Soft Light Landscape

Exercise 1.9 involved taking photos of a suitable city or landscape either just after sunset, just before sunrise or when the sky was overcast. The aim being to make use of diffuse light.

So first things first. I didn’t follow the brief exactly. Where the exercise asked that we bracket the exposures using the shutter speed I missed that fact. In the end each of the shots I took was correctly exposed according to the lightmeter on my camera. Changing the proportions of sky and ground that were in the photograph automatically resulted in a change of shutter speed due to the light levels that were being detected.

Some of the photos required me to use the Bulb setting, which was a bit more challenging as it meant guessing how long to leave the shutter for. Never having used the Bulb function on my camera it took a bit of trial and error to figure out that I needed to press the button on my camera remote once to open the shutter and a second time to close it. Holding the button down apparently has no effect.

Second, both of the shoots I did involved making my way to open countryside. The sunset shoot was in a country park a couple of miles away from where I live. the views of a local village and open countryside were well worth the trip but there was the problem of being on your own with expensive camera equipment. Fortunately, there were 3 couples within shouting distance of where I was taking photos so it was reasonably safe. The walk to and from the car was a bit more unsettling because there wasn’t really anyone around at some points.

The sunrise shoot was a very lonely affair. Even though I wasn’t very far from civilisation I was at the top of a hill with only a herd of cows for company. Although I am convinced that one of them was a vampire cow because it didn’t show up on a photograph I took of them, the long exposure time should have meant I got a blurred image as it walked slowly from the herd to the edge of the field but I got nothing. The only person I saw was someone out walking their dogs as I was heading back to the car.

I have to admit that doing both shoots really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done gone out at night, and certainly not a 5am in order to take photos. It was definitely an experience and showed that to get the photographs we really want we have to accept that sometimes that means unsociable hours.

Of the two shoots I think I preferred the sunrise one. It was nice to be able to enjoy the tranquillity, broken only by the sound of the occasional car, train and recycling lorry. The opportunity to just be able to sit and look at the surrounding countryside and notice things I wouldn’t have had the chance to see normally was quite nice.

MDG_3120 with shadows and highlights layer
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (Shadow and Highlight adjusted)

Of the photographs I took at Ham Hill this is the one I liked the most because there was so much going on and so much to see. The more you look at the photograph the more you spot.

The original photograph was well exposed and as a result the car headlights became streams of light. The colour balance is fairly close to what I remember from the evening as it was quite dark.

I don’t think that there are any major distractions in the photo. I think the contrast between the ground area and the sky is perfect but there could have been a bit more contract between the buildings and the surrounding vegetation.


MDG_3120 with shadows and highlights layer version 2
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (Shadow and Highlight adjusted further)


The image above was the result of making adjustments to the mid-tones. I feel that the adjustments have made the image look like it was taken during daytime rather than after sunset. With the bright sky, the street and car lights do contradict what appears to be a sunny day.


Ham Hill to Stoke Sub Hambdon B&W-3120
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (converted to black and white in Lightroom)


I love black and white images. When it’s a landscape it gives it a timeless quality that, unless there are signs giving away the time period, means you could be looking at something from anytime in the last 100 years. I’m reminded of some of the photographs I’ve seen of the mining towns in the South Wales valleys where I grew up.


MDG_3130 with shadow and highlight layer
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (shadow and highlight adjusted)


Wyndham Hill is on the edge of Yeovil. On three sides it is surrounded by the town, to the south is countryside. There were so many different views to photograph.

I think the trees in the mid ground are a bit of a distraction because they hide a lot of the cityscape, however, where they dip leads the eye towards the dual carriageway which curves up and away to the left.

I think the colour balance in the image I’m more happy with than where I’ve adjusted it further.


MDG_3130 with shadow and highlight layer version 2
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (shadow and highlight further adjusted)


Again, adjusting the mid tones, lightens the image and makes it appear more like it was captured later in the day.


Wyndham Hill To Yeovil B&W-3130
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (converted to black and white in Lightroom)


I thought I’d see what this looked like in black and white.  Unlike the Ham Hill photo I don’t think it really works. Having a large part of the image filled by grass and trees the buildings are swamped.

Below are the contact sheets with all of the photos I took for this exercise. Interestingly Lightroom has truncated the captions, however, everything was shot at f/22.


Project 2 Exercises-1
Contact Sheet of all photographs for exercise




Project 2 Exercises-2
Second Contact Sheet of photographs for exercise










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