Monday, 30 January 2012

Karoo Cloud Landscapes...

at 1000, 985 and 979km's...

The stretch of road between the Gariep dam to Philippolis via Colesberg, was uneventful. We were tired and hot and bothered and just wanted to get to Philippolis for a rest. We stopped anyway because we found some great cloudscapes and the landscape was really desolate with  fine yellow grass on either side of the road as far as the eye could see.


























Ansel Adams talks about 'visualization', that is to look at a landscape and 'see' in ones mind what the final print will look like. Because he used film it was important to do that because already at the 'capture' or exposure stage he had to make technical decisions to be able to achieve in the final print his 'visualization'. Things like filters to darken a blue sky and under or over exposure that would be complemented by a over or under development to control the contrast of the film in the darkroom.

click on images to enlarge...










With digital, 'visualization' is, IMO, not that critical because with digital one has so much more control over the digital file that 'visualization' is not really necessary at the shooting stage. Visualization of course helps in the post processing of the digital file because there we have to decide on the look of the final image and the relative values of each part of the scene and how they relate to each other. Do we want to strive for a full tone 'natural' looking scene or a more dramatic or even over the top 'unreal' rendering of the digital file. This is of course dependant on our style and our vision of the world...

At the time of making these images I must confess I didn't do much 'visualization'. I simply looked for a pleasing balance of all the elements in the viewfinder, which was mostly grass, fence, telephone pole, mountains and cloud. The heat was quite unbearable and the airconditioned car beckoned. I call these photographs 'clouds scapes' because the clouds are really the dominating element in the photographs. Its quite difficult to photograph clouds because sometimes they move and change quickly. In the days of film I often found that by the time I had set up my camera, framed the scene, taken my exposure readings and loaded my dark slides the cloud had changed so much that many times I wouldn't even make an exposure...

Here I use two cameras, both handheld, a Mamiya ZD ( last two horizontal images ) and a Leica X1. After converting the raw images with Lightroom3 into tiff files I used Nik Silver Efex2 to convert to B&W. In Photoshop I used the dodge and burn tool, just like in the days of film, to darken the blue sky gently stroke by stroke until I had achieved my 'visualization'.

In South Africa the light is very very harsh and contrasty. The conventional wisdom is to photograph when the light is softer, which is early morning and late afternoon. I quite like doing photography at the 'wrong' time because I believe the harsh light is part of our landscape and that we should show it like it is...




Finally, I had some difficulty in deciding how black and dramatic I should make the sky and I have not yet made up my mind, wether the images shown here are the final versions....

regards, Ivan