Yesterday my friend and colleague Richard came for a visit, and as we were talking over a cup of coffee, he told that one of his hobbies is windmills. There are three of them within a few minutes driving distance from my house, so we decided to go see Mountnessing Post Mill and take a few pictures.

When we arrived, the sun was setting, and there were some low clouds on the horizon, promising a colourful sunset. We walked around the mill and took the obligatory shots of the front of it, but it was when we got behind the mill and noticed how nicely the sunset was lined up behind the mill, that the creative juices started flowing. There’s a big hedge partly obsucring the view of the mill, but fortunately there is also a solid metal gate that makes an excellent platform, raising the adventurous photographer a couple of feet and thus giving clearance to see over the hedge.

Sunset behind Mountnessing Mill

I wanted the option of exposure blending some shots to get detail in the mill as well as the sky, so shot bracketed series of +/- 1 and 2 stops.

At home in front of the computer, I remembered why I so rarely do exposure blending. I’m no good at it, it takes forever, and the result looks rubbish. So I gave up on that idea, but am very happy that I had bracketed, because there were some brilliant colours in the sky in the shots that were two stops underexposed. In the final shot above, the yellow and orange has been saturated some (not really that much, honest!), but the blue sky had to be massaged quite a bit, with adjustments to remove a cyan colour cast and instead add a bit of magenta for a more “deep” colour, increased saturation, and finally a graduated darkening from the top of the picture to make it say “night” rather than “evening”.

The stars, ah, yes, very fortunate that they were shining so brightly, so early in the evening. Very fortunate that they weren’t ruined by the light pollution from London not many miles away, and it was really good luck that they didn’t disappear completely when I darkened the sky and mucked about with the colours. In the interest of honesty, they were *cough* digitally enhanced as explained by Steve Patterson from, and the brightest of them were *cough cough* further emphasized with a handful of white dots placed randomly on the sky. I think of it as a result of my artistic license to convey the feeling of the evening, rather than a strictly objective record of everything. Darned cough, I hope it goes away soon!

Despite having gone to the park to take pictures of the ducks a couple of times over the last month, my motivation for more creative photography had gotten pretty low.  And although I regularly work from home, giving me lovely long evenings, the motivation for doing something with those evenings just haven’t been there. But yesterday, when I looked at the pictures after Richard had left, I felt some of the old buzz, while pulling the nuances and the subtle details out of the raw files. I think I have turned a corner, and am looking forward to get out and about with the camera some more!

For 240% extra pixel goodness (or, as they say at McKing, “would you like to supersize that?“), there’s a larger version of the picture here.