Midnight Isle



This photo was taken whilst being driven along the A3055 on the only sunny day of a trip last November to the Isle of Wight. My D750 and 24-140 F/4 lens were both new at that point, and I was seeing how well they worked.

With the camera set to Aperture priority at f/8, ISO 400, I spotted the potential and waited a brief moment to allow the cyclist to reach the right position before trusting the vibration reduction and auto-focus, and they didn't let me down.

Whilst the camera succesfully captured the moment, post-processing was required to reproduce the image above. I go through the stages below to show how the image evolved.

Out of the camera, the shot is wonky and slightly over-exposed for my liking.

So the first thing to do is crop to fix the angle and composition. The D750 has a virtual horizon feature, available both on the rear screen, plus as a simple indicator in the viewfinder. It is useful for more relaxed shots, but in this situation there was no time to turn it on; it was a case of shooting wider and fixing later.

The focal length used for the shot was 82mm.

Washed out exposure benefits from increasing contrast and clarity.

As can be seen, a good crop alone can go a long way to helping an image.

When it comes to fixing exposure, Lightroom's auto tone functionality rarely gets it right, since it works by trying to normalise the histogram (rather than knowing how a scene should look), but it can sometimes be a useful starting point for further adjustments.

In this case it leaves the image a tad washed out, so I primarily tweaked the Highlight Recovery, Contrast, and Clarity controls to give the image a boost.

I don't give the values because there's no magic numbers or ratios for this, and no absolute correct result - every image is different, and photographers have their own styles. If you're unsure, experiment until you get what you're after.

Using vignette to focus on the cyclist

The cyclist is the main point of the image, but I didn't feel they were standing out enough. Adding a vignette helps to draw the eye inwards, but I didn't like what it was doing to the sky and cliffs. Boosting the Highlight Recovery slider countered that.

And there you have it - a few simple tweaks make all the difference. You can click on the images and use left/right arrow keys to cycle through the stages.