Midsummer evening 2016 was particularly lovely; I hadn’t ventured out with the intention of capturing these images when I found myself standing two fields distant from the popular trail at Benny Beg near Crieff. So why was I there at all? Primarily, it was to do a last rehearsal of my Father of the Groom speech for delivery at a wedding in Luxembourg the following Saturday. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a space in the open to practice a speech, hence the reason for placing myself two field’s distant from the path! Having rehearsed to my satisfaction, I moved to the second task; that of testing the usable dynamic range of my Nikon D810 camera.
The mechanics of photography are a continual learning process and even after decades of using a camera I find I’m still on a leaning curve, particularly since moving from film to digital capture. For some years now I have used LEE graduated filters to balance (high) contrast between light and dark areas in a scene. In addition to adding another “layer” in front of the lens, graduated filters can also be difficult to place correctly; so having recently read a book by landscape photographer Michael Frye I was keen to test out my camera’s usable dynamic range and to push the exposure as light as possible and by doing so to get as much noise-free shadow detail as possible, ideally without using graduated filters or other HDR (high dynamic range) techniques. Older digital cameras were quite limited in their dynamic range however newer models are better able to capture higher contrast range subjects. Naturally, I’ll be doing further tests along this theme; in the meantime I was very pleased with the results from this test and with these two images in particular, as I have easily retained detail in the highlight and shadow areas as intended. Another bonus for me was in capturing these amazing cloud structures; as readers of earlier posts will know, I’m a great fan of clouds and of course of silver birch trees!
1/13 sec @ f/11 ISO 64 Nikon D810 with 24mm f/3.5 Tilt + Shift lens
1/40 sec @ f/11 ISO 250 Nikon D810 with 16-35mm f/4 lens @ 20mm