Friday, 19 August 2011

A slightly tricky sunset shoot

The other day I finally found time to head out at dusk for a landscape shoot. This time I headed to a place called Waldridge, County Durham and back to a location I’d been a few days before during the day. I’d thought then that it would be a good spot to shoot in the Golden Hours (dusk or dawn) due to its open views looking both east and west. Plus there was a lovely big cornfield which looked great in bad light; I knew it would look stunning in more directional lighting.
I arrived about half an hour before the sun was due to set (I would have liked to have been there earlier but it wasn’t possible that day) and got set up. I was using my Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod with ball head in case I wanted to take a panorama; this set-up is just that bit easier to use for panos compared to my Camlink system.
It was around about now that I could see my problem. The light wasn’t doing quite what I wanted it to this evening; instead of a nice bright sun on the horizon, sending long beams of golden light onto the corn in my foreground the clouds that had now turned up from nowhere were diffusing the light to such an extent that much of the landscape looked very flat. There just wasn’t any contrast to speak of. I walked up and down the width of the field and changed lenses/focal lengths numerous times, but I couldn’t seem to get a composition that worked.  What made matters worse was the fact I was distracted by a bold looking deer who was peering at me over the next hill with an expression that could only be described as amusement! Would I be paranoid to assume it was laughing at me? Probably.
Composed of 3 images manually merged in Photoshop using layers

I liked the geometric patterns the wires created and the gradation of colour from firy red to purple-blue in the sky

Not sure if there's too much empty space on the left side. What do people think?
Anyway, I eventually decided that the best option was to cut out most of the foreground and make the illuminated clouds my main subject. I chose a longer set of focal lengths between 100 and 200mm and focussed of the coloured sky with the line of pylons leading into the distance. I actually found that the masts made quite good subjects in their own right, silhouetted against the fiery colours of the sunset; my shots ended up with quite a Texan feel to them, except these were power lines rather than oil wells! They’re quite industrial-looking images which I think actually have a fair bit of impact. Pylons aren’t beautiful but they are intriguing. Compositionally these photos aren’t perfect, but all can say is at least I came away with something to talk about!      
I was shooting with my Canon EOS 7D and because I wanted to isolate the horizon detail I shot the whole time with a 70-200mm lens set at f/5.6 (this lens’ sharpest aperture) As usual I used a cable release and hotshoe spirit level. Since the light levels were low I stuck to manual focus for most of the time and used the magnified view in live view to confirm focus.
Comments are welcome.
See ya…!

No comments:

Post a Comment