Exercise 1.9 – Soft Light Landscape

The brief for this exercise is lengthy so it can be found at the bottom of the page.

Landscape photography is not something that I enjoy as a rule. I don’t feel enthusiastic about it. However, I really enjoyed this exercise. I had been to counselling and I really needed to be behind my camera. It grounds me, helps me get back into the moment, and it stops me from over analysing. I didn’t take a tripod with me, but I did follow the brief in relation to bracketing exposures and taking the photos from different angles (and focal lengths).

Once uploaded to Lightroom, my process was similar for all of the photos – Remove chromatic aberration, enable profile corrections, set white point by holding down the alt key whilst increasing the white slider (until I get yellow or white spots that indicate clipping), do the same for blacks to set black point but decreasing the black slider, then use levels to increase the mid-tones, and finally increase the shadows slider if I thought was necessary. I usually increase clarity to +21 and vibrance to +17. Next I used control E, to export to Photoshop as I prefer the spot healing tool in Photoshop than in Lightroom.

Developed Images



Exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape


Image 1 – my favourite out of the three. The solitary tree has a strength and a calmness to it, and was similar to how I was feeling. The image has an OK depth of field, its not brilliant, but I am pleased with the final result. I used a graduated filter to burn the sky and diagonally either side of the tree, to make the tree pop a little. Considering the dull, flat original the end product has turned out OK

Image 2 – Another photo that look decidedly uninteresting as taken, but I took it because of how the thistle stood out, and the colours of the heather. As well as the instruction for luminosity, I have used an adjustment brush with -.3 exposure to burn the heather and grasses around the thistle, another adjustment brush to dodge the thistle and semi-circle to its right. This gives the thistle a frame to stand within. aesthetically it is a better photo than the first image, but doesn’t meet the brief as I have lost the depth of field by bending down to ensure a lower eye level, so the focal point is closer to the camera.

Image 3 – Fits the brief well. Good depth of field, natural luminosity through out, strong use of shadows and smooth tone gradient. Having the edge of the trees in the foreground means there is a strong frame for the village in the centre (mid-ground). But not an inspiring subject.

Image 4 – Good depth of field. Strong foreground, and I like the background a lot. The sky, the horizon and the sea add a needed softness to contrast the foreground, I also like the light on the sea. Having the Abbey in the mid-ground provides an object and the surrounding church and housing create a subject.

Summary – I believe that I am competent with the basic tools in Lightroom, so that I can add luminosity to a photograph. I also have enough knowledge and technique to dodge and burn effectively so that I can bring out an object so that it becomes a focal point. I do not enjoy landscape photography and I believe that it shows in this selection of images. However, I did enjoy this exercise and taking so many photos in a short space of time (around 300) has meant that I have started to discover subjects in the land that I would have overlooked photographically. It isn’t to say that I don’t notice and enjoy these things when I walk around, because I do. But my enthusiasm in photography is with macro, events and sociology. I know that I need to use a tripod more often.


Exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape

Brief:- Search your local area for a landscape, cityscape or other external environment where you’re able to get a wide view of a large expanse of space. Try a high vantage point. The subject of this exercise will ideally be lit with diffused light, so you’ll either need to wait for an overcast day, or photograph before the sun comes up or just after the sun has set. 1 Photograph the landscape using a tripod to keep your camera steady, with an aperture of f22 (the narrowest aperture) because this will give you most depth of field (focus). Shoot a variety of viewpoints and compositions with the horizon low in the frame (more sky) and then high (more earth). 2 Bracket your exposures using the shutter speed dial. You may have to make long exposures of over one minute depending on the available light so it would be useful to use a cable shutter release to prevent you jogging the camera. When you make long exposures you’ll notice how light ‘gathers’ in your photograph and moving objects will blur. Don’t worry about inherent bright spots like street lights or car headlights. 3 Upload your images to a computer. 4 Assess your photographs carefully. Choose one or two that are the most successful. 5 Look for the place within the image that has the darkest shadow in it and use Levels to make it black or dark grey. This is likely to be a shadowy edge or a silhouette. Do the same with the lightest point following the instructions in Exercise 1.2. 6 Use the middle slider to increase the mid-tone luminosity as high as you can before it becomes unnatural or blocky. Your goal is to increase the perceived luminosity of the photograph. 7 Now re-assess your photograph. Does it look real or unreal? Have you gone too far with the processing? Does it represent the view you saw with your eyes or is this an ‘image’ only a camera can create? 8 Save As…version_2 and respond to your own re-assessment. You may decide the photo looks better less ‘luminous’ or more ‘contrasty’, for example, or perhaps you prefer it in black and white.

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