I captured this image on my birthday in January of 2007, during a relaxing, “lone wolf” type solo adventure to Crystal Cove State Park here in Southern California. Back then in 2007, I was shooting on a Nikon D70. (This was before Nikon had even announced their first full-frame camera, the $5,500 D3, let alone the more affordable D700!)
The Equipment and Settings
- Nikon D70
- Tokina 17mm f/3.5 ATX Pro (very rare, not always available!)
- Giottos Tripod
- RRS Ballhead
- 1/4 sec. @ f/8 and 15 sec. @ f/16, ISO 200
- Manual Exposure, Cloudy WB, RAW
The Shooting Conditions
At the time I was very much into shooting with graduated neutral density filters, because I was also very much into shooting slide film. However in this shot, I opted for a quick two-shot HDR instead. The horizon was simple enough, so I was hoping that the blending would be easy.
I started with a 1/4 sec. exposure at f/8 for the highlights in the sky, (Seen on the right, above) however when I went to increase my exposure for the foreground I found that f/8 was not giving me the foreground sharpness that I really wanted, so I had to stop down my aperture all the way to f/16 and increase my exposure to 15 seconds. (Seen on the left.) This finally gave me the sharpness and exposure I wanted in all areas of the image, with two images that had a 5-stop difference overall. (By the way, that old Tokina 17mm f/3.5, although not the most incredible lens on full-frame, was a PERFECT wide-angle prime for my old crop-sensor D70! In fact to this day, the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 series lens is the only 17mm prime lens available for both full-frame and crop-sensor cameras! Of course Nikon does have an 18mm f/2.8 AF and an 18mm f/4 manual focus, but neither of them have much better corners and are far more pricey than the Tokina.)
I merged the image in Photoshop using a simple layer mask; for a video demonstration of this technique please click HERE! Before the merge however, I started by applying the SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 preset “Vivid Landscape” to both images, and then tweaking just the exposure and contrast to my taste for each image.
Even though I had a hunch that my final image would be in B&W, I merged the exposures in color just in case. The resulting color HDR image looked like this:
Finally, I converted the image to B&W and did a small amount of burning, dodging, and other local contrast boosting using the SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 Preset system‘s “Sky, Cloud, Ocean” enhancement brush. Voila!
Thank you all so much for reading, and until next time happy clicking and take care!
The Lightroom 4 Preset System
The SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 Preset System is designed to enable users to achieve virtually any look and effect within 3-5 simple clicks. From basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more. The sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available. Click the link above to learn more/purchase.
You can also purchase the LR4 Preset System as part of the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection.