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Autumn Colours at Vimy Ridge By Doug Lodge
CREDIT: Doug Lodge
Autumn Colours at Vimy Ridge By Doug Lodge

DETAILS AT TAKING STAGE:  (Concept, Date, Time, Location, Weather, Camera details etc.)           

An hour’s stop off at Vimy Ridge Memorial, Arras, France following a wine tasting trip to Burgundy. Because it was such a fantastic day and we had some time to kill our coach driver decided to make a detour to show us the memorial, built by the Canadians to commemorate their fallen from WW1.  

Taken at 12.35 pm on 21st October, 2018 with my Nikon D850, using a Nikkor 24 -70, f2.8 lens. Settings were ISO 250, f/10 at 24mm with a 1/250th second exposure, hand held. As it was very bright in the midday, autumn sun I added a circular polariser to try to kill some of the light and reduce the heat haze a little. It also helped to give a fantastic blue to the sky, contrasting against the almost white of the monument and bring out the copper in the changing leaves on the trees. 

I took several shots of the memorial against the blue sky but, once home, felt this one of the trees, making the monument play second fiddle to their colour was my favourite. Also, it was an angle no one else was using so, for better or worse, gives the scene a more unusual take. I would have liked to change my position a little bit more but, fortunately, the signs which said, ‘danger unexploded ordinance’ were in English as well as French!         

DETAILS AT PROCESSING STAGE: (Editing, Printing, Digital Manipulation details etc.)       

Edited in Lightroom. Standard RAW editing but altered the white balance to give the scene a warmer feel. I used a little more on the vibrancy slider than I normally do and added a minimal amount of saturation to the red and orange sliders and actually took a little out of the blue! Also, a little detail enhancing in NIX. 

Printed on my Epson SureColor P600 using standard Epson inks. My first print was on Innova Fibra Print Baryta 310 g/m which gave a very clear, almost clinical appearance to the scene, so I had a go with Permajet FB Distinction 320 g/m which, although not so crisp as the Baryta, deepened the colours (probably too much for some people) to give, what I feel, is an arty appearance that brings back fond (photographic) memories of the visit. 

OTHER REMARKS 

I made two mistakes when I put this image in for a club competition. Firstly, I called it Vimy Ridge Memorial when the trees are the main focal point. Secondly, I printed it as a standard 16 x 9 which gave far too much green in the foreground with nothing on it and likewise too much blue overhead. I think I should have used the letter box crop in the first place. 

CRITIQUES 

I enjoyed this very different image of Vimy Ridge which I have visited a few times. The balance between the line of trees and the monument works extremely well and the diminutive figures give a sense of scale, so it is strong on composition. The autumnal colours were a bonus but I would prefer the blue reduced a little. 

The contrast of the sky against the orange / red of the leaves sets the image off very well. The letterbox format is right but where to crop the trees on the left must have been a problem. The leaning trunk on the extreme left is fine. I wonder why there are two bare trees in the middle of the row, which by your positioning echo the two pylons? 

Gosh, you’ve some blue ink with this, Lightroom must have been almost on steroids! The over saturated blue sky aside, this is a very effective image. I like the composition a lot. I may have been tempted to remove the people in front of the memorial to make the image and its message so much stronger. 

I think both blue and green channels could do with pulling back a little to make this look more natural. 

I like the strong colours, but over saturated for my taste. People are small enough not to detract. 

It seems as though the living trees are waiting patiently in line to pay their respects to the fallen cohort of humanity represented by the Memorial. The bareness of the sky and foreground greatly enhance the poignancy of the scene. Over saturated for my taste, a colder appearance would have worked better given the sombreness of the subject matter.