Birth of an image

 

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Yes I know the above photo was already published in another blog post.

I thought it could be a compelling image, explanatory of what you can see and photograph while joining one of my photo tours.

More, the same photo has been also published on this website and on various other photo sharing sites.

But the fact is that I recently got an e-mail from Texas: a student at an IB Art class told me she likes the photo a lot and asked me how was it done.

The student who was so kind to let me know her appreciation for my work already got a private reply.

But while I was writing it, I realised the topic could be interesting for a wider audience: how did I find the location and how did I organize the shoot.

First of all some technical details:

Camera: Pentax K-10

Lens: Sigma Zoom 18-70 @ 22 mm

Exposure: 0,5 sec.

Aperture: f/8

Tripod

3 stops ND filter in order to get more detail in the sky.

When photographing landscapes, the basic rule is to be very very careful about two important d

1)  scouting

2)  timing.

More details here.

Scouting

The photo was shot in Procida, that’s a tiny island in the Gulf of Naples, in Southern Italy.

It was a pleasant April day.

As soon as the ferry from Naples docked, I left my luggage in the hotel and went out looking for the best photo locations.

I usually reserve to scouting the middle part of the day, when the light is harsher and won’t usually let you take any decent shot.

Considering the sun’s path and the view, I spotted all around the small island (you can circle it in 3 hours by walking) a bunch of good viewpoints that would be suitable for photographs at dawn and dusk.

I had planned to spend two days on Procida and that left me with two dusks and one dawn before heading home.

Plenty of time, or not enough time: it depends on your point of view. Anyway this was the given time for me and I had to try to get the best from it

Timing

The first evening I moved to the terrace of a restaurant that was closed at that time of the year; it overlooks the colourful harbour called “La Corricella”.

The terrace is oriented straight to the west and I had to wait until the sun was down behind the buildings.

At that time the city lights where already lit and we were in the middle of the blue hour, with a nice soft light; but I still needed a 3 stops graduated filter in order to compensate the sky luminosity.

 

The camera was mounted on a sturdy tripod and I spot metered on the wall of the white building with an arch on the right side of the image. ISO was set at 200 (the lowest value in the camera I was using at the time): having a tripod I had no troubles with long exposure times even if a too long exposure would have blurred the boats gently moving on the calm sea water.

The camera was tilted to give the image more dynamicity.

The post production was pretty basic.

No colour cast correction was applied in order to keep the delicate and warm tones of the light and the hues in the sky.

Different curves were applied with the appropriate masks in order to compensate better the bright sky with the buildings and the dark water.

Personally I’m pleased with the result but have a doubt about the lamppost you can see below on the left, almost as it is floating in the water.

It disturbs me in some way but I tried to clone it away in post production and the result was for me even worse, because without  the lamppost, the left corner of the image remains in a blueish darkness with no detail at all.

You can experiment by yourself: hide or clone out the lamppost and look at the result: how do you like the new image?

 

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