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General Blog

White Orpheus or Pink?

Mangrove Roots, Orpheus Island, 2009.
Phase One 645AF, P45+ back, 28mm lens, 15 seconds @ f16, ISO 50

I was up to my knees in warm salt water, but I wasn't complaining. I also think that's why many people from the southern latitudes of Australia visit Orpheus Island in winter and if, following the chilly weather we've been having lately, you're in need of a warm respite, now would be a good time to book a trip to Orpheus Island in Far North Queensland.

There are two options. One is a six star resort which is out of my price bracket (champagne tastes, beer budget), the other is the experience of your photography life at the James Cook University research station on the other end of the island. However, while the location is fantastic, the real attraction has to be three of Australia's best photographers and photographic educators ever. Dr Les Walking is joined by Dr Vicki Cooper and Dr Doug Spowart. I'm pretty sure Vicki and Doug are both doctors, maybe they're professors or something else as well, but I get lost after an ordinary degree!

Les has been presenting his Orpheus Island printing workshop for eleven years along with John and Pam de Rooy. And after my presentation with Les in the Daintree last month, I said I'd mention his printing workshop in my newsletter - and hence the photograph above.

For more details about the Orpheus Island Photography Workshop, visit

Shooting the photograph, I was knee deep in salt water as the tide came in. It was taken only a stone's throw from the research station with a wide-angle lens and a long shutter speed of 15 seconds to blur the water. 

To lighten up the tree roots as though they were catching the light from the sunset, I used a channel mask which picked out the light that was already striking the top of the mangrove roots and then, using a curves adjustment layer, lightened them up. It was easier than using a brush and carefully picking out the roots because all the hard work had been done by the channel. This is one aspect of Photoshop that can't easily be replicated in Lightroom or Capture One, but admittedly it takes a little more practice to achieve as well.

So, do you like the pink light catching the tops of the tree roots - or would you prefer them to look like steely-white moon light? Have a look here...

A second version of Orpheus Roots - this time with clean white light. 

I'm thinking the response will be about 50:50 and the fact that I keep both working files alive indicates that I can't make up my mind either! Some would argue that the pink light is truer to reality, but when has reality overly bothered me? Not for this kind of work, at any rate!

And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have trips going to Bhutan, USA, Georgia/Armenia, Iran, Greenland/Iceland and Mexico. Full details on the Better Photography website!

Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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