Friday, March 9, 2012

Ride Along: Golden Sky

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place!

Today we’re going on another ride along. This one isn’t too far from home, so we’ll keep it short.

While exploring the backside of Hohenfels Sunday, I stumbled upon this scene and knew it was something I wanted to keep.

Hohenfels Volks: Golden Sky
ISO 400, f/22, 1/50, 35mm, Canon EOS 7D
The sun dipping slowly toward night's rest and renewal.

Going over the hill from Hohenfels proper toward Raitenbuch, you come across a small country lane meandering through the fields. Having been down this road before, I knew there were some nice scenics waiting to reward the one bringing them home. There is a tiny little chapel between 2 giant trees there, with some magnificent views of the hills around.

The shot was easy to visualize, I came up with several in fact. Composition was envisioned to include the colors all around as one the key elements. The sky was partly cloudy, with some nice golden glow from the sun hanging around the think veneer of sheeted clouds, and a nice blue in the areas without cloud cover.

I arrived moments before the color really started coming out. I took several shots, hoping to see something I could work with. I included the trees and the chapel in several, but liked this one for matching the closest to what I visualized.

I metered off the tree with the Gossen Sixtomat, at ISO 400. Giving the tree a –2-stop exposure from the meter would have washed out the sky and left the color flat and a bit comical. Metering the tree for –3 stops and the grass for about –2 stops from middle gray, meant I could shoot at f/22, which was part of getting the sun to streak in a nice little starburst. I was also able to shoot at 1/50, which limited the streaking to just a couple rays coming lightly over the hills in the distance through the clouds.

Getting it into Canon DPP, or the digital darkroom, added some magic. Canon has some “Picture Styles” for their application that come standard, allowing for the most common edits to color and contrast to be quickly applied. My first thought was Landscape, but that left the gold too vague and muddled. Having downloaded several other styles from Canon’s site, I settled on Autumn Hues for the picture style. This softened the contrast between the sun and the hills; it also made for some nice separation of the golds, oranges, and reds in the sky. I adjusted my levels, crushing them in some for clarity.

After that, I set the color temperature to about 6000K, which brought the color in line with the lighting hues. Increasing the contrast to +1 and the shadows to +2 added to the glow around the hills and tree, while allowing the levels to hold up throughout the image, including the separation in the distant hills. The last adjustment was to take saturation down –1 and sharpen.

The car coming up the road in the middle ground adds a nice little reference point for the viewer to pause. That was a lucky little bit of happenstance. I liked the lights as he was approaching and shot quickly to include his headlights. This photo captures what I visualized, and expresses the joy one gets when out looking for shots, especially when you find one that works for your vision. Shooting with a vision can make for some interesting stuff, knowing what tools you have at your disposal to make your vision a reality makes easier work of it!

Check out Canon’s site and download some of their picture styles. You’ll see some stuff that probably doesn’t appeal to you, at least I did, but you’ll also find something that does. I’m certain Nikon and other companies have something similar, if not, you can make your own in whatever app is your digital darkroom! Exposure and visualization start your image on its journey; your level controls and tools in software bring it home. Using them all together can make something that brings others to that same place with you!

Take care and enjoy your day!

Don’t forget to post any of your images you’d like to see here at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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