Blue Mountains, Sydney

March 16, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Early morning looking over the Blue Mountains National Park.
Phase One 645DF with IQ180 digital back, 110mm Schneider lens.

The photo above will be best viewed as a large print. Why? Because there is a wealth of edge detail in the myriad trees and branches in the valley below. Take a look at what I mean:

Detail of the image above.

Now I'm not exactly sure how this will look on your computer screen, but hopefuly it will look reasonably crisp and sharp. Certainly the original file does to my eye and I will make a print on Canson BFK Rives paper tomorrow.

The photo was taken on the Canson Kayell Blue Mountains weekend just passed when Tony Hewitt, Alexia Sinclair and I entertained a dozen photographers and Kayell staff for a couple of days. It was pretty full on with early starts and unnecessarily late finishes, but great food and company. Thanks to Rob Gatto and his staff for making it all happen and Glen Tewierik at Canson for his company's great support.

The on-the-ground logistics were organised by David Glazebrook who lives at the base of the Blue Mountains and was ideally suited for the job with his inside knowledge of some great locations. This one I had never visited before, although it looks over Govetts Creek and the Grose River like many other lookouts.

In the back of my mind is a database of images and styles that I like. One that sits there is a finely detailed patina of trees and branches, with a dark background and edges etched nearly paper white. I'm still trying to capture the perfect example, so when I found myself looking out over this scene, I knew what I wanted to achieve immediately.

The photo was taken before sunrise, so the light in the valley is soft and even. In Capture One, I output the file with low contrast, but then in Photoshop I started working more carefully, building up the contrast. This was achieved in two ways, but with many layers. The first approach was to clip the shadows so they were solid black in places. You can see this in the detail above and I did this using curve adjustment layers. The second approach was to use the equivalent of the clarity slider in Lightroom and Capture One to etch the edges of the leaves and branches. I used the High Pass filter with a radius of 1 on a copy layer of the image, blended with linear light.

I've seen photographs of this location covered with a blanket of heavy fog, and while initially I was a little disappointed with the tiny patches of mist hugging the Grose River, I now think it was just right for what I was after. Mind you, I wouldn't mind a little more next time I visit!


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