Portrait of India
Ravi says: This shot is part of my ongoing project, ‘Portrait of India – A Personal Revelation’, which involves India’s landscapes, architecture, wildlife and people. I was visiting my sister’s house in Palakkad during monsoon season and wanted to shoot the mountains in the Malampuzha range as the sun set. When I arrived at my vantage point the sun had already started to set, so I had to work quickly, attaching my 6-stop ND filter to capture a sense of movement in the clouds. Back home I processed the image with Lightroom and Google’s Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
Dan says: Ravi’s superb shot is full of drama and atmosphere. The mountain is beautifully moody and the framing is spot-on. Usually I’d opt for framing that follows the rule-of-thirds, where the focal point sits about a third of the way in from the edge of the frame. But Ravi’s clever central framing breaks this rule to give the summit centre stage.
The timing is spot-on too, with Ravi waiting for a low cloud to pass over the top of the mountain. Although he used a 6-stop ND filter to reduce the flow of light, he only achieved a shutter speed of 1/13sec. A longer shutter speed would have created even more motion and this would develop a larger range of textures. The clouds would then be much smoother, increasing the contrast between the sharp, craggy edges of the mountain face. This could be achieved in-camera with a stronger ND filter, such as a 10-stop, or by closing aperture down further.
For me, Ravi’s done a brilliant job to get this cracking shot in-camera, but it would benefit from a few tweaks in post-processing to take it to the top of its game. The image is full of midtones, so it looks a little flat. I’d be tempted to turn some of these midtones into deep blacks and bright whites to increase contrast. This is possible with the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop (Photo Fix 1).
I’d also remove the two trees at the bottom. They’re a little distracting, with just the tops poking through the bottom edge (Photo Fix 2). This would strengthen the composition, but you may want to skip this step if you’re looking to reveal nature in its purest form. Top job Ravi, keep up the good work.