Edwards Mill is a working gristmill located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. Inside the mill, students grind whole-grain meal and flour for sale. The mill was constructed in 1973 but used timber, parts, and equipment salvaged from older mills in Missouri. It is named for Hubert C. Edwards and his wife who donated the funds to construct the mill.
I took this shot this past week while I was spending a couple of days in Branson, Missouri, attending a work conference. This is an unusual image for me to take because I took it at noon on a bright sunny day. I always try to avoid taking pictures during this time of day when it’s sunny because the lighting conditions are usually horrible. The contrast between the bright and dark areas of the scene is typically so great that either the highlights will be completely overexposed or the shadow areas will be completely underexposed. However, second chances are not guaranteed, so if I was going to photograph the mill, I had to do it whether I liked the lighting or not.
There is another interesting fact about this photograph – it is not an HDR image. The HDR technique is often used in this type of high contrast situation to handle the extreme contrast in the scene. Because of the harsh lighting, I thought HDR might work in this instance, so I took a series of exposures, from two stops underexposed to two stops overexposed. However, when I got home and ran the images through Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2, the effect was less than pleasing. The HDR image looked unrealistic, and because there was a slight breeze, the leaves in upper left corner of the photographs did not align perfectly and appeared quite blurred in the final shot.
So, I tried something else. I selected the picture that was two stops underexposed because it kept the most detail in the sky. Of course, the shadow and dark areas of the mill were quite underexposed. But because I always shoot in the RAW format, I was able to use Lightroom to lighten these areas. I then applied some saturation, a slight amount of sharpening, and some noise reduction to arrive at this final image.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 28mm, 1/100 sec, f/16