P.C. Lenses at Bolsover Castle

A sunny day in January was just too good a photographic opportunity to miss, especially when the weather forecast predicted a clear blue sky as a bonus, so offering a great chance to use the Canon TS-E perspective control lenses in one of my favourite architectural locations, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire.

Shooting in January does offer some unique challenges in sunny conditions, as the low position of the sun in the sky does produce some warm dramatic lighting with deep and long shadows, which are both a blessing and a curse. Dramatic lighting usually go’s hand in hand with high contrast so shooting in HDR was going to be required to try and retain as much detail as possible in both the highlights and shadows, fortunately the clear blue sky came to the rescue with the HDR merging.

Two of the main pre-requisites of successful HDR shooting are both a fixed camera position and a non-moving subject. A solid tripod took care of the former while the buildings themselves where certainly not going anywhere, the sky however is another matter as any cloud movement between shots can look quite distracting especially in a subject such as architecture. For this reason I tend to favour either an overcast sky, which also has the advantage of reducing the overall contrast in the scene, or better still a clear blue sky which although generating more contrast still offers no moving distractions in the sky area.

A few exposure meter readings of the scene, checking both highlight and shadow areas told me that I would need to take a series of 5 shots with 1 2/3 stops between each one as a minimum to cover both extremes. I decided to stick with just 5 shots as shooting in RAW with the Canon 5DsR I would have no trouble recovering detail that might fall outside the 5 shot exposure range.

Talking of subject movement, and although the building where not going to move, the sunny January day did bring plenty of visitors thus requiring me to have the patience of a saint, as at least three out of over four hours I was at the castle were spent waiting for people to move out of the shot! With practice I found I could move and set up the camera and lens, including levelling the camera and setting the lens shift in under five minutes, often less, the rest of the time was standing with a cable release in my hand…

All the shots were taken using 17mm or 24mm Canon TS-E lenses, with a Canon 5DsR on a tripod, in HDR (5 exposures, 1 2/3 stops apart) ISO 100, f8 then combined in Lightroom.

Using Lightroom’s Photo Merge / HDR mode does an acceptable job, however it offers very little actual control when combining the individual exposures, so although still worth experimenting with, I will stick with Photomatrix Pro, Aurora HDR or PTGui Pro for the time being in order to have real control over the HDR merging process.

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0512-HDR

(above) 24mm with 7mm upwards shift on lens

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0527-HDR-Edit

(above) 24mm with 8mm upwards shift on lens

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0537-HDR

(above) 24mm with 8mm upwards shift on lens

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0567-HDR

(above) 24mm with 10mm upwards shift on lens

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0602-HDR

(above) 24mm with 9mm upwards shift on lens. With my back against the wall I could only just frame the tower so I switched to the 17mm lens for the last two shots.

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0607-HDR

(above) 17mm TS-E with 10mm upwards shift on lens

2018_Jan_07_Bolsover Castle_0617-HDR

(above) 17mm TS-E with 10mm upwards shift on lens



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