When the wind is just right, the skies above Black’s Beach team with para gliders and hang gliders. This particular shot was taken at a 10mm focal length (15mm full-frame equivalent) as I stood very near the edge of a 300 foot sand cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The gliders ride the updrafts as the wind comes off the ocean and shoots straight up along the face of the cliff. These thrill seekers can ride these winds for extended periods of time and never lose altitude. The Gliderport is located on the Torrey Pines State Reserve, nestled between the beach towns of La Jolla and Del Mar. La Jolla can be seen in the background of this photo as it extends out into the ocean to form a point. And those little dots on the sand below… those are people.
All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.
Untouched RAW Image
This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not too shabby, but it needed some work on a few areas. I decided to keep the color on this one because of the sky in the upper portion of the image.
I set the white balance to a temperature of 5500 and a tint of +8. Then I brought the exposure to -.5, set the recovery to 100, no fill light, blacks at 13, brightness at +14, contrast at +35, clarity at 35, vibrance at +17, and saturation at +7. Do note that a lot of these settings weren’t made in this order — there’s a lot of back-and-forth between these settings and the settings on the other two panels I used.
Tone Curve Adjustment
I set a “strong contrast” on the point curve, and added some extra contrast on the parametric curve with highlights set to -28, lights at +26, darks at -13, and shadows at -4.
Vignette and Sharpen
In the detail panel, I set the sharpening to an amount of 50 and a radius of 1.5. In the lens corrections panel, I added some positive vignette. So instead of darkening the corners, I lightened them to even out the image and brighten the foreground. At 10mm, my lens tends to produce a slight amount of vignette, so I punched up the value in ACR to +50 with a midpoint of 0. I lost some contrast in the clouds (which I over-contrasted just for this reason), but I gained a whole lot of brightness in the lower left corner.