I recently took this shot.
I like it, I like the drama and the light to it. So let’s take it apart.
First off, the day I shot, I saw that it would be a gray stormy day with intense clouds. Something we don’t get often in my area but something I knew would add a lot to the shot and also be a perfect candidate for HDRI. Why? well the dynamics are so broad. When you have broken clouds where the sun comes through the dynamic range get pretty high. Also the area on the grounds gets some deep shadow. So knowing that this would be a high Dynamic range day, I knew it would be a great day to shoot.
The next thing I thought of was the water. I wanted to see a lot of drama and movement to the water itself. So how do we show movement in water? A high shutter speed? No, not really, a high shutter speed freezes the water so it tends to “stop” the motion not show it. Really what we want is to use a slow shutter speed. Now granted we are going to take at least three exposure so we know the one exposed for the shadows will be longer than the rest but will it really be slow enough?
To show motion we need at least a couple seconds long shot. Problem is there was still a lot of light. So even at f/22 and ISO 100 the 0 meter shot would be 1/10 of a second. Not even close. So, luckily the Canon5D will go to ISO 50, That gained me one stop of shutter speed. Then it was on to the Auxiliary Equipment. I put a .9 B & W Neutral Density filter on the Canon 17-40mm Lens. The .9 filter is good for 3 more stop of light.
So with that in place I now had a 0 exposure of f/22 ISO 50 @ .6 seconds, a -2 exposure of 1/6th second and a +2 exposure of…2.5 Seconds. Finally enough to get some movement in the water.
With my camera mounted on a steady tripod, mirror lockup set in the custom function and a wired remote control I snapped off my 3 shots in AV mode Bracketing. Checked my histogram for all three and could see I banged the shadows and the highlight hard enough for a good HDR.
When I set up this shot I wanted just a bit of the sun that was below the clouds to show, just to give a hint of what was lighting the rock and the waves. I finished shooting some other scenes all the way to sunset, when the clouds broke quite a bit but still provided some other great shots as seen here.
Once I headed home I downloaded the images from my card to computer, organized and tagged them in Bridge and then selected what looked to be the best compositions to work on in Photomatix.
I selected the three images from above and merged them in Photomatix, aligning sources by matching features and reducing chromatic aberrations. I then went on to tone mapping them using the Detail Method. My settings were: Strength 75%. Saturation 70%, High Smoothing in light mode and then just a little negative 1.20 Gamma and that was it.
I processed and saved as a 16bit Tiff and brought the image into Photoshop for just some final touch-up. In photoshop I just; cloned out a couple sensor spots and then just set my density endpoints using curves and eyedroppers set to 5 shadows and 245 Highlights. After that just a little burning and dodging in a few areas just to touch up and I was done.
A good successful days shoot even if I did get drenched at the end by a downpour. Luckily I had a big plastic bag that fit over my entire camera and lens and the top of the camera so no harm done even if I had wet feet.