Landscapes,  Photo Stories

Photo Story: Yellowstone – Just One Tree

This photo was taken in Yellowstone National Park just west of the Lamar Valley. It was a cloudy and stormy afternoon in Yellowstone.  

Just One Tree

I really like the composition of this photo with the single tree on a barren hillside with the angry clouds looming behind the tree and just a touch of blue sky in the upper left of the frame.

But I really had a hard time deciding how to process the photo.  I tried using Topaz Clarity and Nik (Google) Color Efex Pro 4 for ideas but couldn’t come up with anything I liked.  I also tried to convert the photo to black and white.  That didn’t work for me either.

I finally let the photo sit for a week and then came back to it.  I used a couple of plug-ins to give the photo the final look.  I used the 70s Chrome Little Recipe in Color Efex Pro 4 as a start for processing.  Click here to download the Color Efex Pro 4 Recipes from Nik.

I also used the Photo Pop filter in Topaz Adjust 5 to make the hillside stand out.  I used a Layer Mask in Photoship CC 2014 so the Photo Pop filter was only applied to the tree and hillside and not the clouds.  See the Processing section below for more information on how the photo was processed. 


Camera:  Canon 7d
Lens:   Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II + 1.4x Teleconverter
Focal Length:  250mm
ISO:  400
Aperture:   f/10.0
Shutter Speed: 1/200 of a second
Exposure Compensation: -1
Lighting: Cloudy Afternoon


  • Cropped the photo and increased exposure in the Lightroom 5 Develop Module.
  • Used the 70’s Chrome Little recipe in Color Efex Pro 4 as a starting point for my processing.  I removed the border from the filter and used a control point so the vignette did not apply to the blue sky.
  • Applied the Photo Pop filter in Topaz Adjust to only the hillside and tree by using a layer mask in Photoshop.
  • Selectively lightened, darkened, and added saturation to the photo using Viveza 2 from Google.
  • Selectively reduced noise from the clouds using Topaz DeNoise
    and a layer mask in Photoshop CC 2014
  • Selectively sharpened the photo using the Unsharp Mask Filter and a layer mask in Photoshop CC 2014.

Written by Martin Belan

Related Blog Posts
Top Yellowstone Landscape Photography Ideas – Part 1
Top Yellowstone Landscape Photography Ideas – Part 2
A Panoramic Tour of Yellowstone National Park with the iPhone

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