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Child of The Sun

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 23 June 2020 in Landscape & Rural.

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Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland is a place that has been on my list to visit for a very long time. I first heard of it when the Australian cricket team went to see it during one of the series in England in the 90's and they had a feature about it on TV. Since then, I have seen many photos that kept my interest up and finally we were able to go there ourselves in September last year. I have seen a few basalt column landscapes in the past, especially in Iceland and also here in Australia, so I was wondering whether it would still live up to my expectations and it did just that and more. Even if some places around the world share similar characteristics, each one is still its own unique location with its own atmosphere and I could definitely feel that here.

It is a popular place and because of that it is not an easy one to photograph at sunset with many people coming down to enjoy the last light of the day. I do not mind other people, we all want to see the beauty that this world has to offer, but I am not a fan of having people in my landscape photos for the simple reason that I like to photograph landscapes as they are in their natural state. There has been an increase in recent times of many photographers including a human element for scale and other reasons and I have usually stayed away from this approach.

In this case, I decided that since I cannot move the people out of the scene, I might just as well see if I can work with them. I was lucky enough for this individual to stand right on the point of one of the basalt causeways for some time in this position and I worked my composition to place the sun directly behind him. I wanted to create a silhouette of the person and also to see if I could get a star burst effect to happen. I was very happy to see that I was able to achieve that result. Even though this will not prompt me to include too many people in future work, at least I know I can get a photo with people in the frame if the conditions are right. I had the title "Child of The Sun" in my mind for some reason as well and that just fitted nicely with the vision that I had for this image.

I have actually removed some people from this scene. It was very busy with people coming and going. That spot in the sun was a particularly popular place and many people were moving around it during the evening. Since I was shooting bracketed exposures anyway to account for the high dynamic range, I took few more frames at my chosen base shutter speed to be able to pick areas free of people to make up the entire scene. Once I matched them all up in Lightroom, I was then able just to do some free hand blending in Photoshop to very quickly clean up the scene. This technique can also be used to remove flare that often accompanies shooting directly into the sun. Next, I worked with my bracketed exposures to bring back detail in the brightest parts of the photo, mainly in the water and in the sky right behind the person. From there I did some general contrast and tone adjustments with dodging and burning to complete the photo.

We were lucky to have been able to spend two evening at this wonderful location and I have some long exposure images to process from Giants Causeway to post in the future. As usual, two days is never enough to fully explore a location to find some unique compositions and this is yet another spot on the ever growing list of places to visit again (not to mention a list of places that we are yet to see). Whether we will be able to do that, only time will tell.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 4/5 seconds F/16.0 ISO 100 20 mm

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