Behind the Frame: On top of Shetani Lava Flow

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny Leave a Comment

At the end of April, Jono and I went to stay at Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge In Tsavo West, Kenya.

To get some landscape shots before the sun rose, we decided to climb up Shetani Lavo Flow – which looked like an easy climb.

Wrong! This climb was quite a challenge as the lava hadn’t solidified as one big flow, rather it was broken up into tiny pieces of rock so that it felt like we were climbing up a hill of marbles.

The exhaustion that hung over us when we reached the top (climbing up a hill of marbles with a 20+kg camera bag was quite an experience) quickly disappeared when we saw the glorious view of Tsavo West. The rolling hills in the distance had rain falling over them, the ground below Shetani Lava Flow had lines of lava where it had once flowed and now remained, next to us was another lava hill which had solidified into spear-like rock formations.

It was all just so overwhelming. We sat in silence for a bit, our eyes greedily taking up the landscape before us. We could even spot the famous Tsavo red elephants here and there, breaking up the mass of green of the flora and the dark brown from the lava flows.

We didn’t get the sunrise shot that we were looking for as it was pretty overcast, but by no means were we disappointed by what we were presented with.

Looking around me, I couldn’t help but notice how the rising sun was catching at the tops of the soft grass.

I exposed this image in-camera to capture the detail and colours of the clouds as I just loved the texture and colours. This meant that the foreground with the grass ended up being pretty dark, with only the soft tufts of grass being somewhat illuminated.

In Lightroom, I selected the foreground with the mask tool, and added some exposure to lift the colours and details. I then took the image into Photoshop where I sharpened it slightly for web.

I didn’t edit this image much as I had already had half of it exposed and looking the way I intended, so all I had left to work on was the foreground.

For landcapes where there is a lot of tonal range that the camera cannot capture in one exposure without affecting some part of the image, you can take multiple exposures of the same frame – some lighter (Over-exposed) and some darker (Under exposed) – and blend them together. I didn’t need to use this technique as I only needed my foreground to be slightly lighter than what I shot it, as the sun was only just rising and illuminating the scenery.

This is a truly beautiful place. I cannot wait to go back there someday.

Penny Robartes

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