Castle Valley Looking Monumental
Castle Valley is a picture perfect valley of massive mesas and epic rock towers twenty miles east of Moab, Utah that on this day was reminding me of another slightly more famous valley just a bit more south. ;-)
Castle Valley is part of a large collapsed salt anticline that includes Paradox Valley to the southeast on the other side of the La Sal Mountains. The total valley is approximately 8 miles long and 3 miles wide (slightly larger than Manhattan Island). The town of Castle Valley is an eclectic community home to artists, conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts with author Terry Tempest Williams being one of its more famous residents.
This area is a showcase of geology. Over 300 million years ago, thick layers of salt were deposited in the area under marine conditions. These layers were subsequently buried under sediments. The entire area was lifted in the late Tertiary to create the Colorado Plateau. Over time, erosion of the sedimentary layers allowed ground and surface water to contact and dissolve the salt layers. Overlying rock strata collapsed and eroded, forming Castle Valley. High angle fault systems exist on both sides of Castle Valley as a result of the collapse process.
This photo really shows off the impact of the powerful forces of erosion on the landscape, note the deep groves cut through by rainstorms over millenia.
Image Notes: This image is based on a 7-frame HDR special blend of Photomatix tone-mapped HDR frames and non-HDR frames. DXO was used to export all Tiffs with neutral settings and distortion correction and lens softness correction enabled. I used one HDR tone-mapped with tone compressor on all 0 settings to create a layer with the right color info, one details enhancer tone-mapping version with more aggressive settings to bring out dynamic range, one fusion version with mostly moderate settings and color and finally the -0.3 EV frame. I stacked the frames as such: base layer was the compressor version, next the fusion layer, then next the details enhancer (set to luminosity blend mode to avoid the horrific color casts typically created by this tone-mapping process, and on top went the non-HDR -0.33 EV frame twice, once with color blend mode and once with luminosity blend mode. Then opacity was tweaked on the stacked layers to hopefully keep both dynamic range and realism high.
If you try any one thing from my workflow, be sure to try blending a more extreme HDR tone-mapped layer on top of a non-HDR or realistic color tone-compressor HDR layer with luminosity mode and fade to around 20-45% opacity.
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