One of the problems with working in an analytical art is that we are forced to deal with the real-time element and the actual lighting of the space we are in at the moment. Merely making an accurate reproduction of the subject seldom reflects what we perceive about it. While a large part of expression comes from the content, a greater portion of its overall impact results from how we enhance the image, how we make an image more about the way we see its subject.
The image, Catwalk, New Mexico 2006, was captured in Raw format on a Canon 5D with a 35–350mm L lens on a tripod. I captured it with as much data as my sensor can record: the ISO was set to 100 and the f-stop to ƒ/22. Exposure was 1⁄4 second. The file size was 12.17 MB.
The image was recorded in a canyon with sufficient ambient light to give me enough exposure, but not enough contrast to yield an expressive print. Bringing the Raw file into Adobe Camera Raw (Figure 1) from Photoshop CS 3.0 beta, I first increased the overall exposure to 1.55 (Figure 2). With the long exposure of the flowing water, I also used the Recovery slider at a setting of 12 to hold the white highlight at the bottom of the falls. I opened the Fill Light slider to 35 to generally open the shadow areas, and increased the Vibrancy slider to bring out the gold at the top of the falls.