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Behind the Shot: A Vibrant Landscape Captured With An Unexpected Lens

Galena Staroselsky (@photogalena_) is a landscape and adventure photographer based in Gunnison, Colorado. She works full-time as a Lead OSP Design Engineer and spends most of her free time traveling to the mountains, oceans and deserts to camp, hike and capture landscapes. “I personally love to maintain the natural beauty of these landscapes by keeping the tones and colors bright and vibrant, and ultimately creating a sense of wanderlust and adventure.” We sat down with Staroselsky to get the story behind this brilliant landscape image.

Landscape and adventure photographer Galena Staroselsky shares how she creates a sense of wanderlust through her bright & vibrant imagery.


Photo by Galena Staroselsky. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6. 1-sec., f/22, ISO 50

The Scene

This shot was taken at Lost Lake in Crested Butte, Colorado. I had actually just moved to Gunnison, a small town about 30 minutes South of Crested Butte right before fall season started. I was camping with a few friends that suggested this spot for sunrise the following morning, and when they decided to sleep in, I decided to continue on solo.

Once I arrived at the parking lot, I grabbed my gear and joined the other few photographers scattered along the bank. It was pretty brisk and the lake was absolutely glass as the sun slowly started to rise over the mountains. I remember the absolute silence surrounding the lake as nobody there wanted to disturb any part of the scene. The clouds didn't change color as much as we all hoped for, but the bright yellow aspens looked extra beautiful as a bald eagle gracefully soared over the lake. I felt nothing but peace and gratitude as I watched this incredible scene unfold in front of me early this morning.

The Gear

I was shooting on my Sony Alpha 7R II camera body with my Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The Sony 28-70mm is a very lightweight and versatile lens which makes it a convenient hiking companion. Variable aperture zooms carry a stigma in some photography circles, but for landscapes, when you're frequently stopped down to get more depth of field, you never even notice it. I wanted to focus on the towering mountain in the background but keep the sharpness of the lake reflection and floating log in the foreground. My Alpha 7R II's ability to capture detail and contrast in low-light allowed me to grab the shadows of the darker pine trees and rocks underneath the water's surface.

Getting the Shot

My camera settings were:

  • 1 second shutter speed
  • f/22 aperture
  • ISO 50
  • 30mm

I was at 30mm to maintain the full reflection and the wide-angle feeling in the foreground. I typically don't use my tripod unless I want to capture deeper focus and detail like I did in this instance. I wanted the reflection as sharp as possible without over-exposing the brightness in the sky as the sun started to light up the clouds.

The Edit

I used Lightroom to edit this particular photo. I started off by making minor corrections such as removing visible dust, cropping, and straightening. The image came out darker so I lightened the shadows and balanced out the highlights. I adjusted the overall tone from blue to purple, and enhanced the saturation and vibrance of the aspen trees, pine trees, and clouds. Lastly, I strengthened the texture of the log and rocks in the foreground and the mountain peak, and overall kept the image darker to create a moodier feel.

See more of Galena Staroselsky's work on Instagram @photogalena_.


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