Snapshot: Sandstone Lightning

January 25th, 2011 by Bret Edge

Continuing my love affair with my wonderful Canon S95 camera, I toted it with me to Goblin Valley State Park for a photo assignment I’d managed to win from Utah State Parks & Recreation.  Not only did they ask for scenes from Goblin Valley, which is an absolutely awesome little park, but they also wanted photographs of the surrounding area.  So, I did what I do best – I wandered.  At a point in my roaming I observed this interesting feature in the sandstone.  I grabbed my trusty S95 and hiked a short distance to it for a closer look.

I have absolutely no idea what causes this lightning like pattern in the sandstone.  I suspect it to be caused by water cascading down the rock, creating a sort of reverse desert varnish.  Regardless, I immediately envisioned it as a high contrast black and white abstract image and went to work composing a photograph on the S95’s LCD screen.  Back home I converted the color image to monochrome in Photoshop CS5 using Nik Silver Efex Pro.  I then used several curves and levels layers to make the “lightning” pop, as well as Nik Color Efex Pro and Viveza 2 for some finishing touches.  Lastly, I used a little black magic in the form of Photoshop’s “Content Aware Fill” to remove some distracting blemishes from the rock.

Whatcha think?  If you know what causes this pattern I’d really appreciate an explanation, too!

Learn more about Bret, view his images, scout his workshops and read his blog here.

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