sturgeon river, foggy, summer, long exposure, Alberta, moody, Dan Jurak, RAW images,

When I go through old RAW images I am immediately remembered of what it was like on that particular morning or evening, how I felt and even what I was thinking.

Looking back over those many thousands of files is like traveling in a time machine.

So when I looked back on a batch photographed on the early morning of May 26, 2013 I immediately recognized what I first thought when looking at the muddy Sturgeon River.

The Sturgeon River for those who aren’t familiar with the area immediately north of Edmonton is a slow moving, muddy, willow encroached stream more than a river.

The name I understand comes from where it empties into the North Saskatchewan River. A hundred or so years ago sturgeon, those giants of the rivers would spawn there. Photos taken then show fish over seven feet long and weighing a few hundred pounds. They still inhabit the North Saskatchewan but are not very common anymore.

The spot in the photograph is near a small rural development where there are a dozen or so acreages in the valley that the river/creek has carved out over millennia.

On this morning, up before the sun with high humidity and now wind the fog hung low in the river valley. Everything was soaked with the dew. I knew enough to wear a pair of waterproof pants. Too many times I had done this before and knew that if I didn’t everything would be soaked from the waist down.

Maybe a half an hour before sunrise I made it to the waters edge and saw these swirls in the river. I think that is what attracted me to this composition. I continued taking photos until the sun was well above the horizon and the morning fog and burned away. Then it was the twenty minute drive home for a change of clothes and a fresh pot of coffee.

I never processed this image, the first that I took that morning. No matter how I tried I couldn’t come up with anything that I liked and so it stayed on my hard drive for all these years, forgotten.

But things change. I have been playing so much with luminosity masks which allow me to selectively control very specific areas of the image. I had an idea of what was possible with this image that I wouldn’t have been able to do a few years previous.

As with just about everything that I photograph outside this was one of five bracketed shots. I looked at the one image that had the best shadow detail while still not blowing out the highlights and forty minutes later, voila!

Above is the RAW image unretouched as it came out of my RAW converter before tweaking it in Photoshop.

I have many hundreds more photos like this to play with and I am sure that you do too. If  the composition works for you hang onto those RAW images you don’t know what you will be capable of in the future or what technology will be available.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on March 22, 2018.

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