Bales and Approaching Storm

Bales and Approaching Storm
Pentax 645z with 80–160mm at ISO 2500 


I was up early one morning in August, 2014 to drive to Buffalo, New York. I was scheduled to meet with a potential major donor to The Endowment.

The view out my bedroom window was of mist, low clouds and threatening rain. Perfect shooting weather, I thought, and so I left the house a few hours earlier than I otherwise would have to drive cross-country slowly, rather than take visually uninteresting highways.

As I drove though the rolling hills of Caledon, Ontario I saw bales of hay in a new-mown field, with weather hanging low over the forested hills.

File as shot

A wire fence stood between me and the field, as did a wide and wet ditch and some foreground vegetation. I managed to get to the edge of the fence without getting too wet (it had stormed the night before) but couldn't quite get my tripod high enough to clear the vegetation on the other side of the fence. I figured that I would crop it out eventually, which is what I did. I also had to clone out one small piece on the far left of frame.

I chose to shoot with the Pentax 80-160mm f/4.5 zoom on my new Pentax 645z, ending up at 118mm and with an exposure of 1/250 sec @ f/16, and ISO 2500.

The exposure setting may seem a bit odd, but was necessary. F/16 because I wanted decent depth of field, though I know that the distance would still go a bit soft. Not important really, because the shot is about the bales and the clouds and mist, and the latter doesn't need critical sharpness. With a medium format sensor f/16 is still before diffraction sets in, and tends to be my most used for this type of landscape work.

A shutter speed of 1/250 sec may seem odd, since as I mentioned the camera was on a tripod. But – in reality it was leaning up against the fence balancing on just one leg, so that I could get enough height to clear the foreground cutter as best as possible.

The ISO just was what ended up being needed, and as I've discovered with the Pentax 645z, anything up to and including ISO 3200 shows hardly any noise or reduction in dynamic range.

In Lightroom all I needed to do was lighten the foreground bale a bit with a brush, and darken the clouds with a combination of gradient and brush.

100% crop


This image and its analysis may be discussed on the LuLa Forum