Palo Duro Canyon Panorama-2

Palo Duro Vista 1

Click on panoramic image to see details!

Click on panoramic image to see details!

Palo Duro Canyon is a great place to study the colors of nature. The canyon’s formations are composed of rocks of varying color, from white to yellow to deeper reds and violets. The skies can range from a clear, deep blue to the fiery red of sunset to the hazy reddish-brown of the (not as rare as we might like) dust storms. The sun’s play can also alter the landscape’s color, changing the mood of the scenery depending on the lack or presence of clouds and where in the sky the sun is located.

If you’ve been following this blog closely, you might remember that I posted a panoramic view of Palo Duro Canyon taken a few months ago. We had arrived at the vista point just as the sun had set, so the coloring was a little cooler and there were no shadows. The lack of clouds made for a fairly drab sunset, but there was still enough ambient light to bring out the deep hues of the canyon walls.

We returned there this past week and arrived at the same vista point shortly before sunset. The first image was taken when the sun was partially occluded by clouds; therefore, the shadows are fairly thin and—similar to the view from the earlier post—the coloration on the rocks is cooler.

The photos used to create the full panorama were taken just a few moments earlier, while the sun was shining between passages of the cirrus clouds. Here you can see the warmer colors of the low sun, along with the deeper shadows. The “golden hour” at its best—the low sun evoking the deepest, warm reds and oranges from the iron-rich rocks of the canyon.

In addition to the difference in color and mood between the two sets of images, you might also notice that the vegetation is sparser in these recent photos: the difference between late summer and winter! In only three months the canyon transformed from a place teeming with bugs and under cover of thick leaves to a dormant land where most life (except for a single coyote we saw in the park) was conspicuously silent.

A brief note about processing: I did most of the editing of these two images in Lightroom. It is amazing how much more quickly I can achieve what I’m after. I no longer have to combine different layers to get details in both shadows and highlights. I did still use Photoshop Elements to combine the images for the panorama, to add a little softness to the images, and for adding finishing touches. But I continue to be impressed by how much more quickly I can process the images. I still have a LOT to learn about the software, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

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