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The Making of Spa Pool Hamersley Gorge

March 18th, 2015

Spa Pool Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park

Spa Pool in Hamersley Gorge.  Karijini NP, western Australia, uneditedThis image was shot on my last trip to the Pilbara in the middle of last year, Spa Pool is a small rock pool (about the size of a big spa) in Hamersley Gorge which is part of Karijini National Park.  A lot of visitors to the park skip Hamersley Gorge since you have to drive quite a way outside the park to get there.  It looks inviting doesn’t it?  Like it would be nice to sit in, as the name suggests?  I have seen people swim in Spa Pool… Briefly. It’s very very cold.

This image was shot in the early pre-sunrise light of dawn, so there was no sunlight bouncing around causing havoc with the shadows.  At that time of day the light is still directional as the eastern part of the sky (where the sun is about to rise) is considerably brighter than the rest, creating soft shadows that really add the third dimension of depth and texture to the beautiful layering of the rocks around the pool. All of this textured rock leads your eye into the primary subject of the pool and waterfall, which since its enclosed on three sides by rocks is of course quite dark… As you can see from the unprocessed image below, the pool at the centre region of the shot is a lot darker than the surrounding rocks which are lit by open sky.

Spa Pool in Hamersley Gorge.  Karijini NP, western Australia, unedited imageThis image is shot in Raw, so it has lots of dynamic range to play with, and because of the time of day I could easily get away with a single exposure to capture all the information. In Lightroom I used the exposure slider and the shadow and highlight recovery to ensure my histogram had full details showing with no clipped highlights or shadows, then export to Photoshop as a hi-res tiff in 16bit (using ProPhoto RGB colour space) to work on reversing the lightness range in the image.  Brightening the pool and waterfall, while darkening the surrounding rocks and adding selective contrast to really bring out the layering and texture.  Most of that could could actually have been done in Lightroom using the selective brush and the radial gradient tool, but I find Photoshop to be more precise and quicker to work with for long detailed jobs like this.

The image was shot on the Hasselblad H5D-50 with the 28mm lens, 6.3sec @ f25

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