Friday, July 10, 2009

Shots of the Day

Disappointed with last night's results I made sure I got my arse out of bed early this morning to take another crack at it. I was amused to see another photog setting up down the shore, and found that it was the local professional who works out of the area. He was looking to shoot a panorama of the shore and pier but the weather was not agreeing with him so he left early.

I, on the other hand, found an interesting angle that showed the shoreline opposite the rising sun. A classic S-curve lead-in. Unfortunately the clouds along the horizon were pretty thick, so I composed and then stuck it out waiting for the sun to break through and light up my scene. By "stuck it out" I mean froze my a$$ off. It is unseasonably cold right now and at 5:30 this morning the temperature was in the single digits with the wind whistling off the lake. But eventually the sun broke through and lit up the shore and trees and lake.

Grabbed a couple here then wrapped. As usual I had a 3-stop filter in place to drag the shutter into several seconds of exposure. The result: despite it being very windy with whitecaps on the lake the water at the shoreline takes on a smooth, almost icy quality that I like.

As I was waiting on the shot above I glanced over at the eastern shore and saw the sun struggling to break free of the clouds. It must have opened up just below the treeline and lit the big {spruces? pines? anyone? Bueller?} on fire. The story with this shot is just the tips of those trees.

So that did it for my chilly sunrise shoot. Mid-morning I ventured out along the lakeside path to see what I could find as I tended to notice potential while running there earlier in the week. First up, this bobbing and weaving dock. Like I said - it was uber-windy today and the lake was pretty harsh. So these docks were jumping up and down like crazy. I'm at f/22 here with 5-stops worth of neutral density filters to slow down the shutter to smooth out that water. And with that it becomes obvious just how much those docks are moving. It would be quite a ride sitting on one of them. At this point the sun just peeks out over the treeline to spotlight the dock and the adjacent rocks.

There were other shots here that showed more movement, but overall this was my favorite of the series.

My final shot of the day is from an outcropping further up, looking down the path and shoreline. Again, seriously dragging the shutter with combined f-stop and ND filters to smooth out that water. It becomes pretty misty as a result - the waves were crashing against those rocks with force. My interest was that misty water, and the line created by the rocky shoreline leading to the horizon and clouds. As such I figured it is better served as a black and white.

I like how this turned out. It is actually a composite of four separate shots, each with specific properties that contributed to the final image. One gave me the best sky, another provided shadow detail along the treeline as well as the water texture I was looking for, a third had the best detail in the foreground rocks, and the final had the best texture in the foreground grass and the misty waves along the shoreline. Multiple layers and masks later and voila, final image ready for B&W conversion and some dodging and burning to accentuate those lines.

That said this last shot also delivered another learning point: regularly check your filters for water drops when working the shorline! I noticed only after returning that my shots were marred by little splotches from water that had collected from the "surf". Sonuva! Looking through the viewfinder didn't really expose them (presumably because the lense is wide open until you take the shot, and the shallow depth of field essentially rendered those near-field drops invisible). And visibility of my LCD was limited given the sunny morning. Oh well, some judicious cloning and healing in Photoshop took care of the worst offenders, the others seem to have blended into the texture.

Hoping for better weather tomorrow. I think I'll forego an evening shot tonight and morning shoot tomorrow to recharge the batteries.

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