Photo of the Day: Organic Curves, Lines and Dynamic Range

Lines and Curves

Sony A7RII : f8@400th : ISO 320 : EV -0.7 : FE 90mm f/2.8

This is another photo from my enjoyable and rewarding wanderings round Mendoza in Argentina. As I was walking through the park, I noticed the organic curves of the trees’ foliage acting as an interesting counterpoint to the straight lines of the building in the background. I liked the amount of detail that was visible throughout the image but was concerned about the dynamic range required. There was a lot of shadow areas on the underside of the trees and the highlights in the building and the sky were pretty high. I underexposed by two thirds of a stop, knowing that I would be able to push cleanly out of the shadows in post.

If you are thinking that there’s a slightly unnatural HDR feel to this image, that would be because I have left it like that on purpose after working on it in Capture One and Photoshop. I wanted to emphasise that I have managed to hold all the details quite easily on the raw file and have been able to bring them back with just a quick tweak of the ‘Highlight’ and ‘Shadow’ sliders. When you overdo this, you can end up with an image that can look a little flat but you just need to view this stage as a good starting point. From here, you’d maybe add a little more contrast in the greens, take the whites and blues in the sky a little closer to the upper limits, saturate the colours on the building a little more to emphasise the difference between the square boxes and the organic ‘freeform’ of the trees…

Before processing the image in Capture One, I used the Colour Balance tool in the Shadows, Midtowns, and Highlights, mainly to tone down the greens, which I have a personal thing against in most images with greenery and tend to always reduce. I think it’s because the bright green seems to often take over a picture and demand too much attention. There are times when this can be a good thing… And, because I was much closer to the ground than to the tops of the trees and the building, I also used the Keystone tool to ‘correct’ the perspective and straighten the lines of the building. All very quick and painless.

For me, this shot perfectly encapsulates the benefits of the Sony A7R2, with the sensor not just giving you all that resolution but also incredible dynamic range. Add to that how the in-built image stabilisation (IBIS) and the 90mm lens’ stabilisation work together to allow you to render all that resolution even when hand holding, it still amazes me.

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