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Cheltenham Badlands

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Victoria Day holiday Monday started at 4:30am. A quick bowl of cereal was followed by a knock at the door. Kerry Little had arrived and we were on our way to the Cheltenham Badlands. Our goal was to be there before sunrise – no problem.

The day dawned clear with a slight and unexpected wind; the previous two mornings had been so calm. Oh well -not to worry – the rocks certainly won’t blow around!

Cheltenham Badlands are a small and rather unique feature along the Niagara Escarpment of exposed and eroded “red” and “green” Queenston shales. While you won’t find any hoodoos like there are out west (Alberta Badlands, Yoho National Park hoodoos and US Badlands), the colours, textures and contrasts of the undulations and hummocks are wonderful subjects in themselves. I prefer the subtle lighting of early morning before there is direct sunshine on the site, however, with a keen eye, dramatic photos can be made at any time of day and season.

I am still shooting with the D200 loaned to me by Kerry, and used a selection of lenses from both of our gear bags: 20mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 80-200mm and 300mm. I briefly used Kerry’s D3 to get a sense of the 20mm on a full-frame body – wonderfully amazing – I am so looking forward to working with the incredible perspective provided by a 20mm.

All shots were made on tripod allowing the use of small apertures for great depth-of-field. Shutter speeds ranged from a few seconds to about 1/40th. Most of the raw images were exposed-to-the-right creating distinctly washed out images that retained full detail without the spectre of noise in the shadows. Here is a “before” and “after” sequence, along with the histogram for each, to give you  a sense of how this works. After editing the colour version, I went on to create a black-and-white version that I also added some subtle brown/sepia toning to.

Lightroom 4 is truly a marvel to work with. I can be much more precise with the “processing” of each image, allowing me to recreate more precisely what I “saw” in the field. Besides the before-after shots, I’ve included a few other shots from the day.

Lightroom 4 is truly a marvel to work with. I can be much more precise with the “processing” of each image, allowing me to recreate more creatively what a “saw” in the field. Here is a selection of other photos from the day:

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