Heather, Mike, Bob, and I hiked a little over seven miles starting from the Wagner Trailhead. Heather frequently hikes in the Cave Creek area. She’s hiked in McDowell Mountain Park in the past, but I think this is the first time she’s hiked with us.
I wasn’t sure I liked this sunrise photo (below) enough to work on it, but I decided to process it anyway for the practice. It was made from two separate exposures, one taken at -2EV, which I used for the sun and sky. The other exposure was taken at +2EV and had my finger extending from the top of the photo down to the horizon in order to cover up the sun. Blocking the sun prevents lens flare which generally degrades the darker areas of the image. (Images with such flare are often inferior even well away from the obvious flare spots.) I used to try to fix the flare spots, but have found that the results are vastly better by preventing the flare from happening in the first place.
After working on the image for a while, I noticed a colored banding in the sky. I corrected this by blurring the A and B channels in LAB mode (masking the color-blurred layer to just the sky) in order to eliminate colored banding from the sun.
I also made some late color moves involving the sky to avoid the muddy brown color surrounding the sun – I decreased the largish positive value for B, which made the area around the sun somewhat more orange (than the muddy brown color).
I added some flare effects back using Topaz Star Effects and then made the sky a bit more interesting using Topaz Impression. The Topaz Impression effects were used at a very low opacity and were masked away entirely from the lower portion of the image.
It’s not a bad result (if I do say so myself) from what started out as a fairly boring image.
The boulders in this photo were our first obstacle while hiking up Bluff Wash. The move at the bottom seemed easier this time; we all made it without much difficulty.
A view from Bluff Wash:
We hiked Bluff Wash to the Pemberton Trail and via the Bluff Trail (which, in places, is only a hundred yards or so from Bluff Wash). This is a view from the Bluff Trail.