Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From the Bottom

It's been one of those days. The car broke down, the dishwasher flooded, the kids were... well... actually, the kids were really good. So never mind. It wasn't that bad. Still. I'm tired. Too tired to process any images. But, I have one I haven't posted yet. This is Havasu Falls from the bottom.

This shot was more complicated to process than some of the others. First, there's the sky. The horizon, here, is not straight, so using a Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter doesn't help me. A GND - for those of you who don't know - is a (usually) rectangular sheet of plastic that fits neatly into an adapter in front of your lens. The top half of the filter is darker than the bottom half - so less light can enter the lens from the top than the bottom.

These filters are perfect for sunset or sunrise shots - where the sky is bright and the ground is dark... and the filter can slide up or down to allow the photographer to adjust for the position of the horizon. Different GND filters are useful for different situation - soft, hard, 1 stop, 3 stop... etc. I won't go into that too deeply for fear of boring everyone. Suffice it to say that these are incredibly useful little buggers if you enjoy landscape photography.

In this Havasu Falls photograph, the line between sky and ground isn't straight. So, a GND will make a dark line across the tops of the mountains - which is not the look I'm going for. Instead, I took three photographs of the same spot - using a remote release for my camera. The first shot was exposed correctly for the sky - so the sky looked great, but the ground was way too dark. The second shot was exposed correctly for the ground - which meant the sky was blown completely. And the third shot was in between the others.

I used Photoshop - my digital darkroom - to combine these three images and create a final photograph that looks as much like the real location as possible. It's a complicated process, and very time consuming - but I like the results. The image looks like the real location, so I think I've accomplished my purpose here.

You guys will have to tell me how much detail you want from my posts. Some people don't care about technical details, and others are hungry for them. So - if you have questions about GND filter - or anything else, please don't hesitate to comment on this post and ask. I'll see if I can answer your questions. And if I don't know the answer, I'll see if I can find out. That's how I learn. :)

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Anonymous anush said...

Hi Varina - I love your pictures. and include as many details as possible!

April 23, 2008 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Varina Patel said...

Thanks very much, Anush. I'm glad people are getting something from these posts - I hope the technical details help.

Varina Patel

April 23, 2008 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger $ydney said...

Hi Varina,

I have been browsing through your website and blog and I must say the images are awesome. I would like to know if you have any PDF version of the iHDR technique which could be purchased ?

I would certainly look for more on the GND technical details. Like how to decide on the stops of the GND.

You could write to me on

Looking forward to your reply.

Thanks and regards,
Sydney Alvares

January 8, 2010 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger $ydney said...

Dear Varina,

I have been going through your's and Jay's collection and must admit it's awesome!! I would certainly apreciate more technical details on the GND stop selection etc.

Currently I am based in India and would like to know if there's any PDF downloadable verion of the iHDR, which could be bought online ?

Looking forward to your reply.

Thanks and regards,
Sydney Alvares

January 8, 2010 at 5:40 AM  

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