Archive for April 18th, 2009



Dunnattor Castle

Dunnattor Castle

Our host in Aberdeen put us on to this castle, as it would be on our way when we left, so we watched for the signs as drove down the east coast of Scotland in the morning. It was well signed but still not easy to find, being well off the main road. And, of course, when we got there it was raining. Not hard but hard enough to make it a dampish walk the quarter mile or so from the car park, protecting the camera all the way. Ah, but what a beautiful place. Dramatic. Rushing streams pouring down over moss covered cliffs. Straight drops to the gray sea, and the Castle ruins standing alone on a promontory so deeply carved it was all but an island. Add the brooding sky and a band of light along horizon where the storm broke and you had the makings of quite a scene. Unfortunately you also had a very difficult photographic challenge. The moss and turf was so dark, and the horizon so bright, with the castle pushed right up against it. Lots of water in the air (not to mention on the lens if not careful) sucking the contrast out of any distance. Still, you have to try. I took maybe thirty different shots, quick grabs when I whipped the camera out, got the shot off, and the camera back in its bag before it got too wet.

Of course, I would like to get back here with more time and better weather. I would like to spend a day, or a week, or a year photographing this scenery…but, in fact, I may never get another chance at this landscape. The pictures I took that day in the rain may be my only images of this place. If so, let it be so, and I will make the most of the shots I managed to get.

Sony DSC H50 at full wide (31mm equivalent). F4.0 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100. Programed Auto.

This shot required a lot more post processing than I normally use. I spent a good ten minutes on it. First a Graduated Filter effect from the top down to the horizon to darken the sky. 2) graduated filter effect from the bottom up to brighten the foreground and add contrast. 3) Adjustment brush applied to the two foreground castle structures, where I applied some exposure and brightness to lighten, along with some added contrast and some sharpening. 4) a second adjustment brush along the length of the low building to pull back the brightness (since at flat wall stood out too much). 5) a third adjustment brush along the bright horizon to pull back the exposure there a little. 6) general increased Vibrance and Clarity, and the Landscape sharpen preset. 6) moved the black point to the right to deepen the colors and added a bit of extra contrast to the whole image. 7)the yellow had become too bright with the exposure adjustments, so I pulled back the saturation of the yellow band in the HSL panel. 8) finally, I used the mouse selection tool in the HSL panel to select the gray of the water and darken it (luminance control).

Again, all of this manipulation is only to bring the image back to something like what I saw with my eye.

From Scotland.