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Hill outside Glen Helen, Central Australia.
Phase One 645DF, IQ180 back, 300mm Mamiya lens, 3 seconds @ f5.6, ISO 35


There's no doubting the magical quality of light in Australia's Red Centre, especially after sunset. The base colour of the earth is so rich and red that everything is coloured, so much so that people who haven't visited the Red Centre often query whether photographs depict the real colour or not.


On occasion, I have reduced the saturation in the reds so it could fit into the gamut provided by the ink and paper combination I was printing to. On other occasions, I have reduced the red just to make it look more believable. It really can be very, very red.


And of course, there have been other times that I have increased the red for aesthetic purposes! The point I'm labouring is that colour in photography is far from absolute or precise and that we can do a lot of things to our files to render them as we see fit. Or as we experienced them.


So, what about the colour in this photo? If you click through to the website, you'll see the raw file with minimal processing. It shows that the base colours are there, but the sky is pretty washed out and the colours are not as rich as perceived by the eye (or at least by my memory).


As I stood on the knoll behind Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, I couldn't help but marvel at the silvery light with a hint of rose and its effect on the surrounding hills. However, while capturing high quality pixels, the long exposure had lightened everything up and lost the magic. Temporarily. 


In Capture One (or Lightroom), I explored the colour temperature settings until I produced the right balance of blue in the sky and red in the hills. I then added in some contrast to build the richness of the colours, and then added a little colour saturation as well. Finally, I darkened down the image to regain the magic, but using an adjustment layer in Capture One, lightened up the little hill as though it were capturing the last rays of sunset. This was made easier because the edit was based on fact.


I hope you like it! Tony Hewitt and I are planning a workshop to Central Australia this August in conjuction with Phase One. However, there is no need to be shooting with Phase One gear to come along, although there is an option to hire a Phase One outfit if you're interested. If you've ever wondered what medium format is all about, this could be a great opportunity! But DSLR and mirrorless camera owners are most welcome!


Processed raw file before adjustments.


And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months or so, I have places left on trips going to the Arctic, New Zealand ‘Middlehurst’, Antarctica, Iran and Bolivia. Full details on the Better Photography website!


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