The shot I almost didn’t take, Elgol, Scotland
October 4, 2012 6 Comments
Travelling with fellow photographer David Oliver, he wanted to find a stretch of stony beach at Elgol because the surrounding cliffs looked pretty interesting. I was working on a calendar project, so I was also keen, but I wasn’t convinced the weather would be dramatic enough for what I had in mind.
As it turns out, the shot I had in mind wasn’t the photo that I loved. Even more remarkable, I almost didn’t take it!
Elgol is on the Isle of Skye and, being mid-winter, there were very few people around – just the locals and some road workers. As we came into tiny Elgol, the road down to the beach and harbour was blocked by a couple of large trucks effecting maintenance works. There was no way to get around the truck and the workers didn’t seem to be moving anytime soon.
We did what all experienced photographers do and retired to a local café a few hundred metres up the hill. I can remember the wonderful pumpkin soup and the steaming scones and jam, polished off with a cup of tea. It was hard to move back out into the Scottish cold and the weather looked like it was closing in. We wondered if we would even bother going down to the beach.
But something inside us said we should, just in case. After all, we’d come all this way, the food was good, so who knows what we might find!
The photo we had in mind was good, but the breakwater creating a tiny harbour looked more interesting. Walking out to the end of it, I had a great view looking back onto the beach with its small school (it’s not visible in my image). What a great place to be educated!
The breakwater also revealed some grassy fields above the cliffs and movement in the distant clouds was creating some interesting light. This seemed to be the better photograph!
To get the milky water, I used a 4.0 Neutral Density with the 28mm Phase One lens, allowing a 30 second exposure. The 28mm has a very large front element, so it’s not easy to put a filter in front. Instead, there’s a small holder in the back of the lens which takes gelatine filters. Now, gelatine filters are okay, but the 4.0 ND has a slight colour cast to it as you can see in the original file.
From here I used the Local Adjustment layers – I love this aspect of Capture One. The first step was to darken down the sky because it is a little bright in the original. Our eyes tend to go to the light parts of the image first, but I didn’t want them to go straight to the sky. Solution: darken it down a tad.
Next I added another Local Adjustment and this time used the Advanced Color Editor to add some blue into the sea. Never mind the sky is still grey, I wanted a blue sea. I know this doesn’t look completely real and I am happy with that.
To take the eye towards the cliffs, I used another Local Adjustment and, again using the Advanced Color Editor, tweaked the grasses. I gave them additional color saturation and contrast. Now the photo looks a little closer to the holiday brochures we had seen!
And for the final image (shown at the beginning of the blog), I added a fourth Local Adjustment, and with a quite large brush dragged it through the middle of the image and lightened this area. It gives the image a little more life by lightening up the middle – where I want the eye to travel.
So, for someone who had eaten too much for lunch, it turned out to be a productive afternoon. No, the photo didn’t run in the calendar, but it was one provided to the client for their short list. No accounting for taste, of course!
Peter Eastway is a professional photographer and photography magazine editor based in Sydney, Australia. To see more of his photography, visit http://www.petereastway.com. Peter also offers an online Landscape Photography MasterClass. Details can be found at http://www.betterphotography.com.