on January 15, 2011