Alaska Revisited, Part 12

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Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…..

I get the feeling that this day cruise is going on forever, but here we are again for another revisit from my Alaska excursion from May of 2008.  So far, the previous eleven blog entries have been from a single day event on May 16th.  I’m sure that by now you are looking forward to another one from the boat.  Well, I’m sorry, but I am fresh out of images from that day.  I’ll fill you in on how the remainder of the cruise went though.  After leaving Resurrection Bay, we entered the Pacific Ocean and the winds had picked up.  The ride was very choppy and I wasn’t enjoying myself nearly as much as I had been in the previous hours.  In fact, I decided to go into the cabin with everyone else and sit with my ex-wife who had been there through most of the trip.  It was nice to get in the warm because I was pretty well frozen from being out on the deck through the majority of the day.  The last hour or so of the cruise I spent sitting down holding my camera and trying not to throw up.  I succeeded in my goal but it was sure nice to get back to Seward Harbor and where we were staying.  I don’t recall many of the details from that afternoon and evening, but I remember that the sun was still up at 11pm when I went to sleep.  I was planning on getting up early for sunrise the next day and woke up around 3am.  Much to my surprise, it was already bright and sunny outside.  I never did get used to the night lasting only a couple of hours.

Anyway, I tried to get my ex-wife to go out and explore a little bit, but she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to stay in the room.  That was fine by me, I was having more fun alone at this point anyway.  I grabbed my gear and went out to the harbor once again.  I was over my sea sickness from the day before and was feeling pretty good if not very sleepy.  My sunrise ideas were out the window early on for this day, but I did get one of my favorite images from this trip on this morning.  I’ll add it here, but not because I did a fresh edit on it.  Actually, there isn’t anything that I don’t like about this image so, I didn’t see any real reason to run it through Lightroom.  It was a simple image that really summed up the location that I was staying in.

Boat Launch“, Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L

This was what sunrise looked like at around 3:30 in the morning.  Yeah, there was warm light hitting the buildings, but you can tell that the sun was fully up at this point.  I played around with a lot of views on the morning of the 17th, and most of them have kind of dropped off the grid over the years.  They were all pretty similar since I was capturing isolations of the surrounding mountains in the light.  I had been working with my wider angle lenses, earlier in the morning, but when it came time to look at the distant mountains, I was forced to put my 70-200mm lens back on.  I’m learning that this lens got the most use during the time I was in Alaska which was odd.  Typically, my images (even then) were shot with the 24-70mm or the 17-40mm for the most part.  I think that the reason for that was I was overwhelmed with the landscape and needed to pick it apart for me to make sense of it.  Simplification was the key for so many of my images on this trip.

Under the Deep Blue“, Canon 40D, 70-200mm f/4L, B+W KMC Polarizer

This image here hasn’t been seen since probably 2011 when I let my first official website go.  I have never posted the original edit here, but it had some problems that I wasn’t too happy with.  The sky was very washed out and pale blue even though I was using a polarizer this time.  The pine trees at the base were also bunched up shadows with no real detail.  The original 3:2 crop gave too much negative space at the top of the image and allowed too much of the shadowed trees to enter at the bottom of the image.  I did like the overall composition though which was why it made it into my original batch of 90 keepers in 2008.

When going back through the RAW images, this one popped back up again, but I immediately saw it as the failed image that I was used to seeing because quite frankly, I didn’t do much to the RAW file to change it originally.  I passed it by and went to another one to edit.  Ultimately, I forgot about this image until I was about three entries into this series of blogs.  I was going back through looking for a specific image that I didn’t remember seeing that I wanted to work on again.  Sadly, that image was not to be found on either disk, or any of the other ones.  However, this image popped back up and I started to look at it again.  The composition was still perfect with a little cropping anyway.  I decided to take a break from writing blog entries since I was doing this entire series over the course of a couple of days just before closing on the new house.  I pulled this one into the develop module of Lightroom and started with some rough edits.

In no time at all, I decided that a black and white conversion wasn’t really working for this one.  There was a warm tone from the low sun that I really found appealing with the image and I didn’t want to lose that aspect of it.  I did want to darken the sky though because the washed out blue wasn’t helping this at all.  I also wanted to try and bring out some detail in the trees below.  What I found over the course of this edit was just how capable that 40D was when it came to exposure latitude.  I had never realized how much detail that old camera would capture.  I was able to pull not only the detail out of the trees, but there was color there as well.  The muted greens worked well with the blue sky to give a subtle cool tone to the slightly warm snow.  There are a lot of dichotomies in this image that would be lost with a black and white conversion.

The cropping made the biggest difference I think as it changed the visual weight of the trees at the bottom as there was just a slight trail off to the right.  in the original image that was much thicker and your eyes wanted to stay on the trees.  The sky also benefited from the crop as the peak of the mountain was now at the top of the frame leaving the curving nature of the other lesser hills in the correct upper third line.  There was so much depth here it was crazy, and some careful working of the shadows helped to bring that out as well.  Surprisingly, this 15 minute edit changed the entire nature of the image and allowed me to produce something that was exactly what I had seen at the time.

I’m really excited to have this image added to the gallery here for the first time ever.  I do hope that you enjoy it as much as I am right now.  It is like I’ve discovered an image that I didn’t even know I had.  The personality of it has changed so greatly after twelve years!

I’ll see you again very soon for another one, stay tuned.