Photographing the Milky Way

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Shooting Tips

Tide Pool Sunset HDR Portrait – How We Shot It

By Matthew Saville on April 23rd 2013

The Photo

 sunset-tidepool-portrait-hdr-16-9(Click here to view more images from this session!)

The Equipment and Settings

The Shooting Conditions

This is a dramatic scene that demonstrates what you get when you combine equal parts of planning, timing, and admittedly a fair amount of luck!

To achieve this angle, I had to climb on top of a rock pile and then have my assistant hand my my tripod / camera.  To time this particular moment just right, first I had the couple watch the waves splash a few times to see where they could stand without getting soaked, and then pose themselves in the right spot.  Then of course even though the spot was safe, their natural reaction kicked in for a moment as the next set of waves approached.

I had to over-clock my D700 to achieve 8 FPS without a vertical grip; which you can read about by clicking HERE.  Basically the D700 (among a couple other Nikon DSLR bodies in it’s class) can achieve higher frame rates during bracketing bursts, so in this case I was bracketing five frames at 8 FPS.

The Post-Processing

For this image as I mentioned, I had five frames to pick from since the D700 can only bracket in 1 EV increments and I usually like to get at least +2 and -2 EV’s from my neutral exposure.  So while I could have used a program such as Photomatix to blend this image as an HDR, in simple line-horizon scenes such as this I often opt to just use my generous Nikon dynamic range and merge two exposures.  I did so using techniques that are explained briefly in this Youtube video HERE, and of course expounded in our HDR workshop DVD which you can read more about HERE.  Essentially, I masked two images together, one for the sky, horizon, and a small amount of the ocean, and the other for the rocks, tidepools, and subjects.

[Tip: Click here for a Photomatix Coupon Code]

This method does still require a considerable amount of pushing your shadows, so I only recommend it if you have a good handle on processing your shadow detail.  (For example, DO NOT shoot in mRAW or sRAW on a Canon DSLR, click on this article HERE to see why!)

Take care, and happy clicking!
=Matthew Saville=

 Mastering HDR Photography

ej add to cart How to Retouch a Portrait... of a Lion   Weekly Lightroom 4 Editej view cart How to Retouch a Portrait... of a Lion   Weekly Lightroom 4 Edit

For more HDR education, be sure to check out HDR Tutorial by SLR Lounge. This comprehensive “gold standard” guide will give you a mastery of HDR photography, from the scene considerations to the actual shooting to the post production. Click here for more info.

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Trey Villarreal

    HDR really does have no middle ground (on average). It either looks spectacular, or horrible. But when it IS done right, it really does wonders for a shot. What surprises me with this image in particular is how effectively the bracketing and post-processing was done with such a fast scene.

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