With no particular objective in mind, except to reinforce some of my recent OCA course learning, I set off south, undertook an errand in Kendal, and set off into Yorkshire via Sedburgh.  Soon I was on single track roads, with lots of great landscape potential. The day was very dark, grey and light very flat, so I thought I’d try some long exposure soft landscapes. I spoke to a few locals and one suggestion I thought I’d try was some of the many Viaducts on the Carlisle to Settle railway running through the area.

As with previous exercises, I took a number of different exposures at a very small aperture (f22) and was really pleased I did this. Due to the poor light I had to use much higher shutter speeds of around 2 to 5 seconds. The results were surprising, particularly the slightly overexposed versions, which gave brightness and detail that I didn’t think was possible from such a dark environment. These were very different to what was apparent to the naked eye.

Even more surprising was what happened in post processing when I combined the different exposures with the HDR function in Lightroom. The best of all the combined images came through in the result, the brightly lit Viaducts and definition in the sky. To illustrate, compare the overexposed image below:

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The combined image of the same viaduct.

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The difference is incredible, richer colours, lots more detail and the softness of the image from the long exposure and small aperture is retained. I have learned much more from this set of images than the previously posted images of soft landscapes. I might even keep my tripod handy for future trips.

There were many rivers running through the area, so I thought I’d also use shutter speed to capture the flow of the rivers. With the use of the tripod, I took a number of images of flowing water with 1 second plus shutter speeds. However, I hadn’t spotted that some rain on the lens spoiled many of the images, with large smudges. I had to delete these in post processing. The most challenging element was finding the right exposure to show the flow of the rivers and enhance this with lots of detail in the surroundings.

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One element of images I’ve used in the past is to include foreground elements that help add depth or frame the main subject e.g. branches or bushes. These work well at higher shutter speeds, however the wind and long shutter speeds made these elements distracting, so I will now avoid these for this type of image (although the middle image above wasn’t as distracting as others).

Some of the other images from the trip are shown below:

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