"That image, in particular, broke new ground for me," Adamus says. "It was an example of how you can use a lot of different techniques, like high ISO, to capture the aurora without it moving too much, and depth of field blending. I was shooting at about 30mm, and I was probably 12 inches from the closest icicle. I was shooting the background at ƒ/2.8 and the foreground at ƒ/5.6, and I merged together at least seven or eight images to get all those icicles in focus. And, thank goodness, the aurora didn't change too much, or at least the prevalence of that green light source, because I've lost a lot of good images that way. If you're trying to depth of field blend with the aurora, and if you've got a reflective surface like that ice, you have to accept that half the time you're going to get nothing. Because the light source is going to change, and the reflected light is going to change, and when that changes, you're not going to piece it together very believably."
While Adamus is content to use every tool at his disposal, not all of his photographs require postprocessing. Some come out of the camera complete.
"Sometimes, you can spend five minutes," Adamus says, "and it completely and totally alters the way the image looked in-camera. Other times, you spend 20 hours doing it and it still looks pretty similar. An image that I've processed practically none—it's pretty much just a straight RAW file, maybe 30 seconds of little touch-ups—is one of my most popular images, 'Crater Lake in Winter.' That was an image made in the days when I first moved to digital. I wasn't yet familiar with exposure blending, so I used a two-stop hard graduated filter over the top and the sky, and you can see the resulting darkness toward the top of the snow as a result. But the image required pretty much no attention in Photoshop to achieve the final product.
"One of my favorite little intimate scenes," he says, "is called 'A Moment Together.' It's just corn lilies surrounding mountain bluebells. Because it's just a small-scale intimate capture of a scene within very soft, easy-to-control lighting, and it didn't require any depth-of-field blending and it already had great color, it required very little processing—just a little dodging of the highlights on the leaves—but I would describe it as very little, and it's one of my absolute favorites."
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