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  The View From Richmond Hill at Sunset  

Richmond Hill
By Leigh Cousins 01/10/2015
Canon 5D Mark II 16-35 USM 16mm 1/50 F11 ISO100

Richmond Hill, the view, wow! It is the only view protected by an Act of Parliament, and the best views are from Terrace Walk at the top of Richmond Hill.





As The Sun Goes Down

The Idea
To capture the perfect shot is a combination of several factors. One of the most important of those is the weather. With clear skies, no clouds, no fog or haze brings beautiful crisp colours, also the time of year makes a big difference. With the weather and timing sorted, next is the location...

Once I found the best location on Richmond Hill, and this particular shot isn't easy as you want to include the pathway without actually setting up on the path itself, so I set up in the weeds just beside the path which was quite thick and steep, but you got to do whats needed for the shot right?!


The Shot
Over a period of 1 hour from 6pm I took several shots as the sun went down. For this shot it is best to try and make sure that the shot is clear of people, lucky enough it was a quiet evening. I found the group of picnickers on the left added a reassuring touch to the harmony and feel of the photo.
Obviously a tripod is used as you want the exact same shot when the sun is bright in the sky, half way under the horizon and sun settled. These 3 shots will give different aspects which I will combine later.

f/11 and ISO100 to make sure everything is in focus and shows up the detail. I always use manual focus and for this particular shot I focused on the island on the River Thames, and not the furthest away point. The reason behind this is I don't mind the skyline being out of focus as you can't really see much detail there anyways and helps to cut out any over-detail in the far distance, keeps it smooth! It also helps to keep the pathway in focus but just to be sure I took a few shots with the focus on the closest pillar of the pathway so I can blend them in post if needed.






The Post
Post production stage, my favourite part. My finished shot is a combination of 3 shots blended together in Photoshop. There wasn't much Camera Raw settings to change, the picture almost spoke for itself. The trouble I had was trying to decide which photo was the best! In the end I went for the shot with the sun half over the horizon, when watching the sun set it seems to take ages for the sun to reach the horizon and then a few minutes for it to disappear... So the shot is a more precise time and produces a very interesting look.

Removal of the annoying tree on the top left is vital! It draws your eye a bit almost unknowingly, removing it will cut that out completely.
A simple clone stamp. Remembering the position of the sun, the colours don't blend perfectly horizontal but more a -30 degree angle north-west.

With the sky I didn't need any sharpening, a slight luminance correcting and then blend in some vibrant blues & oranges. The beauty of this sky is the weather conditions... absolutely perfect, and when you have days/evenings like this you don't need to do much with the photo... Always a good sign!

I then used a brigher version of the land when the sun was higher, simply to introduce the warmth and light. Attention taken to removing the lens flare on the far left.

Finally, the steps. I used the sharpest shot of the steps and pathway and it just happened to be an ideal shot of the picnickers to. Blend all 3 together.
I then added some simple Curves and Color Balance adjustments, touched up any small marks or blemishes




Easily my favourite view in London. Sights like this are very scarce around the city, and this one with its wealth of history is lucky enough to be protected from any construction or development. Many paintings of the view still remain dating back to the 1700's. One painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner is displayed in the Tate Gallery - View Here

Being close to the path gives the shot a nice 'leading line', almost as if you follow the path down you will enter into a mystical enchanted forest! I do wish I could find a better vantage point, perhaps back a bit and higher, but for that I would need a ladder and a fold out table that I could rest the tripod on.
The shrubbery in the foreground can be seen it 2 ways, firstly it adds that foreground object that gives the eye that parallex option. Secondly would the shot look better without it? Possibly...

So, the best way to describe this shot is simple :-
Even if I didn't have a camera, watching the sun set from Richmond Hill is a privilege.

  Leigh Cousins RAW ©Copyright 2013-2015