I have this hopelessly romantic notion that ‘spirit of place’ is a metaphysical reality; that as humans we can be in a place and somehow communicate with our surroundings, allow ourselves to feel the emotion that’s wrapped up in the ‘spiritual energy’ of any given location.
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Hyperfocal


‘Boat’, Erbusaig, Highland, Scotland
Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 R LM OIS @ 18mm, 1.3 sec @ f/16, ISO 200
LEE Seven5 system Polariser, 2-stop ND Grad and 3-stop ND filters.
Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 tripod, Manfrotto 488RC2 ball-head.
Adobe Photoshop.

“All that remained was to squeeze the cable release, a reassuringly mechanical connection between me and the camera.”

Hyperfocal

Erbusaig is an astonishingly beautiful bay that lies on Scotland’s north-west coast between the Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton. If it were situated anywhere else in the UK, it would likely become an iconic location for landscape photographers; but this little township is surrounded by a multitude of photogenic oases, so it seldom gains the attention it deserves.

Conditions were perfect for capturing the spirit of Scotland’s north-west coast; low lying cloud acted as a huge diffuser, eliminating direct sunlight and allowing natural saturation of these ‘heritage’ hues. After framing the composition, I made an unfiltered test shot and assessed the result on the LCD; the sky was too bright and the water looked distracting with too much reflection and textural detail in the foreground. I attached a Lee Seven5 filter holder, with a two-stop neutral density graduated filter to darken the sky. Partial polarisation eliminated the brilliant reflections in the immediate foreground to reveal the underlying mud patterns, but left the shimmering water around the boat to provide necessary contrast. A three-stop neutral density filter enabled a longer exposure, to reduce, but not completely eliminate, the textural detail in the water.

The Fuji X-Pro1 has a depth-of-field scale which shows the focus distance and the depth-of-field as a white band adjacent to a distance scale at the bottom of the LCD. Objects in the scene at any distances that fall within the white band will be adequately focused in the final image at the selected focal length and aperture. Focusing at the hyperfocal distance is therefore simply a matter of manually focusing the lens until the right-hand edge of the moving white band touches infinity on the scale. I usually move it slightly past this point to ensure I maximise image quality for potentially large exhibition prints. Standing in the shallows at Erbusaig, with the hyperfocal distance set, all that remained was to squeeze the cable release, a reassuringly mechanical connection between me and the camera; a gratifying climax to a special morning.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.