Carlsbad Caverns National Park

2013.11.16
Day One Hundred and Fifty Eight. And Day 15 of our Epic Cross Country Road Trip! I was really looking forward to going down into Carlsbad Caverns. I have fond memories of the fanciful universe that is Luray Caverns, or at least I have fanciful memories of Luray Caverns (which, after some googling, my memories of Luray are much more fanciful than reality, colouring-wise anyways). I was disappointed in two distinct fashions. First, I was disappointed by how hard it was to breath through the thick smell of bat droppings at the entrance. And, second, I was disappointed by how absolutely bland the colours were in the caverns. Literally everything was the same off-white-yellowish-gray color. They attempted to spruce things up a bit by putting gelled lights throughout, adding a colour splash here and there, but the effect felt very forced. I started processing most of these images as black and white to let the shapes do the talking, but found they where too diverse and lacking in strong tonal separation, so I floundered for a bit. I tried some as HDR, but the off-white-yellowish-gray color of the rock only got worse when enhanced, so I went back to floundering. The thought of deleting the whole set crossed my mind more than once, but I had a few images that I liked, so I wasn't going to give up that easily. I took one of the images I'd processed down to black and white back into HDR and stared menacingly at it, willing it to get better. Finally, it dawned on me: the off-white-yellowish-gray color was only getting worse because my HDR presets tend toward a warmer white balance. So, I took the white balance slider and I impetuously threw it in the extreme opposite direction. There. At last, the fanciful play of colours I'd imaged danced across the image. I quickly saved the result, went back, and reprocessed most of the rest of the images. The rock formations of Carlsbad Caverns may never stand up next to the graceful beauty of the granite in Yosemite, but at least I had the Alice-in-Wonderland-esque colours I saw when I closed my eyes and pictured caverns. Enjoy :)
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