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Guiding Light

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 23 June 2021 in Landscape & Rural.


We witnessed some dramatic light and stunning views in the Faroe Islands. This is a road along the coast of Bordoy island with the cliffs of Vidoy rising steeply into the clouds on the other side of Hvannasund. We were chased by some dark clouds and incoming rain but there were still breaks and interesting light ahead of us, which prompted me to stop and take this photo. There was no one else around so we had lots of time to drive slowly to take in the views and look for photographic opportunities. It was very quiet away from the main roads when we visited and that made a nice break from the busy paths of Iceland.

This was just a lovely simple composition with the road leading in towards the bright light hiding around the corner. It was really great to get some very dynamic light conditions in the Faroes. Fast moving clouds allowed for a break or two for sunlight to come through, if one was patient enough to wait for these moments. The steep nature of the islands helped to get some beautiful side light hitting the cliffs and to create great spotlights in gloomy conditions.

There is a difference between how the camera sees a scene and how you see the scene when you take a photo, depending on the dynamic range, light and settings used for each photo. I shoot in RAW format to get maximum flexibility when working on images in post processing. It does not mean that everyone has to but I enjoy putting my artistic vision on the photos I take and shooting RAW gives me the best base for further photo development.

In misty, overcast and dark conditions, RAW output can often be very underwhelming with the imported file looking very flat in terms of both brightness and colours. I use a "neutral" scene profile on my camera with most of the settings, such as brightness, contrast and saturation, dialled down so that the resulting JPG image on the screen will give me a more accurate idea of what the raw file will look like.

Because of the clouds and subdued light, this image was very dull when I first downloaded it. It did, however, have the entire dynamic range in one frame with highlights and shadows kept away form the edges of the histogram. That allowed me to work on it in post processing to bring out the contrast, tones and detail to get a result that reflects how I remember the moment.

Most of my adjustments involved using dodging and burning to shape the light present in the scene and using curves to enhance tonal contrast in different parts of the image. I also used hue and saturation to bring out colours in the areas where they were particularly flat and de-saturated. That was mainly in the cliff on the other side because the slight mist and drizzle disguised the autumn tones that I could see in real life. I finished the image with a little bit of colour grading and vignette, which are now standard steps in my processing workflow.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 1/640 second F/2.8 ISO 200 70 mm

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