Snowbowl On the Cusp of Winter

Tonight I went back to processing photos from the Snowbowl near Flagstaff.  If you’ve been keeping up here, we visited the Snowbowl last Saturday, right after they had received their first snow of the season.  On our drive up the mountain we stopped several times to photograph the beautiful aspens that still had most of their golden leaves.  Although the skies were mostly cloudy, occasionally the sun would peak through, and that’s when I would shoot like mad trying to get as many exposures as possible before the next cloud covered the sun.

I was doing almost all my shots in bracketed series of three (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) .  This first shot is an HDR image produced from one of those series.  I used Photomatix V4 to merge the images.  Fortunately, this must have been one of those moments when the breeze stopped blowing for a few seconds, because I couldn’t find a lot of evidence of ghosting.  I then applied a slight contrast adjustment in Topaz Adjust (I’m trying out the trial version), and then did some final adjustments using Curves and Sharpening tools in Paintshop Pro X3:

This next image is also an HDR of one of the ancillary ski lifts at the Snowbowl Ski Resort.  The main lift (not pictured), which is a little further up the mountain, was running that day, carrying visitors to the top of the mountain just for the viewing experience, which was probably minimal because of the heavy cloud cover.  The snowfall from the previous night had reached down to 9,200′ which was right about  where that main lift started, but it didn’t get down quite as far as this smaller lift.  You can just get a glimpse of snow in the background, and you can see how heavy the cloud cover was.  There’s a lot of mountain hidden in those clouds!  I loved the massiveness of this huge weight on the lift machinery.  The dark, black metal of the lift is accentuated by the heavy gray clouds, but one can just imagine that in a few weeks the entire scene will be softened by a white covering of snow:

I used the same general process on this shot as the first one–Photomatix, Topaz Adjust, Topaz DeNoise and Paintshop Pro.  There is still more noise in the clouds than I would like, but when I tried to remove it I was losing detail in the shadows of the machinery.  Guess I need to play around with that tool a lot more to learn its nuances.

It was almost 90° here in the Phoenix area today.  It really made me wish I was back up in Flagstaff where we were last weekend.  It’s so hard to remember that it’s almost November when it’s so hot outside.  Much more fun to drive north and play in the snow!