I’ve been on the island for more than three weeks, and it’s only this long weekend (today is a national holiday here, one of many national and public holidays) that I managed to drag myself to the sea. The only other outdoorsy thing I’ve done was to go out climbing with the Malta Climbing Club at Wied Babu last week. That was great fun, and I look forward to many more. But it suddenly feels like ages since I’ve been on a good walk.
The last one, in fact, was four weeks ago, on my last weekend in the UK. I wasn’t too sure where to go for that last walk in the country. I knew I’d need to drive my car up to the transport operators in a few days, so I didn’t want to go on any long drives. I also knew I’d need to add another four miles to whatever walk I wanted to do, just to get to the car and back. So no long walks, either. In the end I settled for a short walk in Guildford itself, from Pewley Down to St Martha’s and back via Chantry Wood. The way through Chantry Wood I had not done before, and I long wanted to. It also seemed fitting to spend my last quiet walk in a place I visited so often and liked so much.
It was rather stormy that day, but it was forecast to clear up in the afternoon, so I decided to start after lunch. It was still raining when I started, but that soon stopped, leaving only the wind and the sun between the clouds. I took advantage of the wind to try a long exposure photo. I had to wait a while at one point for a group of young visitors to move out of frame. It doesn’t bother me when that happens; with popular places one has to get used to it anyway.
I set up facing the wind, metered the sky and the foreground, and composed. I used an ND grad (pretty sure it was a soft grad) to balance the sky and foreground, and took a few exposures. Once I was happy with the result, I added the ND 3.0 filter and prepared the timer remote with the appropriate exposure setting. I always weight down the tripod with my backpack, but as it was so windy I needed to do more than that. I waited for a lull and held the tripod down during the exposure time to minimize vibrations. I repeated the process a few times to have a choice of frames, as I knew from experience that it’s hard to judge the overall composition in the field, with the clouds moving around so much.
In post I did some non-destructive dodge/burn using a gray layer with an overlay blend mode, painting onto it in black to burn and white to dodge that area. A global curves layer finally sets the overall contrast. As I use a Lee Big Stopper for long exposures, I also needed to remove its colour cast. As usual I did this as the RAW processing stage, by using a pre-determined white balance.
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