Infinite Sky over Back Creek

Some days the sky is just irresistible. I saw this one coming on, and snuck out after a quick lunch to drive the two miles to the beach and marsh to see if it was everything I hoped. It was. I am working with a new camera and this was my first chance to try for the big sky with it…learning, learning, learning. The Canon has a programmable user button which I have set to Exposure Lock. That function locks the exposure, obviously, but it also gives access to Program Shift, with a spin of the control wheel. In this case it was the exposure lock I was after. I am in the habit, in tricky lighting like this where you want a balanced exposure with plenty of sky detail and still enough light on the land, of tipping the camera up to take the exposure reading. With past cameras I often had to choose between where I wanted the exposure and where I wanted the focus…since when you tip the camera up it moves the center of both…okay, except that often with it tipped up enough for exposure, the focus can not find anything high contrast enough to grab on to. So you compromise and move the focus down. With the Canon, you can lock the exposure where you want it, then recompose and focus. Nice.

You can, of course, accomplish the same thing with Exposure Compensation, but that takes longer.

So for this shot, I tipped up well into the sky and locked exposure, tipped down to place the horizon, focused and shot. The result was, of course, underexposed for the land, but I know what I can do in Lightroom, and if I am careful with the underexposure, I can bring it back up with Fill Light, restore the contrast with a Blackpoint adjustment, and add some Vibrance at need. Oh, and tone down the highlights with Recovery. The result is a pseudo-HDR effect, from a single jpg exposure and file.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. F4 @ 1/250th @ ISO 160. Programmed auto with shenanigans as outlined above.

And, as above, that’s what I did in Lightroom, plus added Clarity and Sharpen landscape preset. 

From Around Home 2010.

And here, for comparison, is the same image processed using Graduated Filter effects in Lightroom. I used three filters: down from the top to darken, up from the bottom to lighten and increase contrast, and across the horizon to lighten. The first image is more faithful to the day, as it was dark, as shown. The second is, to my eye, more dramatic.

And, as suggested by one of the comments below, here is one more attempt…the first image with the color temperature adjusted slightly.

5 Responses to “2/26/2010”

  1. 02/26/2010 at 9:01 am

    The rule of thirds is DEAD? the horizon line can be in the middle?

    Might work if it were a square picture.

    It is out of balance.

    I might fall.

    i feel



  2. 3 singraham
    02/26/2010 at 12:40 pm

    The rule of thirds is not dead…I follow it 90% of the time myself. It just gets suspended from time to time to allow for artistic license. 🙂 Personally I call it the “really really good idea of thirds” to be ignored only if you have really really good reasons.

  3. 02/26/2010 at 1:32 pm

    I like the composition in this instance – the balance between earth and sky. The creek gives the Rule of Thirds anchor, if you need it. The contrast between the vibrant colour of the sky and the duller ground is striking. I find myself really in two minds about which shot I prefer. For some reason the sky and the ground don’t seem to be quite in balance in the first shot – the ground seems not to have picked up any warmth from the sky, but perhaps that is how it was.

    The sky is extraordinary …

  4. 5 singraham
    02/26/2010 at 8:33 pm

    You hit it exactly! I have been trying to figure out what bothered me about the first rendition…it needs a bit of color correction…a touch of warmth. Makes all the difference in the world! Thank you. I will tack on an adjusted image at the end.

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