Boab Tree, Wireless Station ruins, near Wyndham, Kimberley.
Phase One A-Series IQ3 100MP, Rodenstock Alpa HR Alpagon f5.6 23mm, 46 seconds @ f8, ISO 50
Light is everything. I wandered past this boab (from the other side) a couple of times earlier in the afternoon, noticing the unusual twin-trunk structure. It was a tree with potential, but at that stage of the day, the sun was still high in the sky and the location appeared incredibly busy. There was too much going on.
I was on a PODAS - a Phase One Digital Artist Series workshop - with Christian Fletcher, Tony Hewitt, Bruce Pottinger and Drew Altdoerffer (from Phase One), and 16 keen photographers who were kitted out with the latest Phase One medium format equipment for the week.
After sunset as I walked back along the track to the cars, I noticed Bruce Pottinger set up near this tree. And it was positively glowing! The challenge was to isolate it sufficiently within what was still a complex and busy landscape. One way is to stand back and use a telephoto lens, which probably would have been the polite thing to do given Bruce was shooting. Another option is to use a wide-angle lens and get in very close to your subject. I applied the latter logic on this occasion. Sorry, Bruce!
The evening was absolutely perfect with a feathering of clouds to break up a large blue sky. In May, 'they' say you are almost guaranteed blue skies every day, but this year the weather was a little mixed up, not just in Kununurra, but around the world it seems. However, photographers usually shy away from clear blue skies because they lack interest, but did I really want clouds in this photograph?
Mangrove Roots, Orpheus Island, 2009.
Phase One 645AF, P45+ back, 28mm lens, 15 seconds @ f16, ISO 50
I was up to my knees in warm salt water, but I wasn't complaining. I also think that's why many people from the southern latitudes of Australia visit Orpheus Island in winter and if, following the chilly weather we've been having lately, you're in need of a warm respite, now would be a good time to book a trip to Orpheus Island in Far North Queensland.
There are two options. One is a six star resort which is out of my price bracket (champagne tastes, beer budget), the other is the experience of your photography life at the James Cook University research station on the other end of the island. However, while the location is fantastic, the real attraction has to be three of Australia's best photographers and photographic educators ever. Dr Les Walking is joined by Dr Vicki Cooper and Dr Doug Spowart. I'm pretty sure Vicki and Doug are both doctors, maybe they're professors or something else as well, but I get lost after an ordinary degree!
Les has been presenting his Orpheus Island printing workshop for eleven years along with John and Pam de Rooy. And after my presentation with Les in the Daintree last month, I said I'd mention his printing workshop in my newsletter - and hence the photograph above.
For more details about the Orpheus Island Photography Workshop, visit http://www.leswalkling.com/courses/orpheus-2016/.
Shooting the photograph, I was knee deep in salt water as the tide came in. It was taken only a stone's throw from the research station with a wide-angle lens and a long shutter speed of 15 seconds to blur the water.
To lighten up the tree roots as though they were catching the light from the sunset, I used a channel mask which picked out the light that was already striking the top of the mangrove roots and then, using a curves adjustment layer, lightened them up. It was easier than using a brush and carefully picking out the roots because all the hard work had been done by the channel. This is one aspect of Photoshop that can't easily be replicated in Lightroom or Capture One, but admittedly it takes a little more practice to achieve as well.
So, do you like the pink light catching the tops of the tree roots - or would you prefer them to look like steely-white moon light? Have a look here...
I'm just back from an incredible Phase One PODAS workshop in Kununurra where, at this time of the year, it is usual to have cloudless blue skies. And while cloudless blue is great for travel brochures, it isn't what I had in mind. In fact, I was getting ready to strip in some clouds if necessary. But how do you do it?
First, it's not easy to drop a new sky into every landscape. In the example above of Ani in Eastern Turkey, I have specially selected it as a training example simply because it has an easy sky! However, if you have a complicated horizon line with lots of irregularly shaped trees, it can be a nightmare to drop in a sky properly.
Second, and most importantly ...
The latest printed issue of Better Photography magazine is not far away and will be posted soon. It will also be on sale in the newsagents. However, for online digital subscribers, you can login and download the magazine right now!
Issue 84 content includes:
Photographed on the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II in the Daintree at ISO 3200. Just switch the camera to auto ISO and let it run!
As we head towards the Olympics, sport photographers will be pushing their new Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II bodies to new limits. Both cameras have dramatically lifted their ISO settings higher, so when Canon dropped its Mark II body down for testing, I was intrigued to see how far it would go.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
As you will see on the accompanying photos, the results are quite remarkable. Yes, I am starting my comparison from a 'film' base when (in the old days) shooting higher than ISO 100 was a real treat, so to see ISO 6400 files which are almost as clear and clean as ISO 100 is an amazing feat. To push the files even further to ISO 51,200 is simply wild.
What do you think of these files, purposely shot in stress lighting conditions?
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II - ISO 51,200
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II - ISO 6400
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II - ISO 100
Okay, I showed the ISO 51,200 first because, at this size it is very acceptable. As you look closer, the ISO 100 file has less contrast and is smoother (but not just because it's a 1.3 second exposure).
But most photographs taken at the Olympics will be shown online, on screens. Few will be printed to massive sizes. But still I want to know: what does ISO 51,200 look like up close and personal? In good lighting conditions, the files are remarkably clean. You wouldn't notice it was shot at such a high ISO setting, but in low light conditions - how does it fare?
These are the enlarged files: