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Mark Metternich - Sublime Lighting and Lightning in the SW  


First, thank you very much Erin for remembering me and inviting me to join your Masters Group here.  With all the absolutely amazing talent here I feel totally and completely honored. Thank you everyone here for being such a critical inspiration to my work even if I have never told you face to face (although I have told many of you). I look at the list here of photographers and everyone here has been a mega inspiration to me. In fact I have countless times brought up in my workshops or Skype lessons every name here!


I was asked to post an image and then give a little teaching - HOW IT WAS CREATED - so here is my most recent post to social media. Not sure if it will look good here in terms of color management and size, but here goes anyway.  


I have to say that Alex (Noriega) has been a huge influence on my work over the years. I remember someone once telling me (a long time ago) that he was shooting somewhere and there was a blazing sunset going on and he (Alex) did not appear to be shooting. When asked why, he said he usually does not even begin to shoot until twilight, and most other photographers have left, thinking the show is over because sunset is gone or it is too dark. Whether this is a legendary tale (about Alex) or not, I am not sure, but it has taught me A LOT  over the years, and I, in turn, teach these things to all my workshop clients.  I love and gravitate toward the surreal in landscape and find twilight often does the trick (like I am sure most of you).


Hopefully this is not TMI but: this was shot (actually 2 at different speeds) of about 1 minute with the Canon 11-24 on the Sony A7R2.  A very intimidating storm was rolling through and it had kicked up a dust storm earlier.  When taking the first 30 second shot I was noticing on my LCD the ORANGE in the sky and lightning even when clouds around it were neutral.  I thought it bizarre (the orange) and found that some of the lightning shots were lighting up most of the sky with color. So I switched to 1 minute to give the land enough light to expose for it, and shot many exposures back to back (the "Lightning Trigger" was not working right - too much 4 wheeling and banging around).


In post I simply brought it up in Camera Raw in my (somewhat radical) custom presets.  I did turn up the Red Primary and used the Sony Landscape picture style as my starting position.  With my moderately radical presets, it was all there but the sky was pretty noisy.  So I double processed two separate raw files (lots of L noise reduction in the sky for the sky portions) and no luminance noise reduction for the land (but a little raw/capture sharpening there).


After isolating the land in both images using the Quick Selection Tool I both contracted the selection down by 2 px and then feathered it by 1px to create a natural feather at the horizon line.


With a little sky stretching downward to clean up the horizon line, and my typical stretching skewing and double/triple/quadruple processing the skies to get the most of the lighting (that was there - I don't like to put in fake skies, but would rather work with reality) I was able to optimize the sky without getting too far from reality (I like to tell a general truth to my images but not necessarily literal)


I went back and forth between sky adjustments and land adjustments until I felt it looked its best.  I did do a very, very small Liquify "pucker" in the photo where the lines converge to give a greater sense of depth. I did it very slightly because as a print maker I know this softens areas and can cause very real problems in big enlargements.


Other than that, I did a custom crop, tons of clean up on specks and small distracting elements and a touch of custom orton / highlight glow (my own concoction) then blended it in using the Layer Style "blend if" blending sliders, and of course some adjusting of the layer opacity, and I slapped a mask on that layer and removed some of the effect from some of the areas (some in the sky and also where the lines converge.)


Graduated "Clarity" and "Dehaze" were slightly used in the closest foreground upward. Some of which was masked (painted) out at various opacities using a layer mask.


A couple years ago when Ryan Dyar and I co led a workshop together and we were teaching blending (I taught mostly the Layer Style "Blend If" blending) and he taught more L-masks, he asked me if both masks and “blend if” could be used at the same time on the same layer?  YES!  I do this quite often.


Maybe TMI, but I hope someone gets something out of it.


I look forward to learning from all of you.  Everyone here has a tremendous amount of expertise we all can learn from. Thank you for letting me learn from you.


All the best to everyone, and Great Light to you.



Southwest Sublime FM

Edited: 1 year  ago
Posted : September 18, 2017 11:56 Alex Wesche and Erin Babnik liked
Admin Admin

Hi Mark and thanks so much for contributing! Yes, it's true that you do bring up our names, and I really appreciate it. In addition to what I've seen you write about me personally online, I've also had workshop participants say that you recommended them to me and had a lot of supportive kind words for me. Huge, huge thanks for all of that! And thanks again for taking your time to give generously to the community of beginning landscape photographers who are reading this forum to learn more about this great art!

I travel frequently, but I will reply to posts as time and data signals allow!

Posted : September 18, 2017 14:10

Honestly, my pleasure.  Thank you Erin.

Posted : September 18, 2017 15:30

Thanks for sharing your craft Mark. Again as I told you elsewhere, one of my highlights of 2017 was meeting you. You are a big inspiration.

Posted : October 12, 2017 13:13

Thank you very much Rajesh!  All the best to you and your family.  All the best for 2018!  Great light to you! 

Posted : October 22, 2017 19:46

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