There are very few places as iconic at Schwabacher's Landing. I would not be surprised if it is on the top 20 list for most landscape photographers. As such, one can argue that the location has been 'photographed to death.' However, I am going to suggest that there is a reason for this. It is just intensely beautiful to experience - and sadly, no photograph no matter how beautiful can actually capture its majesty.
Over the course of the last 25 years, I have been to this spot probably 20 times, and this is the one and only image i have ever taken that I feel stands up to some of the other amazing images I have seen here. I have gotten nothing far more often than I have gotten something. There is a real value to going to the same spot over and over again, hoping for the right light and color. 25 years sounds like a long time, and on a calendar it certainly is. However, when you think that I have been there perhaps 20 times, you realize that I have spent no time actually there.
This image was taken at the first pool, so it is actually the 'less desirable,' location so I am still going to have to go back to the second pool and knock that one off my list. I will include a photo form the second pool later in this article. Many people look at this image and say, "but that's not real." The answer is - yes, it is. One of the ways you can tell that the colors have not been overly cooked is to look at things like the greens. Plants absorb almost all the photons in the red and blue regions of the light spectrum and they absorb about 90% of the green photons. As a result, examining the greens is a great way to look to see if someone has played too much with the color slider. If you take a good look at the foreground, you will see patches of green mixed in with the rest of the image. While I certainly processed this image - you can see that this is an accurate representation of what I saw in nature.
This is the 'minimally processed' image that came from my RAW file.
When I look at this image, I see only one problem. The sky should always be brighter than the water. Our world naturally exists from dark to light. The higher we go into the sky, the brighter it gets. As my friend Steve is want to say, "Jimmy, you clubbed the sky with your neutral density filter again." As I am a firm believer that in order to make an image beautiful that I need to capture the nuance of the sky, I will often do this with the idea of brightening up the shadow areas later. As they say, 'get your midtones and highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.'
So how did I fix this? It is actually pretty simple. I burned the water a couple of stops so that it looked more natural. Here's the funny thing, and of course, that which makes this a visual ART. I prefer the brighter water. To me, it looks almost magical.
Fixed ImageSchwabacher's Landing - Grand Teton National Park. This was taken at the first pool.
This is one of those images that I will probably continue to tinker with over the coming years. One area that I believe I have room to move in is in regards to the sky and the highlights. I believe I have up to a stop of room to move there - but I am afraid that if I push it too far that the colors will radiate in a way that looks unnatural to me. Just because you CAN do something does not mean that you SHOULD do something.
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As I mentioned earlier, this is the 'lesser pool,' I hope to see this kind of light at the farther pool.
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