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07-18-2016, 10:40 AM   #1
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Starting point for a personal "project"
Lens: Samyang 24mm f/1.4 Camera: K-1 ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1/15s Aperture: F13.5 

If you don't want the yarn, just enjoy the shot and comment.

<yarn>
Let me tell you a little story about a hobbyist landscape photographer. This little photographer went around shooting stuff, never really practicing good technique and never really preparing for the shots. Rarely did he bother with a tripod and mirror lock up seemed like a foreign concept. Now and then he was lucky with a good shot that the deities of weather gave him and he felt lucky to have cheated nature out of a nice photograph. Preparing for the photoshoot seemed like a risk, a risk that a planned shot wouldn't work out and would leave the photographer sad and disappointed.

Well. The short of it is that that is me.

The point of the whole thing is to practice landscape photography with a subject that is repeatable for me and I can iterate overtime until it comes out of my ears. The attached picture is what my current starting point is; handheld in a rush, shot in poor light with inopportune skies.

The target is a seasonal waterfall at a gorge not too far from my parents'. The gorge is challenging as it is narrowish, roughly aligned in the north-south direction and lined with tall trees, creating difficult lighting at latitudes where sun rarely climbs high. The waterfall itself only appears after hard rainstorms as it is fed by run-off from the cliff above and not an actual river or spring. In short, challenge!

Now, what I'm planning to do is to get myself an L-bracket for my tripod, find the angles and focal length and actually pinpoint the time of year and day that light actually falls from a workable direction and actually execute a planned shot with proper technique when the weather conditions are right. Sounds fun? You betcha!
</yarn>

This is kind of first time I actually plan anything this far so any comments and experience from more methodical shooters are welcome. Also comments on the actual "photo" I start working on are welcome. I do know the photoshop work is kinda heavy handed, but that is one of the things I intend to compensate for in the future by actually planning the shot better to get "that" light.



07-18-2016, 08:17 PM   #2
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This is a great starting point already! I'm sure you'll be able to make the water look amazing with the right setup, perhaps by using an ND filter.

The only thing I dislike is the fallen tree, as I feel it prevents the composition from "flowing". Could be a candidate for cloning.

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07-18-2016, 08:55 PM   #3
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Planning: Check out "The Photographer's Ephemeris" (website and app) or "Sun Surveyor" (app) to see where the sun will be positioned at a specific time.

Weather Conditions: Plan, but be nimble. You might get there and find poor skies or less water than you expected. Find alternate angle or targets to photograph. If the sky is dull gray from unexpectedly heavy clouds, try recomposing for more rock with less sky.

Time of Day: This part may or may not apply to that specific scene. If the sunlight is only right at sunset, bring 2 headlamps (always want a backup) to safely hike your way out. Hike in early if it's best at sunrise. Some locations look best under moonlight.

Your starting shot is pretty good. A longer exposure on a tripod will exaggerate the water flow. If you do that in brighter light you'll likely need an ND filter.
07-19-2016, 04:24 AM   #4
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Thanks Adam, DeadJohn for the comments.

Adam, I get what you mean wrt the fallen tree. It would work better without. Unfortunately cloning is about the only thing I won't do in PP (except healing brush to remove dust spots or water droplets in sky).

I actually have an adjustable ND filter that I can use for experimenting with the exposure times.

DeadJohn thanks for the tips about Ephemeris and Sun Surveyor. It would seem that the time slot for actually having sun light down in the gorge is around mid-day or late afternoon (harsh light, yay!). I have to verify what the lowest angle for sunlight reaching the bottom is. It seems that even the highest angle for sunlight in middle of the summer only reaches about 50 degrees according to Ephemeris. Moonlight is an interesting idea that I may also want to explore, thanks!

07-20-2016, 05:17 AM   #5
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I feel your pain.

I have a similar situation not far from home. A seasonal waterfall, well seasonal is not quite the word. Mine flows only after very heavy rain and can be several years between flows. I have known of its existence for about three years and have only seen water over it in the last couple of weeks. I will post a photo below. The location is difficult, obstructed by thorn bushes and to a certain point quite dangerous, with steep muddy slopes, large slippery moss covered rocks and smaller loose rocks. It is just a struggle to get into any position, let alone the ideal one. Then the light, well it is take what you can get, I am afraid. I have had two excursions there. One with little flow, more of an exploratory trip just to find the place. The second with a good flow but bad weather, drizzling rain and almost no light at all. At least with the low light I was able to get about 1/2 second exposure but I was unable to get into a position where I could even see the bottom of the falls.

Next trip after heavy rain, I will have better footwear and clothing, an ND filter and perhaps a machete to clear some of the introduced blackberry bushes.
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07-20-2016, 03:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bruce Clark Quote
I feel your pain.

I have a similar situation not far from home. A seasonal waterfall, well seasonal is not quite the word. Mine flows only after very heavy rain and can be several years between flows. I have known of its existence for about three years and have only seen water over it in the last couple of weeks. I will post a photo below. The location is difficult, obstructed by thorn bushes and to a certain point quite dangerous, with steep muddy slopes, large slippery moss covered rocks and smaller loose rocks. It is just a struggle to get into any position, let alone the ideal one. Then the light, well it is take what you can get, I am afraid. I have had two excursions there. One with little flow, more of an exploratory trip just to find the place. The second with a good flow but bad weather, drizzling rain and almost no light at all. At least with the low light I was able to get about 1/2 second exposure but I was unable to get into a position where I could even see the bottom of the falls.

Next trip after heavy rain, I will have better footwear and clothing, an ND filter and perhaps a machete to clear some of the introduced blackberry bushes.
Ha! That sounds very familiar esp. wrt. the difficult "trail" or lack thereof. Scrambling on wet, mossy and leafy rocks with a backpack and camera gear is always an experience at least! I do think that my waterfall does show itself a bit more often than yours so guess it is not all bad for me. Nice pic btw.
08-01-2016, 02:30 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bruce Clark Quote
The location is difficult, obstructed by thorn bushes and to a certain point quite dangerous
Remember the slogan - 'Safety Third'.
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08-01-2016, 04:14 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by fromunderthebridge Quote
I do know the photoshop work is kinda heavy handed, but that is one of the things I intend to compensate for in the future by actually planning the shot better to get "that" light.
In my opinion the "light" is already there - I can only imagine what could be done with a properly exposed and processed RAW file...
Why cripple yourself by thinking that an image, especially in digital photography, is only created on site?


Last edited by wildman; 08-06-2016 at 05:26 AM.
08-02-2016, 11:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
In my opinion the "light" is already there - I can only imagine what could be done with a properly exposed and processed RAW file...
Why cripple yourself by thinking that an image, especially in digital photography, is only created on site?
Oh, but I don't consider this as limiting myself. I just am one of those people who subscribe to the "no substitute for epic light"-school of thought. Also I've done some bit of massaging of the raw already, including the photoshop version of grad ND filters, I just was hesitant to take it to quite extreme levels. I have to see how the visualization of the scene develops for me as I work on it. Below's an undeveloped version of the shot.

On another note, I actually revisited the spot later for checking lighting conditions and it seems that sun hits the bottom of the gorge, as per suncalc et. al. suggest, in the June-August 11:00 - 13:00 timeslot. Comparison shot versus the lighting conditions of the original below (I know composition is poorer in the second and of course the waterfall itself has dried out).

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