INTRO

Welcome to the next installment of my WALKTHROUGH | Series. Today I wanted to look at a new piece I've created - I call it Cold Steel.

Steelhead Falls, where this image was taken is a stunning and diverse area with a ton of photographic opportunity. During a rare cold snap I managed to make my way down through a risky trail of unstable ground to the base of this waterfall where I explored the ice fall.

Cold Steel

20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls

Per usual, we start with the final image. This is to provide an end goal to keep in mind, to give you your first impression and a place to reference as you go through the rest of these images. My intent with this image and the final goal I imagined while editing this shot was to create a sense of deep cold within the scene while maintaining the lush feeling this waterfall has in the summer months. To do this I wanted to create a deep blue in the ice, highlight the jagged edges and textures in the ice, and add a layer of atmosphere to create a dreamy feeling final shot.


Composition and Picking the RAW image

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  • Untitled photo
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I wanted to start this walkthrough with a look at the various composition options I took. Now, all of these images could have been used, and all have their strong points and weaknesses. So take a moment to look at them and try to decide which you like best. Keep in mind this is the RAW as well, so there are not adjustments or anything to the image data yet.

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Ultimately I decided to use the raw on the far left. This one stood out to me with the multiple triangular leading lines that bring the eye straight to the winding waterflow. In the other raws either these triangular shapes were broken (right image) or because of the height of the camera the image felt too flat (middle image). I wanted the dramatic feeling that a wide angle lens brings to the table.


Preparing the Base Image

  • 20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls
  • 20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls

To prepare the base image I first needed to get the white balance correct. The steps involved here were using the WB picker to select the ice, cooling it further, and then using a tiny color grade shift towards blue as well. Next was to blend the moving and none moving parts of the image - using an median blend on multiple images I created this more smooth looking water while maintaining the sharpness of the surroundings. With the base image prepared, were ready for the next steps.


Adding atmosphere

The next steps are intended to create atmosphere, depth, and give a glow to the image to help create the final impact of the image

20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls

In this step I spot healed various distractions within the image. Twigs, dirt specs, water droplets on the lens, and a variety of other small annoyances. For example, take a look at the previous base image and you'll see the twigs within the water are now gone.

20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls

In this step a technique called dodging and burning were used to subtle increase select contrast around the ice and various features within the scene. You'll notice it the most in the ice.

20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls

In this step I added atmosphere using a variety of clarity and exposure adjustments. Adding some addition haze helps bring out the mist and fog that the camera isn't able to capture as well. It will be most obvious in the mid-top of the frame

Final Image

I hope you've enjoyed this brief walkthrough of my edit! As always, if you have any comments, questions, or critiques please feel free to reach out and ask at anytime.

20220103 - Steelhead Falls Bottom of Falls
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