Over the last few weeks my daughter has been watching all of the Harry Potter movies since she finally finished up all seven of the Harry Potter books. I watched the movie series with her and was inspired by the very dark visuals they used, especially in the last few films. I knew that I wanted to try this same visual approach on a few of my landscape photographs, so set about looking for an appropriate image to try it on.
A few years ago I was down in Utah photographing in Kodachrome Basin State Park. We just finished up a week of photography at Zion and Bryce National Parks, and were ending our trip shooting some lesser known areas.
The morning of this shot, I had just completed photographing a very large panorama of a mesa at Kodachrome, and decided to try and find something a little bit more obscure off the beaten path. I spotted this arresting spire and looked around the ground for an interesting element that might provide a visual anchor for the foreground. After a short search, I found these two weathered tree branches resting on the ground and pointed up towards the spire. I found it quite interesting that the branches formed the same general shape as the spire, so I worked my composition increase the feeling of repetition.
For this image I used a Nikon D7000 and a 10-24mm wide angle lens that I was testing out from Tamron Corporation. Since the foreground was in deep shadow and the spire was in the sun, I use a three frame bracketed exposure sequence, which I then converted to an HDR in Nik HDR Efex Pro 2. I used one of the black and white presets in Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 to give it the dark and heavy look I was after. My next step was to open the image in Adobe Lightroom 5 to fix the dust spots and add a graduated filter to the top portion of the image.
I’m happy with the dark look I achieved for the spire and use it again for more of my photographs. There are at least two lessons here for those of you reading article:
1. You can use just about anything as your inspiration for creating images. In my case, I used the dark cinematography from the Harry Potter movies to form a mental image of a certain aesthetic.
2. As digital photographers, we need to recognize that achieving our vision begins with the camera but doesn’t until we have processed the image in software. I know a lot of people are reticent to spend time post processing images, but as you can see in this case, postprocessing is essential.
What will be your inspiration for your next great image?