I'm finally getting around to editing some of my recent desert images. This is one that I have been excited to process for weeks now.
The cracked patterns on the surface of the Alvord Desert are captivating. This enormous playa (dry lake bed) stretches East from Steens Mountain. My friends, Rick Lepage, Susan Witcraft, Peter Kinnan, Andy Adkins, Matt Kloskowski and I spent some fun days and nights camping and exploring this crazy landscape.
The patterns of the Alvord have always seemed mysterious and otherworldly to me. To capture this feeling I decided to create a vertical panoramic of the cracks with the milky way above. Thankfully we had a clear moonless night to work with...
To keep the foreground cracks in focus and clean of noise, I created my first image at dusk 2 stops underexposed using a lower ISO, middle aperture, and close focus. Once I had the image of the cracks that I wanted, I tilted my Sachtler head up until only the mountains were at the bottom edge of my frame, focused on infinity, covered my lens and left it waiting for the milky way to line up in my composition. Right before going to sleep I returned and captured the stars at ISO 1600 for 20 seconds at F4.
As usual I developed my RAW files using Adobe Lightroom and then applied the finishing touches to the sky and foreground in onOne's Perfect Effects 9. Using onOne's Perfect Layers 9 I composited the two images into one using the dark outline of Steens Mountain as a natural blending point.
I can't wait to print this big and get it up on the wall.