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Inner Peace

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 11 April 2020 in Landscape & Rural.


During our travels last year, I was able to briefly return to a place of some of my great childhood memories - Beskid Slaski Mountains in southern Poland. The mountains are not very high, almost rolling hills type of a landscape, but they are very picturesque and located in the range is the source of Poland's longest river Vistula. The river begins as two small streams - White and Black Vistula. White Vistula has a bit more interest, as it flows down a steep mountain side before settling into a semi-artificial canal that is covered by lush vegetation during summer months. There is a number of natural and artificial waterfalls and often we found that even the artificial ones were being reclaimed by nature over the years. The location in this photo is one such instance.

We were able to find many great spots and descended to the stream and walked on the rocky river bed to find interesting compositions. We were taking photos in the middle of the day, so not in ideal photography conditions, however, there were clouds floating about and as long as we were willing to be patient enough, we were able to get some of the softer more diffused light that suited this landscape. We were able to avoid the harsh sunlight filtering through the foliage and creating blown our highlights on the leaves and in the water. This particular spot also allowed the light coming through the opening in the trees to create good depth in the scene.

When I started processing I was still not one hundred percent convinced about this composition but after removing two or three small stray branches and few other little bright spots I ended up liking it a lot more. Post processing work involved mostly dodging and burning to emphasise the light coming over the waterfall, the foliage in the trees and along the side of the stream. The second part of processing involved working on the green tones in the scene. I noticed that often in my photos the greens were ending up oversaturated almost toxic like in luminescence and colour. Good for a sci-fi movie but not really great for landscape photography.

I looked on the internet for various tutorials on how to get more natural looking green tones and completely re-engineered my approach to processing colour in Lightroom and Photoshop. I ended up removing a lot of saturation from green and yellow tones using the HSL sliders and Camera Calibration in Lightroom. I also worked a little bit on the hue of these tones, while making fine tune adjustments to other colours if required. I feel that it resulted in much more natural overall feel to the scene. The dilemma I had here was whether to keep natural summer warmth in the foliage tones or whether to go for cooler colour temperature. I had to work out a fine balance which reflected that the photo was indeed taken in the middle of a day in summer but without pushing the yellows into nuclear radiation zone. I think I will go back and re-work a number of my photos with predominantly green tones and foliage.

Another reason that I like the photo is that this scene gives me a fantastic feeling of inner peace and tranquillity. It is much more personal to me that just a photo. As I mentioned, it brings back memories of my childhood when I walked the paths in Beskid Mountains with family every summer until we left for Australia. It brings back the innocence and blissful ignorance of youth. It brings back the beauty of this place that I was able to experience once again last year with my partner and my family during our getaway. Looking at the photo, I can feel the fresh mountain air, the sunlight, the smell of summer, I can hear the sound the the stream and the waterfall. Especially now, these sensations are even more relevant during time of isolation and I am happy to be sharing them with you.

I hope that you are all staying well and safe, and that you have a good Easter, as much as it is possible in this testing period of time.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 15 second F/11.0 ISO 100 27 mm

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