Badlands: Yellow Mounds

One advantage of cloudy days is that colors are more saturated. The cloud cover let the reds, yellows and greens in the Yellow Mounds area of the Badlands show up very well. Both the red and yellow colors are paleosoils, created under different environmental conditions. They are seen mostly in this one small area of the National Park, but can also be found scattered around the area south of the Park.

5D3, 24-105 F4 IS II @ 35mm, 1/40s, f/16, iso 200, tripod and polarizer (which added modestly to the colors even under the heavy clouds)

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

That’s some dramatic color, and the flow of the diagonal across the scene is nice. I’m assuming it wasn’t possible to get closer to the edge to get the full diagonal of the erosion?

I wouldn’t be afraid to kick the contrast in the sky up a bit, and the yellows in the grass in the left half of the image look a bit strong.

hi @Mark_Seaver!
that’s some beautiful badlands you captured here!

i agree with @John_Williams about the sky. other than that my main concern would be colour separation. the yellows are to green and the greens are too yellow imho. a few points of magenta white balance should help if you don’t want to play with indiviual colour sliders.

here’s a quick re-edit to illustrate my thoughts:


Lovely image. I agree with the addition of contrast to the sky.


Another great thing about overcast conditions like this… one can shoot all day! And as you mention, colors are rich and beautiful. You’ve rendered this scene beautifully.

My first thought before reading any comments as also about the sky - but not to add contrast or how to process it - but my thought was to remove it! I see this image about the colors, the nature story of the geology, shapes, forms, etc. For me anyway, the sky keeps this as more of a standard landscape composition - where as cropping the sky is extracting more from the broader view; more abstract and creative - maybe? Still, as presented, very well done and beautifully captured.


Fascinating. Pretty nice frame of all this, Mark. I’ve seen lots of the drab areas in southern Utah, but none like this. Almost looks like the valley got flooded by liquified mustard :sunglasses:

Thanks folks. I’ve tried the suggestions from @John_Williams and @Joerg_Bonner. More contrast in the clouds looks very good. Testing Joerg’s color tweak by adding a few points of magenta to the tint slider works surprisingly well at separating the yellow and green tones. That type of raw processing tweak is new for me and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to “see” when to try it… @Lon_Overacker , I have a several other shots where I deliberately excluded the sky. I’ll probably post one of those in a day or two. This is all very heavy clay, so after it rained a bit overnight, when I stepped out on a ridge for a better angle, two steps of each foot had me walking on a 1" high platform of mud! I didn’t like that and also didn’t want to leave footprints that would be there for the next year, inviting others to do the same.

This is very much about colour, Mark - warm and cool, delicately shaded yet having a powerful effect on the eye. And geologically speaking, a very interesting image - thanks for the information attached.