We went behind the lens with local photographer Marc Dilley to find out how he captured his epic shot of Vantage, Washington.

Feather light is one of the more complex shots I’ve done in awhile. Because it was such a huge scene, my biggest lens, a Canon EF 24-70 zoom, couldn’t get it all in. So,  I had to resort to a two image upward pan-stitch. That by itself is no big deal, and in fact most of today’s consumer cameras can do it, but it was rendered much more complicated by the super-wide luminosity range between the shadows and the backlit parts of the rain squall.

I had to bracket six different exposures for each of the two pans to get all the detail I needed in the shadows of the Feathers and the brightest parts of that squall (Photoshop allows the photographer to “stack” different exposures of the same scene into one file. Then, using various digital tools, undesirable portions of each exposure can be hidden, and only the target regions of each exposure be rendered visible) .

Next came the balancing act – each pair of equivalent Raw exposures (from the lower pan and upper pan; they have about 1/3 of their area in common to facilitate the stitching process) had to be processed in Adobe Camera Raw exactly the same going into Photoshop, blended the same, and finally processed in Photoshop exactly the same or the final stitch would appear blotchy. It took me many attempts before I was happy with the results.