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How To Shoot It

How You Shot It: ‘Frozen in Time ‘ – Romance Underneath an Alaskan Glacier

By Guest Contributor on June 16th 2014

How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well! For our wedding and portrait photographers, please join the SLR Lounge Wedding and Portrait Photographers group.

Today’s post is by Chris Beck. He is a professional photographer, and photography teacher based in Alaska and offers photography tours throughout the state.  For more info on his work, visit www.alaskanphotographytours.com or his wedding work at www.chugachpeaks.com. His personal site can be found at www.photobybeck.com.

In order to reach the ice caves, it is about a 2-hour hike through some pretty rugged terrain.  Because of the amount of gear we had to carry, we all decided it best to kayak out to the face of the glacier, and hike up the side.  With head winds, it took about 45 minutes to paddle out there.  Navigating through 35 degree water, with iceberg obstacles, we reached a portion of the glacier that has drastically receded over the past couple of years.  It was cool to see there were trees beneath the glacier where it had receded.  It uncovered a forest preceding the formation of the glacier.  Local university scientists have determined the trees to be 10,000 years old.

We explored the area as we hiked about another 30 minutes to the opening of the ice cave.  Ice caves are formed generally by water moving over and through the glacier.  In the summer months, the glacier is melting, and it feels like it is raining inside of the glacier.  Once in the ice cave, we scouted a few locations that gave us the best composition, and area for the bride to stand and not have her dress submerged in the river flowing through the middle.  While the bride changed (No, she didn’t paddle out there in the dress. Shocker, I know), my fellow photographer friend Matt Brown helped me set up lights and test camera setting to dial in the exposure.

How I Shot It

There is a lot happening in this wet, dark, somewhat raining (from melting ice) cave we were in.  The photo I had in my mind needed to be sharp, properly exposed and have a good white balance.  I shot this in manual white balance to find the perfect color tones.  The additional flashes helped keep her dress white.  A slow shutter speed enabled the water to paint the sensor, and the flashes freeze the subjects.  

Camera  Settings

  • Shutter: 0.6
  • Aperture: f13
  • ISO 200

Lighting 

lighting-diagram-mne8kcadhb

For this shot, we actually found an opening in the glacier, called a Moulin which opens up into the sky.  It looks almost like a large tube, and is usually formed when water finds a hole in the glacier and runs down it.  The moving water warms up the hole in the glacier and continues to open the hole.  Having the hole provided direct natural light to shine in, warming up the scene, and providing beautiful natural light. 

Because the groom was in all black against a dark background,  I set up an off camera flash to the left of me to light him up.  I took two Canon 600’s and zoomed the lenses to 150mm to concentrate the beam of light, and not have it spill over.  I shot the flashes ETTL as they were pumping out the appropriate amount of light.  I used two flashes because I had to have them so far back to keep them out of the wide angle of the shot.  And by using two, it enabled them to recycle faster for more photos.   

Post Processing

Before

Here you can see the result right out of the camera.  Pretty spot on.  I shot in full RAW.  In post process, I used Lightroom to paint the rocks and change the white balance. I also added sharpness and upped the exposure a bit.  I also painted the bride and groom a little to change the exposure on them.  

Here is the result.  Very small changes to the picture to get the result I had been wanting.

After

Gear List

Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8

Canon 600 EX-RT x 2

Canon ST-E3-RT Transmitter

Manfrotto 5001B Light stands x2

Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Conclusion

Photo by Matt Brown

Photo by Matt Brown

On the kayak paddle back the bride, gushing, asked me if I was going to take everyone up there now that we were finally able to shoot this.   This has been on my “must get” list for a long time.  It’s now time to focus on my next “must get” photo, a bride and a bear.  Any takers?

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Awesome

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  2. Mads Helmer Petersen

    Fantastic picture ! :-)

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  3. Jeff Lopez

    Wow, reading the story of what it took just to get there makes the image even more amazing. Awesome story and photo.

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  4. Kurk Rouse

    i’m seeing all kinds of images that i’ve wanted to try

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  5. Erwin

    man what a cool location, and you 100% nailed it with this shot!

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  6. Christopher

    Amazing location! Love the scenery and the colors.

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  7. Duskrider

    Great shot, great shot.

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  8. Aaron Grubb

    wow. what an opportunity. Awesome picture.

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