It’s a privilege

It doesn’t matter how many times I say it, I’ll never get tired of it. We really are privileged to live where we do.

Admittedly we are fortunate enough to have these opportunities living where we do, but shots like this also have to be worked for. I was in fact walking home with no particular purpose and about 200m from home, walking through a small park with a children’s playground in it, when this scene presented itself to me…

Pure Gold

I took out my Panasonic FZ18, checked the exposure and settled on 4 hand-held shots. The camera told me it should ideally be 1/400sec at ƒ8.0. But I knew that wouldn’t give me what I was seeing. I knew it would be attempting to expose the trees in the foreground, so their foliage could be seen. I didn’t want that (and couldn’t really see that either), I wanted a pure silhouette of the foliage, maybe even more than my eye was seeing. But of course that would destroy the sky. Equally if I under-exposed to get the silhouette it was likely the delicacy of the branches and leaves would disappear into the dense shadows. It was also important in my mind to keep the outline of the (or what would be the) shadow area as it met the sky.

The 4 exposures I took were –

  1. 1/250sec
  2. 1/400sec
  3. 1/650sec
  4. 1/1000 sec

all at ƒ8.0 to keep as much of the depth and cloud shape I could, knowing that if I changed the ƒstop the cloud detail would likely be too different in each shot.

All the shots were then combined to give me the exposure I preferred for the sky together with the (under)-exposed silhouette of the trees in the foreground. Not possible in a single exposure but a superb result for what I was looking to achieve. After that I used the Develop module of Lightroom to selectively enhance the areas I wasn’t quite happy with in the sky. This gave me a little more shape, a slightly enhanced colour and removal of a slight green cast that had appeared in the lighter yellows of the sky. I also sharpened it a little to help with the shadow outline and leaf detail against the sky.

Sadly when I took the original shots the camera had defaulted to jpg rather than the raw setting (I learned that lesson to check before shooting). This meant I had quite a bit of noise to deal with in the sky. My preferred method here is with a set of plugins I have for Photoshop/Lightroom called Topaz. The ‘denoise’ option here gave me the ability to edit away much of the colour noise that existed in the final sky. This obviously softened the sky a little, which means some of the cloud detail is lost, but it is still better than the noise in the original.

I’m pretty happy with the end result. It is very close to my memory of the moment, maybe slightly more colourful, but it was the almost pure golden colour that caught my attention in the first place.

I hope you like it too. See you all again soon.



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