Friday, March 22, 2013

Contender Bill Sharpsteen

While each of American Landscape contest Contender Bill Sharpsteen’s submissions stand on their own, together they show the diversity of the American Landscape

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Photographer: Bill Sharpsteen

Garrapata State Park

Location: Garrapata State Park, CA

When did you take the photograph? July 2009

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens, Gitzo tripod

Describe how you got this photo.
To get a long exposure to blur the water, I chose an ISO of 100 and aperture of f/16, which gave me a 15-second exposure. I used the live view (to lock up the mirror) with a cable release to keep the camera body as still as possible.

Once I uploaded the picture in Lightroom, I made some overall adjustments, bringing down the highlights, opening the shadows and some minor sharpening. In Photoshop, I added contrast and sharpening to the foreground rocks. And then with Nik Color Efex Pro 4, I used four filters set with a light touch—tonal contrast, detail extractor, brilliance/ warmth, vignette—to finish it off.

Why is this scene of American Landscape special to you?
For me, what's special about this shot is that I've always been fascinated with the way photography extends our vision. In one way, the picture shows how it felt to stand enjoying the scene, but it also takes the viewer over a longer period of time than the usual photograph. We see the blurred water suggesting the brief, ethereal moment when the sun rises in the morning and that moment is so much more special in a place like this. Additionally, I've been to Garrapata many times, and if there's one thing I can depend on, I'll never get the same pictures that I did in previous trips. The potential there for wonderful images seems endless. Sometimes, the weather dictates how I will shoot and the kinds of images I'll get, and other times, it will be just my particular mood that leads me to see things in ways I didn't before. It's a magical place.

Matanuska River, Alaska

Location: Matanuska River, Alaska

When did you take the photograph? 1998

Bronica SQ-A, 50mm lens, Kodak Ektachrome 100SW film, Gitzo tripod

Describe how you got this photo.
Several years before this, I had been in the state on another assignment and got a completely unsatisfactory shot of this scene and I waited some six years to return to get it right. I was driving up the Glenn Highway through the Chugach Mountains early in the morning when I came to a small park on a bluff overlooking the river. I found a short trail that took me to an overlook. It was about 5 a.m. and the light was perfect.

Did you use any special techniques?
Just recently, I scanned in the frame on a Nikon 9000 to see if I could improve on a scan I did years ago. In Photoshop I worked on bringing out the shadows for a little more detail and bringing down the sky and snow highlights. I also pumped the picture through Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using tonal contrast, detail extractor, brilliance/warmth, vignette to finish the picture. Lastly, I used Nik Sharpener Pro 3 to make the details just a little crisper.

Why is this scene of the American Landscape special to you?
The shot is special to me because I used to live in Alaska working as a journalist and I had a tradition of driving through the night on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when even at midnight, there was an incredible glow to the sky. This shot brings back the best of those trips. I can't wait to do it again with my digital gear!


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