Mill Canal, River Lahn: Wetzlar Germany
I love to walk the old town of Wetzlar, and I never fail to find something new to photograph, or to discover a new light on an old favorite scene, but my only opportunity this trip was between 8 and 9PM at the tag end of day of heavy rain. I took my umbrella, and used it, as I explored what the fading light had to say about the ancient town. This is the mill canal along the old town side of the River Lahn were it separates, for the most part, Old Wetzlar and New. I love this jumble of houses, of many different ages (and that is using ages in its historical sense), along the canal, and the light gave me a good excuse to try an HDR shot where nothing else would have worked. The long exposure required for the late evening foreground would have burned the sky white, and an exposure for the clouds would have left the foreground close to black. I took two exposures separated by 3.5 stops, –2EV and +1.5EV, and combined them using the Detail Enhancement/Tone Mapping mode in Photomatix. The result is actually pretty close to a naked eye view. Presented as an photograph, it might strikes the eye as painterly, since we know, from daily experience of recoded images, that a camera could not have caught that range.
The image is not perfect. I was working, as usual, without a tripod, and trying to balance an umbrella as well…but I still like the effect. You would have to walk along the canal in Wetzlar, on a rainy evening with your umbrella up, to know how well it captures the atmosphere of the place.
In addition to the treatment in Photomatix, I adjusted color balance in Lighroom, slid the Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and used the Sharpen narrow edges preset. I also used the distortion controls, both for lens and vertical perspective, to restore a natural look.
Corrected distortion is actually another reason why the experienced eye sees this image as painterly…we have come to expect, to totally accept, wide angle and vertical distortion in photographs…when it is not there, or when it is corrected as in this image, we miss it!
From Germany and England 2010.