Cloud Catcher

I captured this image in early December. When I arrived at about 45 minutes before sunrise the mountains were completely socked in. Well it went from completely socked in to nearly cloudless in about 30 minutes, and then like almost on queue the clouds started to roll in again over the mountains. Sometimes you get lucky…

This has not been the easiest file to process and have been tinkering with it for over a month. Appreciate any comments/suggestions. Thanks, Dave


Beautiful scene and processing looks darn good to my eye. The reds are almost a little much, but only almost to my eye. Excellent.

Wow, Dave, what a scene. Love it a bunch. If there is something that could improve it, I sure don’t know what it would be. :+1: :+1:

Sweet looking scene, Dave. It looks like it would be hard to process, but I think you did a great job with it. My only suggestion would be to get a little detail; if you have it; in the small patch of snow on the bottom left of that main cloud. I think the layering here is just fantastic as is the warm light kissing the flank of the mountain. The clouds also add some nice drama to the scene.

I think this is gorgeous, Dave. I tend to agree with Harley about the red, maybe just dial it back by or two points would make it really nice.

Just curious, what were the challenges when you process this?

Really wonderful, love the colors and contrast of the dark foreground layer. I might also back off just a tiny bit on the reds, but it is gorgeous as is.

What spectacular conditions Dave, I’m glad the photo gods decided to send the clouds back in at the last moment. It must have been awesome to experience this in person. The composition is very strong, with just the right balance of sky, mountain and foreground.

You said in one of your earlier posts that you don’t use luminosity masks for exposure blending of brackets. Is it fair to assume that this image is a single exposure? If that is the case, my hat is off to you because your processing looks about as good as a single exposure could get. My only suggestion would relate to the foreground. I would try to lift the black point slightly, and gently dodge the lighter tones slightly to sculpt the light in the foreground a bit.

Dave, the lighting on the foreground and the mountain is outstanding. Love those low hanging clouds around the peaks. If you’re not in the right place, the right time never happens! What catches my eyes are the darkness of the clouds high in the sky, although that may be real under these lighting conditions.

@Harley_Goldman, @Shirley_Freeman, @Ed_Lowe, @Kathy_Barnhart, @Mark_Seaver, @Adhika_Lie, @Ed_McGuirk, thanks much for the comments/suggestions.

Just trying to get the contrast and colors to my liking. I seem to struggle with certain images.

Thanks, Ed. Yeah, a single exposure. On a high contrast image like this, I find the best file will have the histogram as far to the right as possible without clipping the highlights. The raw in this case looks totally washed out. Not the first file your drawn to…

This is excellent Dave. I’m not a grand landscape kind of a guy but this is exceptional. The PP work really paid off because the colors and tones are right on. The colors are strong but in a tasteful way without going over the top. I can’t think of any suggestions. You could elongate the format to emphasize those horizontal layers but the layers are all the right width. Very nice work.

Looks like you had some great conditions Dave. Superb color and detail. The clouds rolling back in are icing on the cake.

@Igor_Doncov, @Eva_McDermott, Thanks for your comments. Appreciated.


What a glorious scene. The Sierra never looked so grand. I think you did a great job, especially in the central part of the image where the crest is enshrouded in snow and clouds - oh, the morning light on the foothills ain’t too bad either… :grin:

Everything from here on out is all personal choice. I can see how this might be a bit difficult to process. Would agree with some others about the rocky foreground - understand it’s still in shadow… so could be appropriate. I think the contrast is a smidge heavy, but sure is making for a dynamic scene. Just a downright beautiful and captivating scene.


Man, that really sings Dave. Beautiful.

Beautiful! The different colors of clouds and the varied light on them really lift the whole scene. So nice they cooperated! :wink: I also find the reds just a tad too much and maybe the brightness of the brightest highlights. But I read this is a single exposure without using lum masks, so I would never get it here in the first place, haha :wink:

This place is one of my favorite places, ever, and one of my all-time favorite mountains.

This is a gorgeous image; wonderfully composed and processed. If I was to make any change it would be to dial back the red light on the lower slopes just a bit. The contrast looks great to me eye.

Well done, sir!

The image is beautifully created and processed as is. I tinkered by cropping just a little off the sky to emphasize the foreground more and opened the foreground shadows just a touch. No nits from me though. Marvelous image; I’m sure it was an awe inspiring sight being there.