July 09, 2017

The Cabin, Middlehurst Station, New Zealand
Phase One A-Series 100MP, 23mm Alpagon, 1/10 second @ f5.6, ISO 50


After our Middlehurst Photo Art workshop last year, we shot (err, photographed) sheep again this year, but I haven't processed the blurred shots as yet. However, what we did discover was this wonderful old shack.


We arrived just on dusk while doing a quick reccy of the east part of the station (it took three hours). Willy and Sue, the station owners, take turns to drive us around as neither Tony nor I are up to the task of navigating the changing river beds and narrow tracks. In fact, we stand up the back of the ute (our photography guests are warm inside) and marvel at how deftly the locals drive their vehicles. Lots of experience.


While the photographers were busy exploring the area around the shack, Willie grabbed his dog and practiced his own art. Now, I'm not quite sure what you call sheep herding with sheep dogs, but the way the dogs control the sheep and respond to Willy's instructions is amazing.


I noticed Willy herding a half a dozen sheep around and asked if he could place them in front of the shack. At the time, I couldn't get quite the wide-angle composition I wanted because of an overhanging tree (just out of frame), but looking at my frames now, I'm quite happy with the composition. Just maybe I should pick up the lone dog and move him a little further to the left?


Here's my Photoshop tip:


Even at this hour, the sky was significantly brighter than the foreground. To solve this little challenge, I processed the file out of Capture One and loaded it into Photoshop. I then used the ADPpanel+Pro to select the highlight tones in the sky (this is a luminosity masking plugin), and adjusted the resulting mask a little manually. This allowed me to darken down the sky along the horizon.


You'll find the ADPpanel+Pro at

This approach works really well, but when you have little bits of scrub and bushes along the horizon line, there are always little problem areas where the mask doesn't travel. They appear as white halo lines. My solution is to flatten the image (or copy up all the layers to a new layer) and use the healing brush, set to Darken blend mode. In this example, I sample the sky (which is lighter than the mountain) and then with a small brush size, paint over the white areas. Because the blend mode is set to darken, the brush doesn't touch the mountainside, only the white haloes.


Our Middlehurst workshop for 2018 appears to be fully booked, but if you would like to be waitlisted or put on the list for 2019, please touch base with Kim at [email protected]. We are just finalizing the details for 2019 now and are thinking about July so there's a bit more snow - maybe!


Another view of The Cabin, Middlehurst Station, New Zealand
Phase One A-Series 100MP, 23mm Alpagon, 1/4 second @ f5.6, ISO 50


The River next to The Cabin, Middlehurst Station, New Zealand
Phase One A-Series 100MP, 23mm Alpagon, 1/15 second @ f5.6, ISO 50


And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have places left on trips going to Canada, SW USA, Bhutan and Antarctica. Full details on the Better Photography website!