Sorry this has been so long coming but it’s a complicated image and I need to make sure I get it right.
This is Wastwater based in the Lake District UK, its held by the National Trust and they have done a wonderful job in making sure its stays as intended, no shops developments and so on.
Canon 7D (gripped)
Sigam 10-20mm 1:1-5.6 DC HSM lens
Big Stopper Filter
Hitech ND0.9 Soft Grad Filter
Lee Foundation Kit with SWA Adapter
Snorkel view finder attachment
Canon TC-80N3 Remote Timer
The set up:
The location was vital, I wanted to be able to have a full sweep through the image from the foreground through to the sky, at one point it was a case of getting into the water to see if it was better. Trouser rolled up and in, its one of the reasons I only use average price tripods as I tend to be brutal with them. On this shot I am just in front of a small river that feeds into the lake to break up the foreground but close enough to the river to be able to see the smaller rocks and pebbles in the water.
Camera is set up with the tripod at half height, using the wide angle lens its opened the image up, if you are serious about landscape photography then you have to be serious about a wide angle lens. I wanted a long exposure so it was a case of using the Lee Big Stopper filter in conjunction with the Hitech ND 0.9 Soft Grad filter. The Lee filter is 10 stop filter that allows you to really slow down the shutter speed so I could see movement in the clouds but you can as in most landscapes over expose the sky while trying to keep the land at the true level. The Hitech filter allows me to expose for the land while keeping the sky at the right level. AS the camera is low to save me having to bend down I attach the snorkel to the viewfinder, this simply allows me to stand upright while looking through the finder at the image.
One of the issues with the Lee Big Stopper is because it is so black you will not be able to auto focus the lens, nor will you be able to hold the shutter open more than 30 seconds (Canon default) in manual mode. To get around this you have to set the camera up in manual and do a few alterations before taking the image, its done thus.
Set your shot as normal through the viewfinder, in this case I used hyper focus to get the whole image in focus. To do this I use Manual Select AF Point Expansion set at the lower part of the grid. I focus some 30 foot into the frame at a low aperture rate and it will bring the image into full focus, more information here: http://www.great-landscape-photography.com/hyperfocal.html Once you have set up the shot you need to change from auto focus to manual (You need to be careful to disturb little with the camera at this stage) and from manual to bulb. Double check were your aperture is set when in bulb mode to ensure it matches what you had in manual, remember your camera will retain the last settings used. Once done you slide the Lee Big Stopper into place in the filter holder, set your remote timer and press the shutter and keep still.
The camera setting for this shot are:
Exposure Time: 100 sec
Focal Length: 10mm
Bulb mode with manual focus
Once you have taken the shot it’s a case of reviewing what you have done and then set up again, you have to go through this each time but the end results justify the work involved. Image as normal is saved in RAW as is all images I take.
To begin with the image is opened as a raw file in CS5, one of the issues with using the Lee Big Stopper is you do get a blue colour cast and even with the SWA adapter you will get some vignetting, the colour cast you put right in CS5 RAW by simply adjusting the white balance sliders along with the recovery, fill light on the basic setting and the tone curves until you get it back to were you need them. At this point you need to save the file as a DNG file as we want to tone map it a small amount. I use Photomatix, I know there are other plug ins in CS5 etc but I am comfortable doing it this way, you can though use whatever program you prefer. The issue with vignetting is dealt with after tone mapping. I open the DNG file in Photomatix (I only ever use single files to convert to HDR) The vital setting I use here are:
Colour Saturation: 73
White Point: .07
Black point: 0.03
The rest are down to yourself, even theses can be tweaked but please don’t use pre-sets, you doom all your images to look the same if you do.
Once done the image is put through CS5 once again to deal with the vignetting, once in CS5 open the image in Color Efex pro and we are going to use darken lighten centre mode but we are going to flip it, using the slider we lighten the outer edges and if need be darken the centre, we will also alter the centre size to get it right. This is one of those stages you just have to play with until you get the levels right. From here I take the image into Lightroom 3 so I can adjust individual colours in HSL mode and I have increased the saturation and luminosity on both the greens and the blues of the sky to make the image pop, I also play with the clarity and temperature in here, I take the temp slightly toward the warm side as its more appealing than colder tones. Apart from a few minor tweaks that’s about it. Keep an eye on noise and adjust to suit but if you keep your IS) level to low when shooting it should not be too bad.