Sunday, 29 March 2009

Introspective... Sutton Backlane

Every so often when I update the main site, I feature a photo that I really enjoyed crafting. When it's time for the next, I move the current one here.

So here it is. A back lane in the Sutton area, looking towards Sutton Harbour and the Barbican. Shepherds Lane, Plymouth, 2008.

I was doing what I call an opportunist photo shoot - a walk around the areas close to where I live to see what turns up.

I'd seen this back lane many times (people including me have often used it as a cut-through during the rush-hour) but I'd never seen it looking down towards the Barbican and it looks totally different. Luckily we had fairly fast-moving broken, but angry clouds. This gave different lighting conditions by the minute as the clouds scudded across the sky.

Composing and making the capture

Composition was fairly straight forward, it was an obvious choice to go for a vertical format, to frame the whole lane and to give the emphasis to following the road/cobbles with the eye.

I made sure there was a diagonal lead in, using the kerb and the handy dog-leg at the bottom left.

Finally, I made sure that the place where the lane came to a point with the diminishing perspective, was close to one of the thirds' power points. I was happy the way this lead the eye on to the roofs of the Barbican beyond.

The ground was still damp after on-off light drizzle and you could see how reflective it was - so I knew I would get a high contrast shot (just as I like them).

Exposure, ISO etc.

I was using my trusty Canon EFS 17-85mm IS USM. It was a bit dark so I set my ISO to 400. This would give some noise in the sky but to get the wide depth of field I wanted (basically, from my feet to infinity), I needed to be at f9. I exposed for the darker right hand wall and ended up with 1/125 sec. If the light hadn't been changing so quickly, I might have dropped to ISO 200. But there you go...

Digital darkroom

Once it was in the digital darkroom, I treated it pretty much as standard for this sort of challenging shot (one with a wide dynamic range).

I combined three exposures (from the one RAW file) and worked on that. A bit of TLR capture sharpening first, convert to mono, paying particular attention to the overall interplay between the bushes, stone and sky, followed by some noise reduction in the sky.

A tweak on the curves to increase the contrast and a slight adjustment to the levels around the mid-tones and that was it.
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