One of Dad’s earliest adventures at Big Bend National Park in Texas produced the image “Roper at Sunset”. He and the model hiked about six miles climbing with photo and camping gear to the 2,000-foot South Rim.
Dad envisioned a silhouetted, roping cowboy against the backdrop of a gorgeous, layered mountain sunset. Roping is an everyday event on ranches across America. Most of the time it looks mundane because of a cluttered, boring or distracting background. Dad wanted to make an ordinary event look spectacular.
Sunset at Big Bend’s Chisos Mountains certainly fit the bill. He’d previously scouted locations at the park and knew the South Rim would be perfect. Sure enough everything came together that evening when the rich colors burst over the mountains.
Dad thought everything in the photo came together nicely. He would, however, have to wait until the film was processed to actually see the results. When he finally saw the results, it was clear to him that something wasn’t quite right. Dad didn’t like the way the rope hung in the air and the cowboy’s arm placement.
In the past, the only option would have been a re-shoot. But a novel type of software gave Dad some exciting new options photographers would come to love. Photoshop allowed him to remove the original roper from the photo and replace him with a cowboy Dad photographed in Colorado. The software also allowed Dad to add more layers of mountains in the background.
It was a brave new world in photography. His success with “Roper at Sunset” would spur Dad to use Photoshop to produce other spectacular images from Big Bend.