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Behind The Shot: Creating A Layered Wintry Landscape With A Super-Telephoto Zoom

Rick Berk (@rickberkphoto) has been involved in photography for eight years, first working in pro sports before turning his attention to landscapes and teaching photography. He loves to explore and travel as much as possible and when he switched to Sony last spring, it was in hopes of exploring more and photographing even more. He’s based on the coast of Maine in Freeport, and loves photographing in New England when he’s not on the road. We came across his Alpha Universe Profile and connected with him to learn more about how he captured this wintry landscape image using his Sony α7R IV and used the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. See his story behind the shot below and create your own Alpha Universe Profile HERE for your chance to be featured on AlphaUniverse.com.


Photo by Rick Berk. Sony α7R IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/60-sec., f/16, ISO 100

See how photographer Rick Berk captured this wintry layered landscape using the Sony α7R IV and Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master.

The Scene

This image, “Winter at the Old Stone Church”, was taken in West Boylston, Massachusetts on the banks of the Wachusett Reservoir. The church is all that remains of a village that was flooded out in 1897 with the creation of the reservoir. It’s a popular spot for local photographers. I love scenes with history like this, and have visited the church a few times in the past, but never during the winter. When the weather report called for a few inches of snow in that area of Massachusetts (and none where I live), I decided to spend the day in the area and see what I could get. I sell my photos as wall décor and wanted to add a winter scene of this church to my portfolio.

Gear And Camera Settings

My camera of choice is the Sony α7R IV, and on this image I used the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. To get this angle on the church, you’re shooting from a couple of hundred yards away, so I needed the reach of the lens to get the composition I wanted.  I like having the ability to print as large as possible, as my primary business is selling prints, so the α7R IV is the perfect camera for me. The 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master lens gets a lot of use when I need more reach, or am looking to compress perspective and create a layered look, similar to what you see in the background trees on the left, which In reality are about a half-mile behind the church.


BTS Photo by Kristen Wilkinson Photography.

I knew when I arrived at the church that this was the spot I wanted to work from, so I walked about a quarter mile to this spot, watching until I saw that I had the angle I wanted, and began setting up. I use an Induro GIT304L with BHL3s ball head. I quickly mounted the lens to the camera, and then on the tripod, and began to compose my shot. I shot this one in Aperture Priority Mode, and selected f/16 to give me deep depth of field. The camera calculated the shutter speed at 1/60-sec. I had my ISO set to 100. I use the Neutral Picture Control in camera, as this applies less contrast and allows me to judge my histogram more accurately, letting me know I’ve captured all of the information the camera is capable of. I then clicked the shutter and made the image.


I shoot everything in the RAW file format, and then process using Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop. In Camera Raw, I left the white balance as shot, and I adjusted the shadows and highlight as needed, opening up the shadows and bringing down the highlights, as I then built up contrast in Photoshop. Once in Photoshop, I used Color Efex Pro in the Nik Collection to adjust color and contrast. I’ve created my own recipes within Color Efex, so I can apply exactly the look I’m going for. Finally, I cleaned up any dust spots and that was that!

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