When three shots are better than one!

December 15, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Long exposures create beautiful soft water effects in low light on Johanna Beach. Walking the Castle Cove to Johanna Beach section of the Great Ocean Walk gives many wonderful photography opportunities. I'd lingered too long with the late afternoon light on the rocks at the very end of the beach. The fast falling light had not lit up the sky as I'd hoped, for which I'd selected my favourite Canon 17mm TS lens (and, of course, a tripod).

But the ocean is always about motion, so I shifted my focus to the water and moved in closer. With a long exposure I got the water effect I wanted, but realised I was missing the small but poignant setting sun. Shifting my lens (not the camera) upwards, I got the horizon with its subtle colours. But then there were clouds, and I wanted them as well.

So, another shift of the lens upwards. By only moving the lens element it makes combining the images so much easier, even with a lens this wide. When shooting this way it's critical to keep your f-stop, focus and ISO the same.

I used shutter speed 1/6th second for the water and a faster shutter speed (1/30th second) for the horizon and sky, as they were much brighter than the sand and water at my feet. Sometimes I plan this approach from the beginning, but sometimes I just respond in the moment to the challenges of the changing light.

Later, in Adobe LightRoom and Photoshop CC2017, I combined the images then worked with the colour intensity for the sun, and subtly for the clouds (graduation filter). Then high pass sharpening selectively on the rocks and swirling water, which was more like a mist floating above the sand.

You can see the three original images I started with below. My final image will still take a bit more work, but for now I'm happy enough with it to share it with you, so you'll know some of the things you'll see, experience and learn with me in my January 2017 weekend photography intensive.

One last tip: always keep a weather eye on the ocean while you're concentrating through your viewfinder, or you just might end up with very wet legs and equipment from that one "rogue" wave that's bigger than the rest!


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