I'm afraid that being on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks has affected the quantity (and quality) of my blog posts. This week Don Smith and I are on Kauai in Hawaii for a workshop. As you might imagine, it has been pretty grueling having to endure the relentless din of crashing surf and wind-jostled palms, and as if that wasn't bad enough, each day the temperature here soars to 82, only to plummet to a frigid 74 overnight! And if I see another rainbow I think I'll scream. Somehow we've managed to tough it out, and trooper that I am, I promise to post images from the trip once I return home and recover from the ordeal.
One thing this trip has done is underscore my appreciation for my graduated neutral density filters. Since most of my sunrises and sunsets here have been facing the sun (a rare opportunity being on an island offers), I've had to deal with tremendous dynamic range each day. I've never been satisfied with the artificial results of HDR software and simply refuse to use it. Photoshop blending can be effective, but it's a lot of work and even then I'm not always entirely satisfied. So I'm very thankful for my plain old GND filters that enable my to hold back the brilliant sunrise/sunset highlights while pulling up detail in the foreground rocks and surf.
For this sunrise scene from Mono Lake, I arrived early enough to plan my composition, make my exposure settings, and ready my filters well before the sun arrived. I opted for f16 to get the sunburst effect (the smaller the aperture, the more pronounced the effect). When it came time to shoot I stacked a 2-stop hard and 3-stop reverse for 5 stops of correction at the horizon.
I prefer holding my GNDs to dealing with the awkwardness and potential vignetting of the screw-on filter holders. While the straightness of the horizon here makes makes things easier, I still need to contend with the transition between the dark and light areas of the filter. When my exposures are long enough, moving the filter up and down slightly during exposure helps blur the transition. Dodging and burning in Photoshop is the final touch.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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