In this new series of articles, I’m going to dedicate each one to a single shot I think is worth discussing, take it apart and dissect it, and then explain each and every aspect, including composition, parameters, post processing, all the way down to choosing its title. I hope you’ll benefit from reading about my workflow.
The first shot I’m going to talk about is a personal favorite, shot during my first of two 'Land of Ice' photographic workshops earlier this year. One of the most popular photography locations in Iceland is the glacier beach, pitch-black and covered in countless glaciers disconnected from Vatnajökull glacier, dropping to the famous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, carried by the small stream connecting the lagoon to the ocean and deposited back on shore by the Atlantic.
|'Dark Matter', Glacier Beach, Iceland. 2013|
The entire day was quite stormy, starting at sunrise. Instead of the classic red-orange colors we got major storm clouds, rain and wind. But as always in Iceland, you have to take advantage of the opportunities nature gives you, and an opportunity quickly arose. The rainclouds gave way just a bit, allowing for the sun to add a tint of color to the scene. Added to the carefully-selected foreground, this resulted in a very dramatic shot, full of motion and atmosphere.
It's no easy matter to combine all the aspects needed to execute such an image. To start analyzing the shot, let’s understand at how I got to capture this glacier exactly when the waves formed such wonderful lines. The secret is this: in this beach, the sand’s slope is very moderate, meaning the waves go very deep inland, and take their time receding back to the ocean.
This means that a) you need to be extremely careful not to get chased down by a rogue wave, getting yourself and your precious photo gear soaked and b) you have, relatively speaking, quite a long time to run to your preferred foreground, stick you tripod legs deep and hard into the sand to avoid camera-movement, compose and take the shot while the flow is still happening. That’s exactly what occurred here. I noticed this beautiful glacier, waited until a big wave came and when it started to recede, I got to the position as fast as I could, getting the water-lines in the shot.
Next, let’s inspect the equipment and image parameters. I shot the image with my Canon EOS 5D mark III, using a Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II lens, a Lee 0.9 Pro Glass ND filter to make the exposure longer and a Lee 0.6 grad to balance the lighter sky. I took a 1.6 second exposure to ensure motion blur in the water at ISO 200, at an aperture of F13. The relatively narrow aperture setting allowed for a longer exposure time, but I selected it mainly to ensure sufficient depth of field, as I was quite close to the foreground.
Next, I’ll explain the shot’s most important aspect: composition. A well-known compositional guideline is the creation of balance in the weight which different elements carry in the frame. Here, I positioned the glacier in the foreground was put to the left of the shot to counterbalance the dominant yellow patch of sunrise color on the right. Had I put the glacier to the right, there wouldn’t have been anything interesting on the left and the image would appear imbalanced, having too much compositional weight on its right hand side.
Another important thing about the composition here is the fact that if we study the image from bottom to top, the flow of water takes us left up until about mid-height, and then turns right, straight to the gushing waves surrounding the second, further glacier. The flow is then completed when reaching the brightly-colored yellow clouds.
The composition is really what makes the image so appealing, but one needs to optimize the other aspects as well. Let’s see what I’ve done in post processing.
Below is the original RAW file, before adjustment. As you can see, it’s not very different to the final result, but there are several points I’d like to discuss and demonstrate. The RAW file was processed in Adobe Camera Raw and saved as a TIF file, and then processed further using Photoshop CS6.
|The original RAW file, viewed in Camera RAW 7.4|
First, I didn’t have time to make sure the camera was perfectly leveled, since I was trying to get the shot before the wave had completely receded. This, plus the lens aberrations were corrected in ACR using the lens correction tool. Notice I cancelled the vignetting correction since I actually found it rather appealing. I even added some post-crop vignetting to intensify the effect.
|The lens-correction tool parameters, cropping and aligning the image.||Adding vignetting.|
Another thing I did was to add contrast and clarity to the image, to better emphsize the shapes and lines.
|Adding contrast and clarity helped me make the compositional components more well-defined.|
Next, let’s look at the local adjustments I made in ACR, from top to bottom. The adjustment levels are visible in the sliders to the right, and where I added masks, the masked areas are red.
Upon completing these adjustments I saved the file as a TIF and went on to boost the levels just a little in Photoshop. I then converted it to the widely-compatible sRGB colorspace for Internet-use, applied a sharpening pass and I was done.
The final, but also important step was naming the image. I wanted the title to complement the visuals by emphasizing the darkness and stormy weather, and I think that 'Dark Matter' is appropriate. I think it reflects the emotion carried in the image. I hope you agree!
Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer and photography guide based in Israel. Every January, Erez guides his Iceland winter photograpy workshops: 'Land of Ice' in the south and 'Winter Paradise' in the north and west. If you'd like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your photography guide, you're welcome to see the workshop webpages for details and participation, and view Erez' Iceland gallery.
More from Erez about the subject can be found in his article 'Winter Photography in Iceland'.
Jun 4, 2016
May 21, 2016
May 29, 2016
May 26, 2016
|Global Reach by cjf2|
|Maligne Lake by Pete of Oz|
from - Mountain Lake - (Full Colours only + A Border)
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.