Friday, 28 September 2007

Getting 'THE' Shot

Another gorgeous day, another great shoot. I finished off this amazing week by going to one of the coast's great lakes - Lake Kaniere.

I thought I would use this post as an opportunity to explore my 'creative' process a little more deeply - for those who are even remotely interested (come on, there must be one of you, surely?).

I reached Lake Kaniere just before sunset - leapt out of the car, and this was literally the first shot I took... and I kinda like it. It ain't perfect (get rid of those specular highlights - go on, dare ya), but it has great colour, I love the light flare from the sun and the 'spontaneity' of the image. But I admit, this was just a start.

After taking a few more like this just to get 'warmed up', I attached the camera to the tripod and got more serious about my composition. I was also out to test my new purchase - A Cokin 'P' series filter holder and Grey graduate filter - just the thing for bright sunset sky's and dark jetty foregrounds. First thing I discovered, however, was that the Cokin filter holder was visible at the edges of the frame when I zoomed out to 10mm's! Darn!

14mm was as wide as I could get away with - which is still reasonably respectable wide-angle (about 22mm in conventional terms), so I settled on that and found the composition I was after.

This has a much more 'composed' feel than my first attempts. Some may not like it - but this was more like what I was after. This is a much more 'saleable' image than the first, with obviously more care and control over the light. In this sense, the Cokin Grey Graduate filter worked perfectly and allowed me to get the exposure pretty close in-camera. I have blended the image again 'slightly' in CS3, but nowhere near as much as I would normally need to with an image like this.

Because of my background in 35mm film - and especially darkroom processing - I will often 'see' in Black & White. Don't get me wrong, I love shooting digital, as it gives me the best of both worlds. I can now have colour and B&W (my cake and eat it), and will often do a version of each that work equally well.

You can also see that I'm constantly 'tweaking' my composition - zooming in or out just a little to give a different feel to the photo. All of these images (in fact almost all on my blog) are 100% from camera - I crop very little, if at all, off the final image. This is another throwback from my film days where I learnt to crop before pushing the shutter. 9 times out of 10 for my images this is still the case.

I was now getting there with the image I had in my minds eye, but it wasn't 'quite' right. What I also wanted was a mood - a sense of movement - an ethereal quality that you get from longer exposures and water. So I bided my time, took the Grey Grad away and added a polarizer instead (to slow my shutter speeds by reducing the light 2 stops), and took my 'money' shot.

This is the shot I will frame and exhibit. This was the image I was after. The one I had in my minds eye even before I got in the car to drive to Lake Kaniere. This has the feel, the mood, the light and the composition that I was after.

It doesn't always work out this way - I sometimes come away with nothing at all. But not often. I know these areas reasonably well, and know what to expect when I get there. But in this case, familiarity doesn't breed contempt, it breeds creativity. I am always trying hard to come away with something 'different' - something I haven't taken before, and this is where the challenge, and the achievement, of photography comes from for me. Happy shooting.

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