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Moel Siabod #8

Moel Siabod with sunlit trees in the foreground. Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

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The story behind this image

Early August 2107 and my wife Liz and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip to the Snowdonia National Park, just over an hour's drive from our home in Northeast Wales.

To really push the boat out we stopped for tea at the lovely Tyn-Y-Coed Inn, on the A5 just outside Capel Curig and boasting great views out over one of the prettiest mountains in Snowdonia, Moel Siabod.

Moel Siabod can be loosely translated as 'Shapely hill', and the view from the inn certainly showed that translation to be appropriate, with the conical peak of Siabod rising from behind a verdant woodland just on the other side of the car park.

As the meal went by I got more and more distracted by the view until, with patches of sunlight and shadow coursing over the landscape, I could stand it no more.

So after finishing my steak with what Liz considered to be undue haste, I left her to order coffees as I dashed out to the car park to capture the scene before the light changed.

With partially lit trees in the foreground and the peak of Moel Siabod outlined against the cloud wracked sky I framed up this composition and immediately hit a snag in that the contrast in brightness between the sky and shadowed landscape was way too great for my camera's sensor to accomodate.

Normally I'd slip a neutral density graduated filter over the lens in circumstances like this, in order to darken the sky to a point where I could take the photo without blowing out the highlights in the clouds or blocking up the shadows on the mountain and trees.

But if I were to try this here, with an uneven horizon, then I would also darken the mountain peak - not acceptable.

So I reverted to Plan B, and instead of fitting a filter I took five seperate exposures, each one stop apart, in order to capture the entire tonal range of the scene for a subsequent high dynamic range (HDR) blend in Adobe Lightroom.

In the early days of HDR blending you would get some truly horrible, artificial looking results.

But the software has moved on, and now HDR blends can look really natural.

The only problems occur when there are moving elements, like clouds, in the scene, so I was careful to take my five exposures as quickly as possible to minimise the ghosting effect that can sometimes mar an otherwise great image.

All in all, I was very pleased with how this HDR blend turned out, rendering the scene pretty much as how I originally saw it with my God designed eye/brain image processing system, by which HDR is carried out automatically without me having to think about it!

And I just got back inside as the coffees arrived - what a result!

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Image data

Filename - moel siabod 08.jpg

Camera - Canon 6D

Lens - 24-105mm zoom @ 105mm

Exposure - Various @ f8, ISO100

Filters - Polarising filter used to reduce glare and enhance colours.

Location - Moel Siabod, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

This image - 800x533px JPEG

Conversion - Adobe Lightroom

Comments - Final image is an HDR blend of five seperate exposures.