The natural landscape photo I am sharing this week is not that natural. The hillsides close to where I live have been largely shaped by the hand of man and most hills are covered in vineyards or fields of cereals. Still, this is not a cityscape, so it fits the category. This particular photo just won a contest too, so it’s particularly dear to me.
I shot this one not long after I got my Fuji X100s and was really wanting to push my new toy to its limits as a landscape camera, so I hopped on my car one fall afternoon and drove to the hills. After a bit of driving around, as the sun started getting low on the horizon, I spotted this valley at the bottom of which the fog was still lingering. I parked the car along the side of the paved road and walked into the neighboring vineyard for a bit.
Instead of shooting with the sun behind my back, I envisioned getting a warm glow from the yellowing wine leaves, if I could get them backlit. Even though the sun was quite low and its light filtered by the haze, I bracketed three shots to make sure I had enough detail in the sky and the foreground. I was shooting RAW, but I set a cloudy white balance in camera anyway, in order to get a preview of the warm colors I was actually seeing with my eyes.
In post, I combined the three images (at 0, -1, and +1EV) using my typical HDR workflow, then added some global and local tonal adjustments to make the details in the grapevines and in the sky stand out, while keeping the haziness of the distant hills, which adds depth to the image.
Keeping the original cloudy white balance setting, together with the HDR treatment, made the sky look really yellow, but I decided to keep it like that, even though it does not look completely natural. I think it adds to the overall autumnal sunset feeling.
There isn’t a bold composition or a strong subject in this image, but I quite like the somber mood it evokes. What do you think? Let me know in the comments here, if you’d like.