It was night. Obviously… But it was more than that. There were a few stars, but more than that, there was this orange glow hitting the sky from the city as we camped in the hills, enjoying the warm weather and the desert views.
Just above camp there were these neat looking Sugaro’s that seemed to be watching us from the horizon. We came home late one night and frankly, I just wanted to go to bed. But I kept looking up at the stoic cactus, filled up with character and history.
I broke down. I had to. I pulled out the gear thinking I would just do it quick. But in truth I spent at least the next hour setting up, planning and exposing. The final result after some detailed artwork was Midnight Orange Sugaro. It’s a bit more painterly and textured than many of my pieces. But there’s something about it’s color and the subtle details that keeps me coming back.
For Photographers. How it was made…
Canon MK2, 70-200L @200mm f14, 414sec, ISO320
I started by doing a 57 second flashlight lit exposure and a 414 second time exposure. I did a general process in in LR, starting with presets and the working to bring out the orange in the sky.
I took the two exposures into PS and did a gentle HDR layer blend, bringing it some detail from the flashlight lit image and combining it with the other exposure. It took some extra time around the edges of the Sugaro to make sure I kept away halos from the blended exposure, but I spent that time blending because wanted to showcase a little of the natural texture in the cactus and foreground. Something I often favor over a straight up silhouette. Most the foreground area falls in very dark at around Zone 1 -to Zone 2 and here’s little that it totally black. In a finished print that can really be showcased.
To finish I used the Lincoln and Natures Pavement textures from the Naked Elements collection. I deliberated about this, considering how I might print and what the intent of my scene was. But while the sky was naturally orange it needed something extra. I don’t often use textures in a clearly visible fashion, but this is an exception. I’ll likely be releasing this on a fiber rag paper and or canvas so the texture detail blended carefully with the sky and other elements will add to the feel of this nighttime image.