My annual trip with Thom was awesome, and we saw some really amazing scenery while we were hiking and backpacking. While I’m sure the photos he took during the trip are much better than mine, I’d like to think I’m getting better at picking out some nice angles and capturing good shots.

Interestingly, it’s the post-processing that can really make a photo come to life. Take, for example, this shot of South Window in Arches National Park:

Not bad, but for one reason or another the camera doesn’t capture the deep rust color in the rocks, nor the full azure of the sky. I’m still learning how to use full-manual mode on the camera to set the ideal aperture and shutter speed, so although I’m getting better I feel like a lot of my shots are washed out a bit.

So I pull the image into GIMP and make some adjustments: shift the levels to get a better contrast between light and dark, adjust the color balance of the rocks, and remove the noise from the sky. The result looks much more like reality:

Of course it’s easy to go too far and overcompensate, which leads to pictures where the rocks look unnaturally red or the sky is a creepy blue. I’ve seen that here and there on Flickr and elsewhere, so I’m careful not to overdo it.

Too bad it takes so long to adjust each of these photos. I have hundreds, and would love to really play with them…