Smith River, Callifornia, USA by Ron Kusina

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Picture Story

I was exploring the Smith River National Recreation Area in northern California, becoming familiar with this stretch of the river. The Smith contains three forks and is the longest National Wild and Scenic River in the U.S. Late winter through spring is the time when water is moving at its peak. While driving along the South Fork Road I found this waterfall cascading down toward the river, and was surprised by its height, and the variety of colors the rocks held.

I began working on a panorama, making multi-rows of vertical images with my 40mm lens. After returning to my car, I thought using the Super Wide 15mm might work better in creating a single image from a different camera position, one nearer to the subject, so I switched lenses and returned to make a few more photos. It was nearing sunset and the light was fading, so I quickly selected my camera position, standing practically in the water, set my tripod, and managed to make three more images. This one was the final capture.

I routinely expose my images for the highlights (ETTR), then make adjustments using Lightroom’s white point tone slider and the eye dropper tool to render the brightest area in the image as 99%+ white. Adjusting the white to that percentage in post processing is easy to accomplish, and allows for much more detail in shadows. The subject was in a location shaded by the evening light, making for smooth and even illumination. My raw image shows a primarily light grey sky, but I knew I could open more detail in the sky during post processing, producing my desired result.

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