Daily Photo – House on a Hill

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Every Thanksgiving I head out to California to visit my dad, who lives on 11 acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  His house sits at one end of the property, on a small but well positioned ridge.  This is my first real attempt to photograph it, and also one of my first experiments with black and white HDR shots.

  • Shutter:  1/250 to 2 seconds
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

Color version:

Original (one of several images used for the HDR composite):

Composition and Processing:

  • There are a couple of ways I could have shot this subject, such as trying to frame the house against background foliage, or from a distance, showing it’s position on the ridge.  But I wanted to somehow encompass the impressive view, either of the distant ridgelines or the massive expanse of sky (I chose the latter, since we had some wonderful clouds that day).  By positioning the structure at one end of a very wide angle shot, it gives the impression (I hope) that the house is looking out across a wide expanse (the distortion created by the 14mm lens reinforces that).  I also shot from about 6 feet below the ridgeline, which further raises the structure up in the air.
  • I prefer the black and white version of this shot, but some of my friends like the color one.  The color one is definitely richer and well saturated — I was happy with the results I got for the house and the sky.  But I found the foreground bushes too distracting.  In black and white, the foreground blends in more and doesn’t overwhelm the shot.

January 07 2009 07:18 pm | Photography

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