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Robert Watcher

Even if it is NOON - and the CLOUDS move out

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Anne and I were heading up to the Bruce Peninsula on Saturday to spend a weekend with our friends. It is beautiful countryside and many opportunities struck my eye as I drove along the 2 hour trek to our destination.

The main reasons that I didn't stop to grab pictures along the way, was because it was around noon when we were traveling - as well as the roads that we were taking are narrow, hilly and difficult to pull off to the side - and our friends were expecting us to be there for lunch.

Coming up over a hill however, my eye caught sight of the 2 trees beside each other right at the peak of the hill - with a massive cloud formation as a backdrop. The overhead sun that was behind me, was hidden by a huge cloud making the scene look impressive.

It took me almost a kilometer down the road before I could find a place to spin the van around and head back to the exact position that I wanted. As soon as I got out of the van with my camera, the dense cloud that the sun was hiding behind moved out of the way with no more clouds to follow.

I was going to just forget about taking the picture. It was bad enough that I was shooting a potentially stunning scene at the worst time of day but at least with a little drama as a result of the cloud covering the sun - but now with the cloud out of the way, I was faced with a scene lit with frontal light from a high angle.

I knew that the elements were there, but I also knew that I wouldn't be passing by that location again and that the impressive wintery looking cloud formations that were a result of an oncoming storm - would not likely be there even if I did get back.

But I'm glad that I shot it to show the nice fall colours in the symmetrical trees (almost mirrored in the clouds above them), fence defining the horizon, beautiful clouds and brilliant sky. There is no doubt that it would have been vastly better taking the shot at a time late in the day or early morning - but I wouldn't have a picture of the setting, and this way I do.

Shot taken with my Olympus E-3 and 50mm F2 Macro. f8 @ 1/1000'th : 100 ISO. I underexposed be about a stop to maintain detail in the clouds (I have deliberately blown out some of the highlights in processing, to add some drama):

Here is a quick snap that I took when getting back in my van to leave - it shows a little bit of the road that I was on and the hill that I came upon with the 2 trees. This pic was taken with the meter reading, where it is evident how there would have been no detail in the clouds if I had taken my final shot this way:

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Updated 12th October 2009 at 02:03 PM by Robert Watcher

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  1. Robert Watcher's Avatar
    When asked if I used a polorizer or Photoshop to come up with in the intense Blue of the sky - this is my response:

    The colour of sky is pretty well out of camera once I adjusted the contrast, with just a small amount of Cyan enhanced with Selective Color - and whites of clouds were enhanced somewhat by brightening up the whites using Slective Color. I shot in Vivid Mode which aided in the more intense look. Obviously by underexposing the image when taking the shot - to maintain detail throughout the clouds - - - the ground and trees had to be brought up in levels to balance the density of the sky. I also increased specific colours somewhat (red with a selection of just the trees, and green with the selection of just the grass) using "Selective Color" in Photoshop and dodged and burned different parts of the scene to get the flavour I was after.

    Here is the uncropped and unprocessed underexposed (to maintain detail in cloud highlights) image from the camera:

    With only a contrast tweak using Curves, it is evident that the sky colour and cloud density were there. Nothing has been done to this file over the original above, except to adjust the curves:

    To get to the final image at the start of this post, the grassy area and trees were handled separately with selections and adjustment layers, to lighten and intensify the fall colours.