Getting The Shot: House In The Mountains

We’re really going to jump into this Getting The Shot series, as we hope it gives some valuable (and enjoyable!) insight. Often you can learn as much from the discussion of one image as you can from studying broad theories.

Today’s photo is from our trip to Peru in 2010. It’s a nifty shot, with a pretty nifty story.

Upload from July 14, 2011

Camera settings

Camera: Canon 5DMKII
Lens: 35mm f/1.4
Aperture: f/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400sec
ISO: 400

Image Details:

This scene is along the road from Cusco to Puno, Peru. It was taken in January, 2010.

How It Was Shot:

What’s pretty nifty about this shot is that it was taken from inside of a moving bus! We were travelling from Cusco to Puno, and found ourselves treated to stunning scenery and absolutely fascinating weather. Storm clouds were coming and going, occasionally breaking to let beams of light through. And with houses like the one above dotting the landscape, we spent a couple hours jumping back and forth across the bus to shoot out both sides.

Shooting from a bus certainly isn’t an ideal photographic situation, but sometimes you just have to make the best of what you’ve got.


The shutter speed for this image was fairly fast—high enough so that the house itself is sharp. But, as you might have noticed, the foreground of the photo actually shows a bit of motion blur. (Check out the full size version to get a better look at it) It’s quite an interesting (and accidental) effect. It acts to blur the foreground, even with the high aperture. A lovely coincidence.

When shooting on a bus, having a high shutter speed is definitely necessary. During this bus trip we often shot at much higher shutter speeds so that there wasn’t any motion blur at all.

It’s also rather difficult to get great composition when your subject is zooming past you. So we tend to take a lot more shots than usual to compensate for odd framing, missed focus, and motion blur. We keep an eye out as far ahead as we can so we’re ready to get the shot as it goes by.

Finally, try to open a window so that you don’t have to shoot through the glass! Otherwise you might have weird colour shifts due to tinted windows, or splotches if the glass is less than sparkling clean.

Overall, shooting from moving vehicles is pretty fun, especially when you have scenery like this. It passes the time on a long drive like nothing else!

How It Was Processed:

Upload from July 14, 2011

Upload from July 14, 2011

The photo was shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

This image had a lot of potential, but was pretty dull to start with. It would take some thoughtful processing to bring out the feel of the photo.

It was cropped and leveled. As there wasn’t a lot going on in the clouds, they were cropped out, and the stream that leads up to the house was brought into the corner to become a stronger leading line.

There were a few blown highlights in the sky, so recovery was used to bring them back.

Contrast and clarity were increased to add some punch, and saturation was added to bring the colours out.

And then the majority of the work was done with gradients and adjustment brushes.

A gradient was added to reduce the exposure in the sky and bring back the detail of the clouds. Some contrast was added to the clouds as well.

The mountains on the right hand side were fairly bright, drawing the eye away from the house, so I wanted to darken them up. They were painted with an adjustment brush that reduced the exposure, and increased the contrast and saturation. They were also fairly washed out, so the contrast and saturation brought back some colour and dimension.

A brush with increased brightness was used to enhance the light in the image. The top of the hill, the house, and the stream that led up to the house were all brightned up to draw your eye to the subject—the house.

Finally, I brought the image into Photoshop and removed the large bright rock in the foreground that was distracting from the house. I got rid of a few small white rocks to clean it up a bit.

Time spent processing: 15 minutes

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

Extremely Essential Camera Skills

Extremely Essential Camera Skills

A multi-media tutorial designed to help you get control over your camera, and get creative and confident with your photography.

Learn more →


6 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Awesome stuff guys!

  2. Love the photo!

  3. thank you for sharing this.. great capture..

  4. Great shot, and nice processing!! Thanks for walking us through it! You two are AWESOME–I love your passion for both travel and photography, and thankful that you love to share it—and share it in such a wonderful way!!

  5. Love this! It's great to see your process!

  6. Thank you so much everyone! We're glad you're enjoying this series! It's been a lot of fun for us to go back through our archives and verbalize what we've done. Can't wait to share more!

Speak Your Mind


Send this to a friend