Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Rays & Rain

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In the Field

Rays & Rain. Placid Lake, Montana, USA. September 15, 2013

I captured this image during a family camping vacation in mid-September of 2013. When I go on vacation I tend to take a pretty minimal kit along with me - normally one camera body (which, at the time of this writing, is usually a Nikon D600) and just 3 Nikon lenses - the 24-120mm f4 VR; the 70-200mm f4 VR; and now the "new" AF-S 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR (and, of course, a tripod, cable release and my F-stop Loka camera backpack). This kit gives me a lot of flexibility, is at least reasonably compact, and - with the amazing state of current camera bodies and lenses - allows me to capture everything from snapshots to gallery quality images.

There's definitely an element of "f8 and BE THERE" with any landscape shooting (and a lot of wildlife shooting too!). You can buy all the latest and greatest gizmos, but if you don't get out won't get the photos (as an aside - I know of at least two "serious enthusiast" photographers who spend so much of their photography budgets on gear that there's none left to invest in "getting out there"...hmmm).

This is an image that's largely just the result of being out there. We were camped on the shore of Lake Placid, Montana with large fluffy clouds rolling in from the south. As the sun set and moved closer and closer to the horizon it started raining and getting misty on the far side of the lake - right when the light was going really, really golden warm. Add in a combination of sheets of rain with visible bands (or "rays") of sun filtering through the trees, and it was just a drop-dead gorgeous scene. I knew it was going to be a very transient scene (it lasted only a minute or two), so I quickly grabbed my D600, threw the 70-200mm f4 VR lens on it (knowing that with its really good VR I could hand-hold the shot), zoomed out to maximum focal length, and snapped away). The blue/green band in just below the shoreline is the result of a reflection of some blue sky just above where I cut the frame - to me it adds a necessary (but subtle) bit of colour contrast to the scene. And...a minute later the scene was history...

Oh...and I DID shoot the scene at f8 - so it truly WAS "f8 and BE THERE"!

The texture and detail that makes this image work for me is best seen in a higher resolution version of this image - so here's a 2400 pixel version of the image for your perusal:

Rays & Rain: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.4 MB)

NOTE: This image - in all resolutions - is protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of it (including use as desktop backgrounds or screensavers on your own computer), but unauthorized commercial use of the image is prohibited by law. Thanks in advance for respecting my copyright!

Behind the Camera

Rays & Rain. Placid Lake, Montana, USA. September 15, 2013

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 110

Nikon D600 paired with Nikkor 70-200mm f4 VR lens @ 200mm. Hand-held. VR on and in normal mode.

1/200s @ f8; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Rays & Rain. Placid Lake, Montana, USA. September 15, 2013

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening using Capture One Pro version 7. Levels, saturation (+5 "units"), and minor highlight reduction adjustments during raw conversion.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC and Light Craft's LightZone. Photoshop adjustments included minor selective midtone tweaking and sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking (and further adjustments to midtones and black point) performed with LightZone.


Rays & Rain. Placid Lake, Montana, USA. September 15, 2013

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