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Friday, January 13, 2006

It's the end of the world as we know it

Nikon D70 @ 18mm, 493.4 secs, f/3.5, ISO 200

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Help, we're under attack! It was like a scene from Independence Day - the skies were glowing red from the flames of the burning cities in the distance. I managed to capture some of the aliens' bombs as they hurled towards earth. Luckily I had my wooden hut to save me.

Ok, so perhaps I'm exaggerating slightly here...

I took this shot over New Year while I was staying beside Loch Coldingham. As I explained in this previous post the stars were absolutely spectacular one night, so I just had to go out and take photographs. I had seen this hut and trees the previous day and thought they would make nice additions to a star trail shot. So I set up my tripod and started taking short 30 second exposures, trying to get my composition right. Because it was pitch black I had to rely on the previews displayed on my LCD to compose the shots, tweaking the position of my tripod slightly after each one.

As you can imagine this took quite a while, and before I knew it I looked up only to discover that the stars had disappeared! A huge cloud had come out of nowhere and obstructed my view of the stars. Disaster, I thought. I took another shot anyway, to see if it was at all salvageable. Then appeared an incredibly bright sky - it was the glow from the lights of a nearby farm. Perhaps this would work after all.

Now, I had a nice colourful sky, but a black foreground. I had anticipated this and so had my SB-800 flashlight with me. I was able to trip the shutter with my remote, walk up to the hut and trees and manually fire the flash about 15 times or so. The thing about this method is that you have to watch where you stand - if you're standing in between the object you're flashing (oi, behave!) and the camera then you will appear as a silhouette. And that explains the faint figure standing on the left hand side of the hut - that's my shadow!

I also think that the cool colour temperature of the light from my flash helped exaggerate the warm temperature of the sky. I liked the effect so much that I altered the hue of the sky ever so slightly so that it appeared a little redder. Very little post processing was done apart from that.

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing your comments on this one, as I have a feeling it may attract divided opinions. Does it work for you?


Anonymous KJM said...

The overall effect is nice, and sounds like an entertaining way to take photos! My only criticism would be that the foreground lighting of the hut from your flash is a little harsh - perhaps you used a couple of flashes too many?

12:29 pm, January 13, 2006  
Blogger John said...

Thanks for the comments kjm. I was wanting the hut to figure as a prominent foreground object, so I wonder if it would lose its impact if it was any darker. I could certainly darken it in PP anyway, as it is exposed correctly. Yeah, it's an entertaining method, so long as you've got a couple of friends for protection! :)

2:05 pm, January 13, 2006  
Anonymous Otto K (lenscape) said...

Very cool image. Good luck in the BoB.

3:35 pm, January 13, 2006  
Blogger Kitty Velour, PlanetPassion.co.uk said...

This is just a great shot. Took a lot of work by the sound of it - but it was worth it. Love the way you lighted the hut - got to try that myself some day soon.

4:24 pm, January 13, 2006  
Anonymous Dougie said...

Thats a great shot John love the red sky very vivid . Fingers crossed for the BoB John and i'll let you know how i get on up at Ronnoch Moor just hope the weathers ok .


5:16 pm, January 13, 2006  
Anonymous steveo said...

Cool, i have never seen a night sky that colour before, i will definaely have to go do some more night shots soon.

5:40 pm, January 13, 2006  
Blogger Imacx said...

Hi John, just found your site and I have to say the photography is fantastic to the fact that it even made me have a bash at landscapes for the first time this christmas, not as easy as it looks I am finding out. I am using your images as the benchmark....outstanding work.

10:55 am, January 14, 2006  
Blogger andrea said...

John -- had to drop in and see who's getting all the votes in this BoB category. This is a really amazing photo. Nice work.

4:09 pm, January 14, 2006  
Anonymous Phil said...

Excellent shot. THe gradual red to orange glowing sky is brillant!

1:13 am, January 16, 2006  
Anonymous andy said...

Great image. I love the deep color. I can't help but feel that the lighted house is distracting from the dramatic sky. But, nonetheless, well done.

3:21 pm, January 16, 2006  
Blogger ShutteredEye said...

Very interesting for sure!!

5:40 pm, January 19, 2006  

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