Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Cappadocian Cream (part one of three trip reports)

Tufa Towers, Cappadocia

I was rudely awakened the first morning at 4:45 am by the amplified ‘call to prayers’ from the local mosque. That was a shock. Note to self—no need to bring an alarm clock next time. The flight from the U.K. was pretty uneventful. I met up with the rest of the group at a stop-over in Budapest before catching a one-hour internal flight to Kayseri.

This was the third trip I have take with the travel group, Squiver. The company, managed and run by Dutch husband & wife team, Marsel & Daniëlla Sibbing specialise in Photographic trips all over the world. Their web-site will give you a flavour of places they have visited and new trips are fully researched and planned every year.

A quick wash & dress and I was waiting in the courtyard in the pre-dawn light. The others arrived and we set off in two cars for a local beauty spot featuring some good examples of those famous ‘fairy chimneys’. These towers, complete with their capping layer of harder rock, are everywhere in Göreme National Park. The soft volcanic rock is known as Tufa and is the result of centuries of volcanic activity, millions of years ago. Millions of years later, the surrounding softer rock has been eroded away transforming the landscape into a forest of

I wandered around the location in the soft light of pre-dawn looking for a suitable opportunity and camera angle. I had selected my 14-24 mm Nikon zoom lens on my D3. After a couple of false starts and several distractions, I found myself on a small ledge with a terrific view of some of the distant towers and a wonderfully carved structure in the foreground. I quickly set-up my tripod and adjusted my camera angle and settings.

The sun had just peeped over the horizon bathing the soft rocks in a beautiful golden light. It was time to act quickly. I adjusted the zoom to 24 mm and made a quick exposure at 1/250 @ f10 at an ISO 400. By the time I had checked the histogram and ensured that the image was sharp from foreground to background, it was too late. The sun had now illuminated the right edge of the foreground rock, causing a harsh highlight and ruining the subtlety of the composition.

I was reasonably pleased with the image but wasn’t too sure that it would make the cut. My composition had a centred horizon that split the image into four, distinct quadrants—flagrantly disobeying the mighty rule of thirds. Here is the unadjusted NEF Raw file for comparison…

As you can see, I have cropped the top of the image and chosen a warmer colour balance. Other adjustments included some burning-in of the edges and increasing the tonal contrast of the rock and sky. I was nearly tempted to crop the base of the image too, but the beautiful leading lines and sinuous curves of the path dissuaded me.

A short time later, the light became harsh and unkind so I returned to where the rest of the party were waiting. A happy but tired group of photographers then made the short trip back to the Hotel Caravanserai in Goreme for a 9.00 am breakfast and the chance to compare notes with the other photographers in our party. Each day before lunch, a group image review was held a local restaurant. Marsel always gave extremely positive advice on everyones photographs and then inspired us all to greater things by showing his own masterly compositions.

I will comment on another image from my recent trip to Turkey in my next blog entry.

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