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True Grit

July 28, 2012
True Grit by johnchamilton
True Grit, a photo by johnchamilton on Flickr.

Bareback-riding action from the 2012 Hamel Rodeo, MN. This was a fun image all around. (Warning: dreary tech talk ahead.) First, the capture: I shot against the railing, close to the chutes, with my trusty D200 and 70-200 zoom, set to a high shutter speed. I got lucky and the horse/rider came right at me. When the horse knocked the metal barrier, I tumbled into the mud. Kids, don’t try this at home!

In Camera RAW, I adjusted for contrast. Had to double process, once for the horse/cowboy, and once for the crowd, to keep all the highlights from blowing out. Combined the two exposures with a mask, then flattened.

I first converted to black-and-white using a simulated red filter, which darkened the sky and lightened the skin tones. Next I used the Gradient Map adjustment panel, then converted to grayscale (Image–Mode–Grayscale). After that I converted to a tritone, a nice combination of rich black and two warm grays. Back to RGB mode. Burned the four corners to bring the viewer’s eye more toward center. Used the high-pass sharpening method for extra-crispy goodness.

Thanks for stopping by, buckaroos!

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