Brunahorn

March 17th 2016. It was St. Patricks day here in Iceland. This was quite a mild March and quite dry. We lost the tonnes of snow that were freshly delivered the Winter before.

Taken on the East Coast of Iceland during our March photo workshop. Behind this mountain is the slightly more famous Vestrahorn. The locals call this the Batman Mountain because the shape resembles a standing bat. Maybe that isn’t all the locals, but just a few batty ones.

The mountain has direct contact with the ocean, but we are viewing her from one of many large lagoons that dot the South East coastline.

 

  • ƒ/14.0
  • 24.0 mm
  • 6
  • 100

 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM

Medium weight Gitzo
6 stop B&W ND filter
Magic Cloth = Black sleeve of my fleece.

Brunahorn

Background

We found a track from the main road which took us quite close to the water. This was necessary if we wanted to have complete control of the reflection. I chose my 24mm for this shot because I wanted to include the light spilling onto the black shingle on the edge of the lagoon.

The combination of my 6 stop ND and f/14 meant that I could get a 6 second exposure. This would be just enough time to control the light on the right and to include some extra exposure on the foreground. The DOF worked, but I found that the shingle looks better a little bit soft rather than sharp. Also my 16:9 aspect ratio lost some of the near foreground. F/11 would have been a better choice, but I needed a little extra shutter time.

Composition

For composition it was important to stand in a place where I could control the lines that form the edge of the lagoon. I didn’t want them disappearing out of the frame, but I found a jut of land where I could control use the distant edge as depth cues towards the light.

When I am standing in the right place, all I have to control the ratio of land – water – mountain was the height of my tripod. Going too high – the area of water with “no mountain reflection” increases. Going to low – the area of shingle and the featureless sky increases (not to mention further DOF compromises).

I was looking for nice even ratios of mountain, mountain reflection, sky, sky reflection and shingle.

Magic Cloth

This was a tricky exposure with the side lighting and as you can see I was struggling to get more exposure time. Over the 6 seconds I had time for a straight forward down and up technique; down quickly (half sec) and then slowly up towards the upper third horizon. A better technique would be to start with a reverse cloth – starting from the bottom and moving the cloth upwards quickly (.45 sec). After that continue to bring the cloth up very slowly to expose the foreground. Although not impossible this would have very lucky to get such perfect timing. This movement would be using different muscle signals (tense instead of relax). Therefore the movement is not as quick and not as smooth as simply letting your hand drop. Solution: longer exposure.

My only options, to get a long exposure, are:

  1. stop to f/16 (or beyond)
  2. use iso 50 (L)
  3. Wait for darkness
  4. Stronger ND filter.
I think 1 & 2 combined would have compromised the sharpness and the shadow details that I have achieved. 3. would have been a completely different shot altogether. 4. Could the the best answer, but can be difficult to compose and confuses camera sensors.

Post processing

This was an unusual one for me because this one was finished in Lightroom. Normally Lightroom prepares the image for photoshop.

This time I was trying out a Landscape workflow preset package from SleekLens. This is a collection of presets and brushes for Lightroom that have been designed to enhance Landscape photography.

The unprocessed RAW file is quite flat and colourless. It is low contrast and it has a blue cast.

You might be thinking “over-exposed”, but this is an acceptable exposure for processing. The histogram tells me that this image has all the information in the highlights. I have gone and processed many dozens of images that start with this kind of exposure.

histogram

My histogram says there are clipping red highlights, but when I asked to see them, they were too small to spot in the image.

SleekLens workflow

From the lightroom screenshot you can see my history of actions.

My all-in one = into the sun
My base = extending HDR and crispy
Exposure = Darken shadows
Colour correction = reduce blue

Then I went in to graduated filters to use the “Through the woods” Darken brush. and finally I used the Radial Filter with “Through the woods” Warmer brush to warm the sunlight.