Photography Travelogues by Peter Eastway – Karijini National Park 1/3
June 6, 2011 5 Comments
In the coming weeks, landscape photographer Peter Eastway will share his passion and knowledge about photography with the readers of the Image Quality Professor’s blog. Peter will take us with him through his recent photographic experiences in Karijini National Park. He will write about his preparations, what gear he uses and finally how he uses Capture One to get the best out of this photos.
Karijini National Park is one of Australia’s largest national parks, and arguably one of the most spectacular. The park is famous for its sheer gorges, waterfalls, cool swimming holes and amazing photographic opportunities.
Hancock Gorge, Karijini, Western Australia
Some places are simply difficult to get to, but the effort is worth it.
Carved out of the iron-rich stone of the Pilbara region in Western Australia, Hancock Gorge lies hidden in Karijini National Park. Leaving the dry heat of the surrounding desert, the trail to this tapering cascade starts with a steep descent down a rough bush track, followed by a rickety steel ladder. This brings you to the bottom of the gorge and from here it’s a further kilometre of rock-hopping, scrambling and swimming to get into position. The most difficult section is a crab-walk along a 200 metre rock wall, its near vertical sides punctuated by narrow, uneven ledges. It would be quite fun without 20 kilograms of camera gear on your back, a large tripod and just one spare hand.
Shoes are off for the last stretch down the narrow Spiders Trail, the cool water rushing around your feet, your legs pushed out to the sides of the cutting for balance, before opening up into a beautiful swimming pool and the cascade at the far end.
Of course, for many people, getting down into Hancock Gorge is a stroll in the park. If you’re fit and active, it’s not a problem, but you need to be careful. Every year there seem to be a few walkers who are seriously hurt or even killed because they didn’t watch their steps carefully enough.
Each time I visit Hancock’s Gorge, it’s different. The time of day and cloud cover affect the way the light bounces off the gorge’s walls, creating different colours and reflections. And rain followed by flash-floods re-arrange the large rocks and boulders strewn along the gorge’s floor.
However, one thing that remains the same is the sense of tranquillity I have as I set up my camera. There’s no need to rush as the light won’t change too quickly. Tripod legs can be spread across the watercourse and the camera pointed down. Generally speaking, a wide-angle is useful for tight locations like this, but maybe not as wide as you think.
As you can see by referring to the original image above, I ended up cropping this photo, choosing a square format so I could centre the water cascading over the stone steps. I also tilted the frame so the image looks level. I actually think the camera was perfectly level when I took the frame, but when I cropped the image, it looked too angled, so I used the Rotate Freehand tool to make it look visually correct. This left a sliver of image missing in the bottom right corner, but this would be easily fixed after processing out the raw file using Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill feature.
After cropping, I have used my Quick tab in Capture One Pro 6 to set the exposure, contrast and colour saturation accurately for the entire image, except the bright flowing water in the centre. When you’re sitting in this position, you’re keenly aware of the colours in the rock, but they don’t always translate onto the sensor because of the cool, blue skylight illuminating the scene. Capture One Pro 6’s Advanced Colour editor let me select the yellows and blues in the rock and give them a little extra saturation.
I also remember seeing the pools down the bottom of the gorge as being iridescent green – they certainly are when the sun is striking them directly in the middle of the day, so I decided this needed to be corrected as well. This meant I had two areas in the image – the flowing water and the distant pools – which needed local adjustments. This is where Capture One Pro 6 really shines!
I add a Local Adjustment layer and worked on the flowing water first. When you use the Local Adjustment brush, you can control the area you want to change by adjusting the size of the brush and the edge of the brush (whether it is ‘hard’ or ‘soft’). This means you can be as accurate as you need to be, but I’m a bit lazy and prefer when I can to use larger brushes with a soft edge. This lets me feather the local adjustments into the image, so you can’t easily see where the adjustment begins and ends. I like to think of this as ‘invisible editing’ – you know I’ve done something, but you can’t really tell where!
To control the water which was overexposed, I found that darkening it made the image look a bit muddy, so I also increased the contrast setting. This rescued some of the detail in the rocks below the running water, while maintaining some white highlights and sparkle.
For the distant pools, I added a second Local Adjustment layer and using a small brush with a hard edge (around setting 80), I carefully selected the two small pools. I then used the Advance Colour Editor to change the golden yellow colour to a more ‘accurate’ green.
Hancock Gorge is a place you never tire of and I can still see some angles I have yet to try.
To see more of Peter Eastway’s photography techniques, including his Landscape Photography MasterClass, please visit http://www.betterphotography.com/.