Yesterday evening I went scouting for a place where to relax a bit and take some photos. As usual I was looking for some running water hence I opened the map and headed north, towards the Sierra of Madrid. Without knowing it I arrived to a place that I have already visited with my wife and daughter and recognized a road to the Jarama river, in an area not infested with bulls and hardwired fences.
The familiar noise of the running water raised my spirits. I put my high boots, grabbed the camera and tripod and took my way down to the valley, where the Jarama River was running. The photo session was OK but nothing spectacular, many different shots in places that somehow called my attention, but I was enjoying it. Every time I go out to take a picture I try to take it as a learning experience, not thinking about coming out with a winning image. Hence, whatever it comes, if is an improvement over previous tries is a goal achieved.
Towards the end of the day I discovered this sort of a "Bridge". Maybe is just a decorative log, even though I doubt that the elves of the woods spend their time re-decorating it just to make it look nicer. Anyway, I placed the tripod and started playing with exposure, white balance and obviously the flash.
The first shot I'm showing here is very orthodox. Cloudy white balance and nothing else. I like it but is probably average, it doesn't have any special "edge".
This is a B&W conversion of the same shot, maybe is a little bit more appealing because of that Black & White feeling yet is not a gigantic improvement. For a novel photographer like me is a nice image but I understand that it cannot compete on the major league
Here below is where I started playing with the camera configuration and my always available portable speed light, in this case a Nikon SB600
Here things started to get a tad odd. I changed to WB to tungsten and played with the SB600 speed light with two full CTO gels on it. The result is a tad exaggerated, the "Bridge" is cooked, way too hot. There's a lot of flash light spills on the ground as well.
Second attempt. Mellowing down on the gels and the amount of flash bursts. Changed the white balance in RAW to something closer to Fluorescent rather than Tungsten. The result has improved a bit but at least to me it still looks a bit too hot.
Third attempt. Maybe I'm wrong but I think this is the right way. There's no signs of the flash bursts on the ground and the color given to the "bridge" is more natural, yet still creates a contrast with the background. Unfortunately I couldn't paint with the flash further that half the log. For my next attempt I will try with a torch.
Funny enough I don't seem to be able to do landscapes kind of stuff without playing around with a strobe. Maybe one day I will grow up :-)