Why It’s Called The Black Canyon


No explanation necessary… the picture tells the story of how the canyon got its name! On this evening a nice cloud pattern was forming so I decided to go down to the Sunset Point pull-off and try my luck. I do think canyons can be very tricky to photograph. The lighting often has a high dynamic range, very dark at the bottom and very bright at the top and in the sky. In some situations our cameras just can’t capture the complete range of light that our are eyes are able to see and this is one of those situations! I first tried HDR software but even with my natural-looking technique, I was not satisfied. I decided to go to plan B and combine the bracketed shots manually, using layers and masks and several blending steps. For the finishing touches I used luminosity masks to select specific tonal areas for adjustment. I hope you have a good resolution monitor to see that I was able to create a natural-looking image, with color in the sky and detail in the very ‘Black Canyon’.

'After Sunset, Black Canyon'  © Denise Bush

‘After Sunset, Black Canyon’ © Denise Bush

33 Responses to “Why It’s Called The Black Canyon”

  1. 1 Deb

    Awesome job Denise!

    • Thanks Deb. It was well after sunset, getting dark and tough one to process. I really needed the 3 exposures to get what I saw. I will take you there when you come!

  2. Excellent!

  3. 5 Charles Carstensen

    The sunset color is perfect. We go up there a lot.

  4. Very pleasing – the contrast from light to dark is very complimentary.

  5. Excellent post edit … You created what you saw – SPLENDID!

  6. Stunning!

  7. Very interesting! These are great picture. Thanks for sharing.

  8. 15 Amy

    Excellent job! Impressive!!

  9. Well done, Denise. The canyon looks very natural in your image and I love the color and pattern in the sky.

  10. You’ve done well here Denise. Your blending well preserved the layering in a natural way giving the appropriate sense of depth. Good job!

  11. I’ve given up on HDR too and have been following the technique you are outlining in very high dynamic range scenes. Your results is much better than HDR because you have captured the elegant, natural shadow details along with that beautiful bright sky. I imagine you were challenging yourself by photographing something called the Black Canyon with backlighting.

    • I haven’t completely given up on HDR Efex since it still works for me for ‘some’ images. My goal is to always create a natural-looking image and I do turn to manually blending bracketed shots more and more. I knew the processing would be a challenge when I shot this and think I came very close to what I saw that night. Thanks very much for your comment! (PS — When are you and Viv coming out?)

  12. Wow shot from you and mother nature. I think I see a fisherman on the bank!

    • Brent and I hiked down to the bottom by way of a random rock shoot on a trip after college graduation. This is one of the places I will take you. Here’s some info: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River is one of Colorado’s—and indeed the West’s—most awe-inspiring places. A vivid testament to the powers of erosion, the canyon is roughly 2,000 feet deep. At its narrowest point, it spans 1,000 feet at the rim and only 40 feet at the bottom.

  13. Beautiful evening! Your blending work is exceptional!

  14. Gorgeous!

  15. Love this! Stunning photo.

  16. Ohh, wow, you did great in pp, love the natural feel you gave it without overdoing the dynamics!

    • Thanks so much Ron… I am happy you can appreciate my control here. I could have brought out even more detail but that would not be how it looked. It was well past sunset and very dark… I wanted to keep it real!

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