12_02_15 Featured Arkansas Landscape Photography–Autumn afterglow at Sam’s Throne
Taken with a Canon 1ds MKII (16MP), multishot bracket for exposure, Canon 24-70 @ 24mm F 11 iso 200
This an example where it pays to work with older files, in this case, way back 2004, with more modern software. I have taken a lot of sunsets at Sam’s Throne, however this is still one of my all time favorites. When I purchased my Canon 1ds MKII, which had 16MP, I started retracing many of trips to places I loved to go as I felt that 16MP would be about the maximum in resolution for a long time to come. We all know that changed pretty quickly. However on this evening, I found the best shot was after the sun set as it painted a wonderful afterglow in the sky. Sam’s Throne was just starting to change for fall but there was plenty of color around. To make the shot perfect, the couple of clouds that rolled into the frame helped to breakup the solid sky.
Sam’s Throne is one of premier climbing spots in Arkansas but it’s also one of the best for photography. You have a huge bluff line that runs at least 1/2 mile or longer and allows for wonderful views of the Big Creek valley. In this view you can see the Throne itself and all the rolling hilss that work their way off into the distance. The forest here is a good mix of both pine and deciduous trees, mainly Oak, and Gum but there are also some nice Maples scattered though the valley. One of the best aspects of Sam’s Throne is the fact that you can drive very close to the bluffline and you only have about a 1/8 of a mile walk to get started. Sam’s Throne is a great place to camp also as there is now a primitive campground with about 10 sites.
As this series of shots was taken with an older Canon Digital camera, the noise in the shadows was excessive. The 1ds MKII was not noted for extreme dynamic range. Back in the day, I shot almost everything in brackets knowing I would need multiple shots to get the exposure coverage I needed without excessive noise even at base iso or one step up. I had worked this image many times with various HDR software toolsets, but never really received the output I was looking for. Now that Adobe Lightroom has an excellent HDR tool, I decided to go back and try this shot again. The result was impressive and I found a much better overall image. The big advantage to HDR in LR is that Lightroom leaves that output as an .dng, in essence a raw file. This means you have all the flexibility of a raw file but with the added exposure blend, and you can still use the excellent Lightroom Toolset. I have started going back to a lot of my early Canon photography and working it back in LR and the results have been impressive.