Last weekend was Father’s Day, and we celebrated by going for a hike. Last year I went to Red Mountain Open Space, and this year we went to the adjacent Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, owned and maintained by the City of Fort Collins. It was cloudy with an occasional drizzle, but with no thunderclouds it helped keep the temperatures down rather than dissuade us. We hiked up the eastern portion of the Towhee Loop, before descending north and circling the hills on the Mahogany Loop. The trails were almost empty as we saw only two people during the entire afternoon. Bird life was more common, including the namesake Towhee on the Towhee Loop. As we rounded the hills, the thunder started. By the time the final stretch back to the car started, it was rumbling fiercely, although there was blue sky on the horizon. Also on the horizon, the peaks of the front range glittered with snowy white. When the trail passed in front of a large boulder I knew I had found my favorite image of the week.

Approaching Storm, Soapstone Prairie

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 18mm, f/8 at 1/220, ISO 200

Digital Darkroom. When I pressed the shutter, I knew why; this photo was about the shining whiteness of the peaks contrasting with the dark clouds overhead. Now I just had to fulfill that vision. I tried the image in color, but I found this distracted from the goal above, so I quickly switched to the ACROS black and white profile. For global adjustments, I increased contrast, highlights, and texture, and lowered shadows. This added some more drama and contrast to the image.

The next step was the storm clouds themselves. I used a graduated filter and added dehaze (+28) to increase their menace. (In the field, the booming thunder did the same thing).

Now for the band of peaks at the horizon. I used a brush to add exposure, contrast, highlights, and clarity, trying to make the peaks pop.

Finally, I went over the rock in the foreground, adding some texture and clarity to make up for the unfortunate soft focus. I also increased the exposure a tad, trying to use the brightness and angularity of the rock to draw your eye towards the horizon.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

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