It was my first day in Zion National Park in Utah. I was overwhelmed with the majesty and scale of the great cliffs and tried not to let my jaw drop too far while extending my neck back to see the top.
For our first exploration Ray and I decided that we would take the park shuttle all the way to the end of the line to get an overview of the park. There was an easy hike at the end we could do before returning back to our RV park after sunset.
While hiking along the trail I made some images of the river with the great cliffs in the background when I noticed some water dripping off the side of the mountain. It was not a great shot, but I was looking at it and decided to play around a bit.
I didn’t think it was a feasible image, but sometimes I like to just play and see what happens. It was a little dark so I cranked up my ISO just so I could get an exposure (all of you who have made my mistake will recognize it here). It’s not that I didn’t have my tripod, I was carrying it on my back, its just that the shot wasn’t even worth taking it off my back. I was just playing. If it turned into something feasible I would have gotten my tripod out then. But it wasn’t, the shot sucked, so I moved on.
Yup, that’s right, rookie mistake right here folks. I didn’t set my ISO back where it belonged. So all the beautiful images I made afterwards of the golden sunset reflecting off the river in the Narrows where the canyon walls come close together were all taken at ISO 1250. 1250!! That was going to cause a ton of noise and make it impossible to print anything but a small image.
Crap!! I was sooooo mad at myself. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t even notice how short my exposures were when I was purposefully trying to get long exposures with my 4 stop neutral density filter. I was just looking at the histogram and totally ignoring the actual numbers that were coming out.
Ray couldn’t do anything to get a smile out of me on the shuttle trip home. Even the offer of pie didn’t get me out of my funk and pie always works. I mean, what problem can’t be solved or at least pleasantly ignored when there’s pie?
Well, here’s the shot I was so upset about being ruined.
You wouldn’t be able to see the noise in any case with an image this small on the web (you can click to see a slightly larger one), but you know … it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, after I used the simple noise reduction in Lightroom, it’s barely visible at all.
Now I wonder which was the rookie mistake: forgetting to reset my ISO or being so mad at myself that I ruined my whole evening.