Photography Travelogues by Peter Eastway – Antarctica 3/3
September 1, 2011 2 Comments
Skontorp Cove, Paradise Bay, Antarctica
When you visit a location called ‘Paradise Bay’, you have certain expectations. We were having a barbeque outdoors on the lower deck of our ship that evening (something I still think quite strange for an Antarctica voyage), so hopes were high for a clear sky and a wonderful sunset, but it wasn’t to be. As we steamed into Paradise Bay, we could only guess what lay behind the low cloud that shrouded the entire Peninsula.
One of the challenges of transient travel is making the most of the lighting conditions you’re given. We jumped into the zodiacs for a ‘cruise’ around the foreshores and motored slowly into Skontorp Cove, one of the most picturesque locations in Paradise Bay. So I am told! However, while the cloud prevented us from seeing the spectacular mountains surrounding us, it created a very moody and appropriate atmosphere. Sheer cliffs of ice would suddenly collapse into the waters, breaking the absolute quiet, and occasionally we’d see glimpses of ridge lines high above.
And the reflections were marvellous. Not mirror smooth which has a charm of its own, but slightly mottled, like good quality marble. Keeping the camera low on the edge of the zodiac, it was a matter of asking everyone to be as still as possible so as not to create too many ripples on the water. As everyone was sitting in awe of our location, this was a lot easier than you’d expect!
Sometimes with low contrast photographs like these, it’s good to move away from the easy to use Exposure sliders in Capture one and experiment with the Levels and Curves dialogs. In Levels, I grabbed the black and white points and dragged them inwards to the edge of the histogram, and then moved the middle gamma slider to adjust the overall brightness. This improved the image, giving it more contrast, but not quite enough.
Moving down to the Curves dialog, I selected the ‘Mid-tones Darker’ preset which increased the contrast and improved the image even more. Using the Curves presets, you can just drag your mouse over them and watch the effect on the preview, so it’s easy to experiment.
As with most landscape photography, the sky is the brightest area in the scene, so I set the background exposure with this in mind, and then I used the Local Adjustment brush to lighten up the foreground. I clicked on the Local Adjustments tab, clicked the ‘+’ button to add a layer and then pressed ‘B’ to select the Adjustment Brush. After setting its size and softness, I painted in the foreground (shown as the red area in the screen grab above). You can set the red mask to appear only when you’re painting it in, and then it disappears so you can see what your adjustments will do. I lightened the foreground using the Exposure and Contrast sliders.
One trick I have found with snow and ice, especially on overcast days, is to edit the file with local contrast. In Capture One, this is the Clarity control. I added in another Local Adjustment layer, brushed over the ice wall and its reflection, and then dragged the Clarity slider to a setting of 80. This is higher than I am normally comfortable with, but it shows that so often the adjustments we use are dependent on our subject matter. I also used the Exposure slider to lighten up the ice wall.
To see more of Peter Eastway’s images on Antarctica, visit his website at http://www.petereastway.com/showpics.taf?portno=57&PortName=ROCKHOPPER%20EXHIBITION