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  • by Gary Crallé

How I made this photo of Port Meirion, Wales

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Welcome to my website! It's nowhere near finished (and never will be) but it marks the virtual beginnings of my desire to post interesting and informative stories, photos and news about travel, photography and food — three of my great loves.

So how did I make this photo? First, a great subject always helps. Portmeirion is a fantasmagorical creation of an Italianate village, designed and built by architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis over a 50 year period between 1925 and 1975. It’s an ode to whimsical ornamentation and the environment, a fairy tale of pastel buildings sited on small hills overlooking the sea.

It's also a resort, albeit one in a constant state of repair. Managing Director Robert Llewelyn said his grandfather used “only the cheapest components” to build the village, in part due to the anxiety of possibly not being able to finish it in his lifetime.

​But to continue with how I made my photo.... While my vantage point was accessible to any visitor, my interpretation of the scene is what makes a difference, however slight, from many pictures shot from that spot. To accent the pedigree of the fabled village I made use of an electronic in-camera filter. Most camera manufacturers now offer these filters.

Olympus DSLR , PEN and OMD-EM cameras can be set to record a RAW file (Olympus Raw File = ORF) plus a JPG at the same time. Olympus pioneered special effects with in-camera filters which the company calls Art Filters. Each shot records a selected special effect only on the JPG file; ORFs are left untouched, giving the best of both worlds...sort of.

The downside is that JPG picture files lack the tonal range of their RAW cousins; the image is baked in, so to speak; the file size is smaller than an ORF, and the effect when applying some filters is not always sharp. Having said that, the effects can be quite remarkable. And Olympus JPGs are noted for their high quality.

Could you perform this wizardry in post processing of a RAW file? Absolutely — if you want to and if you can duplicate the sometimes sophisticated algorithms that camera manufacturers devise. I look at these Art Filters as kick-starting my imagination. They have their place: they can save time and add punch to an otherwise flat subject, or change it completely. I think of Instagram as being an extreme development of such filters.

At Port Meirion I wanted something beyond straightforward documentation. Here I used a Pop Art filter to "pop" the colours, trusting that a combination of weak sunlight and pastel paint on the buildings would keep the exaggerated effect believable. My non-Instagram result is an image that's purposely more vivid than life, like a dream that lingers through intensity, begging the question: Was that real?

Exposure: 1/200 sec @ f5.0

ISO: 100

Camera: Olympus E-620 DSLR

Lens: 12-60mm (24mm - 120mm in 35mm format)

Focal length: 60mm (120mm in 35mm format)

Photo and text

© Gary Crallé 2014

All rights reserved

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