I entered it into a couple of regular weekly competitions on Twitter, one of which being Fotospeed Print Mondays where a photo from that weekend is chosen to win an A3 print. For those who don’t know Fotospeed they make fantastic papers, so if you print your work do check them out.
I was incredibly happy to find out I won this week and am really looking forward to receiving the print. To make it more special as the Photography Show was running at the NEC, Fotospeed printed all the entries out on their stand and invited Doug Chinnery to be a guest judge. Doug is an outstanding photographer who’s work I greatly admire, so it was a big boost for me to receive some words of praise and have him to choose my photo.
For anyone interested I thought I’d share a bit of behind the scenes from creating the finished photo.
This is how the scene looked to the naked eye, a shot straight off camera. Canon 6D with Tamron 24-70mm and Hoya Pro 1 Polariser taken at 52mm, 1/80, f/6.3, ISO 400. I saw some potential in the reflections and spent a little while looking for a shot, playing with different polariser positions to balance the reflections, different shooting heights and exposures to see what I could find.
I was just on a short walk with family so I didn’t have long to spend without getting left behind but quickly decided ICM (intentional camera movement) would be the way to go here. I’ve used this a few times recently and it can be hit and miss but managed to get a couple of photos I’m really happy with using this technique.
I fired off four shots, taken from a fairly low angle to try and match the sky with the water, placing the bank dead centre in the frame, completely at odds with the rule of thirds but rules are there to be broken. Each one was taken handheld and panned upwards during the exposure to create the blurred movement, the difficulty here is getting a steady vertical pan handheld, the first couple of attempts had too much horizontal movement but on the fourth try I got what I wanted.
This was taken at 36mm, 0.5s, f/20 and ISO 125 and is straight from the camera with just my basic Lightroom import lens corrections.
On the camera I had it set to a black and white picture style, so the on screen preview showed something more like the image below, which has no processing other than black and white selected in Lightroom. It was always going to be a mono photo so setting the picture style on the camera gives better feedback while shooting as to whether the image is working or not.
You can see with no real processing this isn’t far off the final image at the start of the blog but is a bit flat, lacking contrast. I wanted to go for quite a dark film look with a bit of vignette and graining, here are the Lightroom settings used to get from this to the finished product, any setting not mentioned was left at default.
Contrast +24, Shadows +31, Blacks -17, Clarity +21, Vignette -38, Grain 30, Grain Size 32, Grain Roughness 60
The tone curve shown below brings the lowest black point up slightly which was part of the film look I was aiming for, it compresses the dynamic range of the image giving a dark grey for the darkest areas of the trees rather than a crisp black.
You can see from this that there wasn’t much editing involved, most of the work was done in camera and it just needed a few small tweaks to achieve the feel I had in mind at the time. I have nothing against doing significantly more processing and will often spend longer than this in Lightroom, but it’s nice to have less to do.
Hopefully this gave some insight into the process I used from first looking at the scene to the final image. I’d definitely recommend giving some ICM a try, you can end up with a lot of shots that don’t work and some can be a bit cliché but it’s great fun to experiment with and can help create something special from an otherwise difficult location.