Long exposure photography.
I have decided to write on a number of levels… Some articles will be The Basics, some will be a bit Big Picture, philosophical stuff, and then I also thought it might be interesting to tell The Story Behind a given image.
So, what makes Wind ? No, I ain’t going there, for those readers of a more gentle disposition, but I will talk about my image :-).
What you don’t see.
I am sat on a narrow ledge which is surrounded by scrub. It is in Berowra Valley National Park, looking toward Berowra Waters, just off the Great North Walk. It’s difficult to locate if you don’t know where it is. In addition, it’s high enough to make Danger Real if you fall. It’s sloped enough to mean any gear if dropped could roll off the edge. The March Flies and mossies call it home, whereas I can only claim to pass every now and again. It’s beautiful, it’s quiet, you can hear the birds, except on this day it was Windy.
I took around six variations, this was the best. They are all around a 30 second exposure, which you then add on another 30 seconds for noise reduction, means one image per minute. Each variation I bracketed once or twice. I used a Big Stopper filter which means you can’t see through the lens, which also means you have to be really patient and slow. And throughout each image the March Flies checked back within ‘owyagoinmate’ which I thought was a nice gesture from them. Really nice. And at the end I was already very hungry because I had been there around an hour longer than I thought, but still had the rest of my planned walk to do.
And you don’t actually see Berowra Waters. Or the Berowra Waters Ferry. It’s just kind of nice you know they are down there somewhere.
What I saw when I was there
I framed for a couple of things. I lined the rock up to intersect the exact lower right corner of the frame. This meant I could not place the horizon on a Thirds line but I put up with that. The tripod was already on the lowest point so I could not get the camera any lower. The clouds moved so I wanted to exploit the long exposure photography look, and I wanted to get them in the middle of the frame, so as they moved it would lead your eye slap into the middle of the image. I placed the small tree on a line of thirds as best I could. I tried as best I could to go for as dramatic shapes as I could find. Strong leading lines and all that.
What I saw afterwards.
Back at the ranch. Coffee in hand, dimly lit room, only a computer monitor for company, and no March Flies! Well, I had the Hound for company and she prefers sofas and carpet to March Flies anyhow.
I processed the RAW file to sharpen, saturated a bit as I usually do, and increased contrast a little. In Photoshop I applied a Shadows and Highlights layer, gave it a crunch with Levels, and sat back. Time for a hard-earned ale? Not quite yet. It looked good but was too bright. Go on, I’ll repeat the Blues were too bright. So over to my good mate Nik to convert to mono. He did a sterling job. It looked good, but as an image it has far too much going on, it’s overall too cluttered to make a good mono image, despite my trying to go for Strong Lines as per the previous paragraph (you are paying attention at the back of the class, now aren’t you?)
What next? Well, to try to balance the two approaches of mono and colour, I did something I hadn’t done before. I applied the mono Nik layer at around 50% which desaturated the colours, but that left the bush dull. I then masked the bush, and left that as colour, to bring out the green blue of the bush.
Total editing time, around 15 minutes or so, in two or three goes.
Am I happy?
Hey, I’m the artist, I’m never happy 🙂
So, I love the half black and white, half colour effect in the sky. I really like the way the rock at the bottom gives depth to the image.
The clincher is the converging (or is it diverging) lines in the sky formed by the clouds. A good example of the technique of long exposure photography
And I actually didn’t get bitten!
Yes, I’m happy, but I would have liked more Rule of Thirds alignment, with a bit more green…..
Til next Time
The Berowra Photographer