Val D'Orcia VII This image was an exercise in unifying the light.

It was the end of a long August afternoon, and the light hung in that state of orange you sometimes get when dust particles – or chaff from harvesting – seem to still be in the air. I had been enticed by the way this wonderful track twisted and bounced its way to the distant farm, and had already made a number of images – but something seemed not quite right.

Sometimes you have to close your eyes and see a scene in your mind's eye – and at this point it quickly became clear what seemed unsatisfactory. There was this gorgeous unity of tone – the burnt grasses, the tan colours of the fields, the dusty warm light – topped by a divergent, weak blue sky. I adopted a strong, 85B filter, and suddenly everything fell into place.

A good maxim for the use of colour filtration is that you should always enhance something already present in an image, not try to introduce something which was not there in the first place. Here, the 85B filter has done little to affect the overall colour tones of the foreground fields and grasses, which were already revelling in this end of the spectrum; but, crucially, it has unified the mood – and the picture – by knocking the sky into a common colour palette.
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