The Flag, the Tree and the Snow

I’m working through the shots that I took on Sunday afternoon in Prescott after the big New Year’s snowstorm.  There was still a lot of snow around on Sunday, but there wasn’t much sun, so the shots that I took were mostly dull and flat.  Thank goodness for the digital darkroom and the power of software!

I’m finding that there are all kinds of possibilities for working with such high-contrast subjects as snow, an overcast sky, and the darker objects in the foreground.  Here’s a shot that I especially like.  This is the flagpole in front of the Yavapai County courthouse in downtown Prescott.  By aiming my camera up at the flag, I caught the dark, snow-covered branches of the trees, with the overcast sky in the background.  The shot was kind of dull out of the camera, but by boosting the contrast and doing some edge enhancement, it improved quite dramatically (click to view large on black).  It almost looks like a black and white photo with some color-popping applied, but it’s not:

Flag Trees and Snow

While the photo above was processed from a single image, I’m also getting some good HDR results, even though my shots were hand-held and I was shivering from the cold (thanks, Photomatix V4, for your great image alignment functionality!). Here’s a shot of one of the municipal buildings across from the courthouse, with a beautiful snow-covered spruce tree giving it a fairy-tale appearance. After combining three bracketed images to create the HDR image, I then used the Vibrance preset in Topaz Adjust to bring out the colors that had been washed out by the overcast skies. A little bit of Topaz DeNoise, and a little tweaking of the Curves in Paintshop Pro X3 yielded this result:

Snow Icing

More snow shots to follow, so stay tuned!

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