Story Behind The Image: Gateway to Uluru

In mid-2017 my father and I drove into the heart of Australia to capture some astrophotography of Uluru. Clear conditions allowed us to photograph this iconic site under a sky full of stars and experience the landscape bathed in golden light during a sunrise flight.


I’ve already shared those images, yet this image at the base of Uluru has been left untouched on my hard drive. Why?

If you browse through my portfolio, you’ll find a lack of images captured during daylight. My shots are centred around sunrise, sunset, night and overcast conditions. That’s been a conscious decision, allowing me to control the light in the scenes I shoot.

Bright daylight scenes are one of the few situations where I’ve struggled to capture appealing compositions. The direct sunlight produces harsh contrast—something I’ve purposefully stayed clear of.

Now back to this mid-morning image taken at the base of Uluru. The direct light illuminated the foreground grass and brought out the reds in the rock which contrasted against the blue sky overhead. Yet the shadows were harsh and the colours were too jarring (especially the in the sky).

Over the past year I’ve made a conscious effort in my editing process to better control colour and light in my images. As I’ve grown in skill and confidence, the time felt right to approach this image. 

Using both luminosity masks and subtle dodging/burning, I was able to better control and direct lighting, while a newfound appreciation for HSL sliders allowed me to rein in the blues and reds which were too overpowering. The final image here is a softer, more refined version of the original—one that I’m pleased to share.

Next time you face a challenge in your photography, take a moment’s pause. Can this be viewed not as a challenge, but as an opportunity? An opportunity to grow in knowledge and expertise? An opportunity to become a better rounded photographer?