A Hiking Photo Experience
The winding Bridge
The winding Bridge

The winding Bridge

Not far from where I’m living, the so called Sylvensteinspeicher can be found. Wikipedia says, it “[…] is an earthen embankment dam in the Isar valley, in the alpine part of Upper Bavaria, Germany which impounds the Sylvenstein Reservoir (German: Sylvensteinspeicher).”. The dam and according artificial lake have quite a history, including a complete village that had to be moved due to the raising water level. But that’s not what this lake is known for. In order to cross the lake, a bridge had to be built. Nothing special. Yet the underground made it necessary that the bridge wasn’t built straight but in an s-curved shape.

I’ve seen the bridge various times in the past decades – usually in commercials from above. This S-curve just gives such a nice dynamic mood with mountains, forest and lake around. Not too long ago, I tried to do my own shots of the bridge. – And I realized that it’s not as easy as I expected! NOT AT ALL.

Technically, it’s not a very hard shot: The geography of the location does not allow too much room for moving around as the mountainside there is very steep and full of bushes and trees that obstruct the view to the bridge. Thus, a good position is found quickly. Then a proper lens, aperture etc. That’s it – photo is done.

So the full complexity of the shot concentrates on the remaining factors: Nature! Being there at the right season, the right time of the day, the right weather conditions. Especially the season also affects the color of the water which has quite a bit of an impact on the photo. Doesn’t sound too complicated but in fact I’ve been there now quite some times and sometimes I did not even make a single shot! I arrived, saw that the light was just horrible, I was too late, the rain too heavy or whatever … and went without a shot. The day when I took this photo was almost such a day! The overall impression did not really blow me away. But I gave it a try – even if only to have a photo to practice editing skills.

In the end I was quite happy to take the shot. It isn’t a superb photo but regarding the circumstances I pretty like it:

The edit itself wasn’t too straight forward as I di not clearly have a certain outcome in mind.
In the end I tried to increase depth in the photo by lowering the clarity in the back. This increases the “rainy mood” in the back and enhances the layered effect. Increasing the contrast in the clouds also adds more drama to the scene.

More precisely:

  • Rotation and crop. Even if there is no horizon, the pillars of the bridge can quickly unveil a wrong tilt. The tree on the left is too cluttered to really contribute to the image.
  • global adjustments (even though I don’t recommend using global adjustments
    • increase brightness by ~0.65
    • increase contrast
    • lower the lights and increase depths
    • raise the white point a little ans decrease the blacks to fully use the complete histogram
    • decrease dynamics
    • increase sharpness
    • a cool (blue) split toning in the mids and lows and a slight yellow grad in the lights
  • local adjustments
    • brush
      • clouds: decrease brightness and clarity, increase contrast
      • remove the graffiti under the bridge
    • gradient filter
      • Reduce clarity in the background. Both, in the far end and in the mid-range mountain side on the right to increase depth in the photo
      • add a dark vignette

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