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Monday, March 3, 2014

Contender Paul Weeks


Finding himself at the right place at the right time, 2014 American Landscape Contest Contender Paul Weeks took advantage of a unique moment

This Article Features Photo Zoom


Photographer: Paul Weeks

Location: Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, CA

When did you take this photograph? November 29th, 2013

Equipment: Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead, Really Right Stuff BD600-L L-Plate

The story behind the shot:
Recently I was able to get down to the California coast for a little road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Pfeiffer Beach was one of my favorites from the trip. From the moment my travel buddy and I arrived at the beach, there were photographers hovering around the "Keyhole" like a flock of vultures.

After the sun and the hysteria had set, we hung out a while longer and waited to see if the Milky Way would make an appearance. Venus was also out that night and it was unusually bright as she sailed across the sky. Suddenly I realized that she just might pass right through the hole in the rock. By the time I reached the spot, Venus had glided perfectly into the keyhole. Luckily I had just enough time to get this shot while also avoiding the waves.

Did you use any special techniques in-camera or in post-processing?
As far as the post processing that went into this shot, I began by making slight contrast and sharpness adjustments to the RAW image in Lightroom 4. The next step was to utilize a luminosity masking technique in Photoshop CS6 I learned from David Morrow's star photography tutorial, along with a standard dodge/burn layer to adjust tonality and exposure of the Milky Way and the big rock in the foreground. To dramatically reduce the amount of noise I used a great little program called Noiseware by Imagenomic. This is far and away the best noise removal software I've found.

Why is this scene of the American Landscape special to you?
This photo is special to me because of the timing and luck involved with capturing it. It's true that the more time you spend exploring and shooting new locations, the better your chances of finding incredible scenes like this one. That is what inspires me the most – knowing that something as beautiful and unique as this are just around every corner, waiting to be found.

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