Friday, January 18, 2013
Immediately after Ernesto Santos and his wife toured Scotland this past summer -- see his story posted on this blog September 18 -- they flew to Ireland and rented a car for ten more days of touring and photographing. "After a couple of days in Dublin we rented a car and drove to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Our plan was to head straight to the scenic northern coast of the island and then swing back through the Republic of Ireland following its western edge as we made our way back to Dublin and our plane back to the States.
"In the early afternoon we arrived in the beautiful little town of Ballycastle which was the ideal starting point to explore County Antrim since most of the historic and scenic areas are within easy driving distance. After checking in at our bed and breakfast we headed to the town center and Ballycastle harbor to sample the Irish way of life. In this first shot I was able to get a colorful sunset over the harbor by using a Singh-Ray 3-stop soft-step Graduated ND filter to balance the tones in the fiery sky with the shadowy harbor. I chose the soft-step grad for a very specific reason -- the irregular horizon line created by the tree tops and the masts of the sailboats sticking up into the sky. This situation prevented the use of a hard edge filter and filter holder particularly because the masts would show the filter transition. Handholding the soft transition ND grad and dodging it up and down during the exposure helped avoid any sign of a transition.
"As I continued to explore the harbor, I came across this graceful sculpture of four swans in flight high above a children’s playground. I wondered about the significance of this artwork while I walked around it several times trying to find a good camera angle. While the sculpture itself is a worthy subject I wanted to include the delicate pastel hues developing across the sky. I settled on this upward angle to emphasize the flight of birds and capture the ethereal light above. I selected my 1-stop hard-step ND Grad to help achieve my vision. I placed it at a slight angle to best cover the entirety of the sky and again dodged it slightly during the exposure. This is a difficult shot to get right and no amount of filter use, no matter how creatively used, is likely to give you a perfect exposure. I knew at that moment I would have to optimize it back home in post process. By the way, I later looked up the sculpture and found that it represents the Celtic legend of the Children of Lir who were the four children of a once-widower king who were transformed into swans by a magic spell cast upon them by a wicked and jealous stepmother.
"Now take a look at this image. I used my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizer to completely change the color palette and (hopefully) the mood of the photograph. By turning the filter ring toward gold polarization it de-saturated the color while actually boosting the greens and yellows. The effect is that of antiquity, almost like looking into the past.
LB Warming Polarizer to enhance the golden hues and eliminate any blue cast in the shadows. I also hand held a 2-stop ND Grad at an angle allowing me to increase the exposure to ensure the basalt tubes in the shadows contained detail.
"Our trip to Northern Ireland was filled with scenic beauty at every turn. It is definitely a premier photographer's destination. With six days left we plugged in our next stop in the GPS -- Galway, Republic of Ireland -- and headed south. Now that we got a taste of the Irish scenery our expectations were running sky-high again."
For more images from Ernesto's trip to Scotland and Northern Ireland, take a little time to visit his website.