The abstract landscape

Time for a change of pace, or at least location,  I think.   As regular readers will know, I’ve been posting a lot of images from my Tanzania photo safari which I did earlier this year (June-July).    After the Tanzania leg of my travels,  I continued on to South Africa where I spent some time travelling through the Drakensberg Mountains and KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The name Drakensberg is derived from the Afrikaans Drakensberge meaning “Dragon Mountains” and is the name given to the eastern portion of a Great Escarpment which extends for over 1,000 kilometres right across South Africa.   Geologically formed over about 180 million years and subject to erosion which has left a series of massive rugged, steep-sided blocks and pinnacles,  the escarpment in places reaches altitudes of over 3000 metres.    Indeed the nature of the landscape gave rise to an earlier Zulu name meaning “Barrier of up-pointed spears”.

When you’re in a grand natural landscape,  the temptation is to get out the wide-angle lens and try to capture the “big picture”.   However sometimes it’s worth looking beyond the obvious and look for smaller details,  a telephoto lens can be helpful in doing so.    In today’s example,  having taken the wide landscape shot,  I focused on a single shrub or tree on a ridgeline.    It was late in the day and the tree being back-lit was in silhouette.     The 70-300mm zoom was used at the long end to isolate the tree.    Using the Canon 20D with its 1.6 crop factor sensor results in an angle of view equal to 480mm on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Processing in Lightroom.

Looking at the final image,  I could well pose the question,  is it colour or monochrome?    Although I’m sure I could get a very similar result by doing a black and white conversion,   all processing was done in colour.    There were only a few simple steps taken but each was pushed fairly strongly to end up with the strongly graphic “abstracted” final image.

  • Contrast was increased dramatically driving the shadows to black

  • Colour Temperature was increased dramatically to end up with an almost brown-toned sky

  • Sharpening was heavily masked so as to only affect the ridge-line and tree details, with fairly strong noise reduction being used on the remainder of the image to ensure a smooth/clean appearance to the sky and foreground.

Lone tree on horizon, Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa.