Hiking the Dolomite Badlands

By Monday, March 3, 2014grafphoto

Well, it seems like February went by in a blink of an eye, and yet old man winter keeps poking us with a stick around here. I have really meant to try to post a bit more this year, seems I haven’t started off very well with that. Quite frankly, this tough winter has sucked the energy out of me a bit, creatively, and motivationally.

Rolling Hills Dolomite

Dolomite Badlands | Nikon D800, 200mm f/4, cross-polarized lighting | RO-9849

I finally got around to photographing a great piece of stone my wife gave me for my birthday back in January. I don’t know how she found this piece, but boy she has a great eye for knowing what I’d like. In many slabs, I am hunting for the good parts of a larger piece that catch my eye. In this case, it was the whole darn thing that was cool, measuring in at about 3 inches (75 mm) in height. It reminded me of the time as a kid when my family took a trip out west with a long stop in South Dakota’s Badlands area.    It is a place I have wanted to return to for quite a long time, especially since taking up photography a bit more seriously than when I was 12.  Although this piece of rock isn’t from South Dakota – the landscape within certainly has some visual reminders of that place.

This piece ended up being a bit of a challenge also in post processing to get it to look like the original.   I first ran into the issue of saw marks.   This happens quite a bit with unpolished slabs where you can see the grooves of the saw that made the slice.   They are quite hard to get rid of in post processing if they are significant.   One little trick I have found that works in helping mask them is to coat the slab in Vitamin E skin oil instead of water.

Then the colors under the flash lighting just seemed to go way out of wack.   The tans ended up too light, the reds too red instead of brownish red.  It took quite a few layers of addressing each individual issue to finally arrive at this state.    In the end, it was a bit of a hike through sample prep, setup, Lightroom and Photoshop to arrive at the destination.   It prompted me to go back to my old photo album and pull this image I took when I was 12, hiking the Badlands for the first time.

Badlands photo Mark Graf

Badlands, South Dakota, c.1980, age 12 – No Instagram filters back then folks!!  Just natural fading of cheap 110 cartridge film, rephotographed with my iPhone.


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