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David Clapp's trip to the Outer Hebrides - part two

David Clapp shares his love for Luskentyre and a set of sand dunes you have to photograph.

|  Landscape and Travel
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I thought I would feature this whole post on Luskentyre, a set of incredible sand dunes that reeled me in again and again. The beach you see in the first image is Seilebost and I am sat here in 'The Auditorium' as I named it. The gently dropping tiers of dunes feel like you are sat in a theatre, in anticipation of a dramatic finale. The Auditorium has it all; beautiful shapes, delicate colours, miles of endless light sands and the best thing of all - coastal mountains.

Note: Before I discuss these images technically, I want to say something about the horizons - they are not distorting, neither do they need straightening even though it appears so. The coast line is coming towards the camera on a slight angle, so please bare this in mind.

The Auditorium
The Auditorium, - 1DS Mk III, 17-40mm f/4L, f/11 for 5secs, ISO100 using a 0.9ND Grad.

The Auditorium I
I am starting at the end. This wonderful and subtle display of lighting has been processed entirely in LAB mode to ensure subtle colours are retained throughout. If you haven't started using this mode then I urge you to read up about it and do so, you can help stop the unnecessary rendition for super saturated landscapes.

Some times all LAB does is make the image look worse. Other times like this one, splitting the colour channels away from the luminosity channels means a whole myriad of unusual alterations can be performed without effecting the delicacy of the colours.

Luskentyre Dunes on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
The Auditorium II- Canon 17-40mm f/4L, at 21mm f/11 for 1/4th sec, using a 0.9ND Grad ISO100.

The Auditorium II
Here's the realistic render of LAB mode again. This subtle and blustery cold winter sunset was far from colourful. It is as the colours were recorded, the images contrast being the only thing that is altered. I have been heavily inspired by Tristan Campbell's 'Absolutely Nothing' website through the last few years. He's a real hero because he has chosen a tough path, throwing the rules completely in the bin and walking his own path from where we both started, unlike my somewhat commercial imagery.

I have sat for many hours looking at his images of Harris in particular. They are wild and menacing, then abandoned and lonely. He displays a very personal take with his camera, lifting each image aloft with considerate, thoughtful and sometimes painterly processing. I confess, his portfolio of work sowed the seed for this trip. Tristan demonstrates a complete dislike for saturation, rendering colours with stark realism, something that is highly lacking in this modern digital world, something I embraced and something I hope I have captured here.

The Auditorium III, - 1DS Mk III, 17-40mm f/4L at 17mm, f/11, ISO100, 5 shot manual blend.

The Auditorium III and IV
Finally, where the first image in this post began, onto this wonderful golden sunset that slid very quickly into dull grey. I was fairly certain I was in for a spectacular low light display of deep colour, but I got the complete opposite. With the sun literally burning the sensor, no manner of filters could ever hold this intensity back so set the camera to a 5 shot AEB and captured the entire range of light in one click. This is what I love about digital, the marriage of computers and camera at the moment of capture. I am thinking about processing while looking around the viewfinder, even more so walking back to the car.

After the initial combination was assembled in Photomatix or manually blended, the image was then toned to enhance the glorious golds by carefully lifting the marram grass in LAB, but then switching backwards and forwards between LAB and RGB colourspaces, preserving and enhancing along the way.

Luskentyre Dunes on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
1DS Mk III, 17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, ISO100, 5 shot Exposure Fusion unbelievably intense light levels.

A low and super-wide camera angle ensures all the attention starts on the grasses and leads the eye into the scene. I had to pay particular attention to the sky to ensure it balanced correctly.

Keep checking ePHOTOzine for part three of David Clapp's report from the Outer Hebrides.

You can read part one here: David Clapp's report from the Outer Hebrides - part one.

Visit David Clapp's website.


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