Mobius Arch

This was from several years ago – Canon 5D2, 1/4 sec, f/19, ISO 200. 16-35mm f/2.8 at 29mm. I didn’t center Whitney (it’s on the right) because someone had gotten there ahead of me. I had to clone out the edge of his lens in the UR. Somewhere I have another where I got there first but haven’t found it yet. A very cold morning with first light on the eastern slope of the Sierra.

This was an HDR over 3 stops, which brought out better tonal structure than any one exposure.

A classic look at an iconic spot. To my eye, the foreground rock is far too bright. I did a very quick and dirty masking in PS and darkened it a fair amount and it worked far better for me. The contrast between the rock and the far mountains both makes the scene more natural and gives it much more pop. It also brings out the bit of warm light in the arch rock.

Diane, I agree with Harley with regard to this being a very fine classic look from this location. Your comment about the other photographer being there is understandable for sure. The morning light on the sierra range is part of that “classic Look” as it were.
btw: the image I’d taken from here was at least 20 years ago I think. Although I’ve photographed this general area many times over these years I only shot Mobius Arch once. I did the scene much later in the day as I wanted to try something different with the arch shadow along the base making a somewhat loop.

Sounds like this is the California equivalent of Mesa Arch, get there early or get shut out.

I agree with @Harley_Goldman about darkening the foreground rocks to create more impact. If you darken the foreground, I think you could then try some “color dodging” through a mid-tones luminosity mask on the left side of the arch, to “create” some more light there. And add some vignetting. Here is a rework to illustrate my suggestions.

Thanks, @Harley_Goldman, @Paul_Breitkreuz and @Ed_McGuirk. I had darkened the immediate FG rock with a gradient – but the raw files show it to be very close in brightness to the leftmost section of the arch. But I do like Ed’s take on it and will modify my master file – thanks for the suggestion! He has also brought out more saturation on the arch – I was undecided how much I wanted it to “glow” in competition with the mountains. I felt pushing them further gave them an unnatural look.

This is a miniature Mesa Arch, but with less standing room. You’re on a big round egg-shaped rock maybe 10-12 ft wide and 6-7 ft fore-aft. I pointed out the guy who was already there, to my right, that the peak he was framing wasn’t Whitney, but he was happy with it. By the time the light came up enough for me to get the HDR frames, three more guys had showed up and I scrambled away to give them a shot while the light lasted.

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I’m wondering how this would look if you desaturated those distant mountains and slightly dodged them. The colors there seem a bit unnatural for morning light. Dodging those mountains may seem counterintuitive but it might work. I also lighted the sky a tad and added a small vignette to emphasize the hole but those adjustments are so small you can hardly notice them.

Interesting idea, @Igor_Doncov, but for me, they are fairly subdued in the OP. I resisted the impulse to go for more contrast/saturation. It’s hard to know how far to go with visual impact in scenes like this, except to try to convey my feeling at the time without overwhelming someone who wasn’t there. Other than freezing to death in the February predawn cold, my feeling was overwhelming – and this was definitely not the first time I’ve seen these mountain sunrises.

Think of it as a contrast between the earthly domain and the beyond. In the Christian metaphorical sense. Make the beyond celestial, a place peace and contentment.

A wonderful idea with more ordinary light, but I hate to waste that hard-earned alpenglow for philosophy!! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Actually my rework did not add saturation to the left side of the arch, instead it added color and luminosity. Adding saturation by definition darkens colors. I used “Color Dodging”, which is dodging using a TK dodge layer. But instead of using a white brush to dodge (the normal approach), I used a brush with a warm color selected from the arch. This both brightens and adds color, and creates the appearance that warm light is hitting the left side of the arch. The key is to do it at low opacity, to keep it relatively subtle.

What a beautiful view, Dianne. It may have been cold, but this image is very inviting with the alpenglow on the peaks in the BG. I really like the subtle tweaks made by @Ed_McGuirk as they have elevated a wonderful image another notch. This is certainly a fascinating arch.

Thanks for the clarification, @Ed_McGuirk – I see it now. I’ve been terribly remiss is not learning the TK panels. I need to fix that.

Love this composition, Diane, and what outstanding subject matter! I love that early morning light in the mountains also! Actually, I like your original presentation as far as the FG rock formation is concerned, but think the shadows on the mountains might could be darkened somewhat to appear a bit more realistic, and I might would consider increasing the saturation on the lit areas since they represent such a small portion of the overall image. I feel slightly increasing their saturation might help them balance the competition they face with the large FG rocks.



Thanks, @Bill_Chambers – the HDR came up with fairly subdued colors and contrast there and I tried to restrain myself in bringing it up, as I can easily go overboard on things like that, but I do love what you’ve done! My master file will be so modified!

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