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Gorgeous Nature backed up by incredible work, composition, lighting and vibe! Great work!

Palouse Falls Dawn



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Awards

Runner Up in The Outdoors Photo Contest Speed Series
Contest Finalist in Monthly Pro Photo Contest Vol 47
Contest Finalist in Monthly Pro Photo Contest Vol 45
Peer Award
Absolute Masterpiece
+25
Superb Composition
+18
Top Choice
+16
Magnificent Capture
+8
Virtuoso
Outstanding Creativity
Superior Skill
All Star

Emotions

Impressed
+6

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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was captured at Palouse Falls State Park, eastern Washington state, looking upstream at Palouse Falls.
Time
This was taken about 20 minutes before dawn. I had scouted a couple locations for dawn photographs the previous afternoon. However, when I went to these locations about 45 minutes before dawn, I realized that the views provided poor compositions in relation to the clouds, Palouse River canyon, and lighting. I scrambled up a path along the rim of the canyon, found this viewpoint, and quickly set up my camera and tripod. I didn't have much time to capture images before the golden lighting changed and the rising sun washed out much of the clouds.
Lighting
The light was quite golden, even for a sunrise. I was surprised how golden the ground was as I took various exposures of the ground and sky. The light was also extremely contrasting. The canyon was much darker than the sky. So I manually bracketed a wide range of exposures, exposing for the highlights in the sky and separately in the waterfall. I also used a narrow aperture to get maximum depth of field. I used f20, 5 seconds (to blur the falling water), ISO 100 for the ground, and f20, 1/2 second, ISO 100 for the sky. The two images were taken seconds apart.
Equipment
I used a Pentax K-1, Samyang 14 mm lens, Slik tripod.
Inspiration
I was on a cross-country photo trip, and returned to Palouse Falls State Park to capture better images of Palouse Falls than I had obtained before. Palouse Falls State Park is a beautiful location with a towering waterfall set in a large, natural amphitheater that empties into a deep river canyon downstream. In a previous cross-country trip to the park, I had focused more on photographing the impressive falls themselves and not on the larger context of the amphitheater and river canyon. When I returned with a wide angle lens, I shot the falls and amphitheater under the moon and stars at night. Then I woke up early to capture the falls in the context of the surrounding amphitheater. Little did I know when I woke that I quickly would abandon that idea and instead capture the falls looking upstream from the canyon.
Editing
I processed the two images of the ground and sky separately, then blended them at the horizon line, and finished processing the blended image. I have not been satisfied with HDR processing, so when confronted with high-contrast scenes, I sometimes bracket a wide range of exposures manually and then blend images.
In my camera bag
I don't have much equipment. I have a Pentax K-1, Pentax 28-105 lens, Pentax 150-450 lens, 14 mm Samyang (partly for astrophotography), Slik tripod, and two ND filters (mostly for shooting waterfalls). I focus on trying to learn how to use the equipment I have to make better photos, rather than on buying more equipment to make better photos.
Feedback
My advice for landscape photography is do your research beforehand, scout locations if possible, and be nimble on your feet. Before I went to Palouse Falls State Park the first time, I had researched the park, topo maps, other photographers' images, and sunrise/sunset times and locations on line. For this image, I had the advantage of having visited the park before. Nevertheless, I arrived well before sunset so I could scout possible vantage points for sunset, night and dawn photos. When I realized that dawn locations I had scouted wouldn't work, I literally ran to a different vantage point I hadn't scouted the day before to capture this image.

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