Friday, 8 March 2013

B&W Freestate Landscapes

In December 2012 my wife, Cheryl, and I went on a four day road trip through the Freestate and Eastern Cape.

We left our home in Centurion, Gauteng early the Saturday morning with the idea that we would motor without stopping until we reached Bloemfontein, the Freestate capital. From there we would take a slower drive until we reached Smithfield, where we would spend the night . . .

Please click on images to enlarge...


 About an hour an a half out from Centurion we hit a huge traffic jam just before the turn off to Parys. It seemed that the cause of the jam was the toll gates. fortunately we hit the jam as we reached the off ramp towards Parys and we took that. I didn't feel like sitting for an hour or so in a traffic jam, after all this was to be an photographic excursion! The change of plan/route meant that we would have to travel the back roads to Bloemfontein.

Somewhere between Wesselsbron & Bultfontein I came across this typical Freestate landscape...It was a very overcast day with intermittent thunderstorms and light rain showers. This part of the Freestate is very flat and we drove for miles and miles through freshly plowed fields. The earth here is almost a bright orange but with the washed out skies I didn't think I was going to get great photographs. In the end, with the huge dynamic range of my cameras sensor and the angry skies, it all turned out ok.

All I did when I got home was to use Lightroom4's  graduated filter and highlight recovery slider to bring back all that 'hidden' details and texture in the highlights. I would then either convert the colour files to B&W via Nik silver Efex or Topaz B&W adjust. I have both these two software programs as plug-ins in LR4 and Photoshop6.

Afterwards I would do some 'burning' & 'dodging' via Photoshop and lastly, again a combination of Topaz Infocus and Photoshop unsharp mask for final sharpening of the photos.

I used just two lenses for these landscapes, my 24mm tilt &Shift and the 40mm Pancake on a Canon 5D2. The pancake was mostly handheld and the Tilt & shift was used on a tripod but also handheld on a few shots. 

The problem with travelling like this is that the distances are far and one doesn't really have time to stop. so instead of hauling out my tripod every time I would just handhold the camera, which is not always ideal especially for landscapes where fine detail rendition is important. By that night we had reached the actual 'beginning' of our journey and then I could slowdown and take my time and haul out the tripod when needed.

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Regards, Ivan


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