Although I consider myself more of a people photographer, I will never deny a good opportunity for some fantastic landscape imagery. Whilst I was on an unplanned trip down to Bunbury, I stopped down at the local beach for some sunset images. The time was just before 5pm and the sun still had about 1 hour before sunset. The clouds were looking really good and the water was just amazing.
It is always a good idea to arrive with good time before sunset. The remaining light allows you to scout your locations without rushing for time. It is also a safety thing as well, because often I would stay to shoot late into dusk and the light would be almost gone,
I can always predict good sunset light when there is a small break of clouds along the horizon. Whilst playing around with my camera with some random photographs, I waited patiently for the right light to hit my viewfinder.
There are two challenges with this type of scenery. The first is capturing the movement of the flowing water and the second is the dynamic range in the scene.
The first challenge was to capture the flowing water. It is generally good to photograph with a slower shutter speed. A slower shutter speed will allow the movement of the water to appear as a ethereal silky look. By having a slower shutter speed, the camera needs to be mounted a static and sturdy tripod to eliminate camera movement. To achieve a slower shutter speed, you will need to decrease your ISO to the lowest setting and have the aperture closed down to the smallest value. To get the small aperture, you set the aperture to the highest F stop value, refer to your lens specifications for information about your aperture range.
The second challenge is the dynamic range. The dynamic range is the range between the darkest part of the scene to the lightest part of the scene. The dynamic range in this scene has bright tones in the sky darker tones on the rocks below. It is difficult to get a good exposure for both scenes as a single exposure would either have good exposure in the sky with a very dark foreground, or vice versa: A good exposure of the foreground rocks and water, but with a totally washed out sky.
There are a couple of ways around these challenge:
1: The easiest is to wait for the correct moment, as the sun goes down, the sky will eventually become darker. There will be a window of time where the sky and foregound is of the similar brightness as the sky. At this time it would be the golden opportunity to capture the image. I always set my camera setting on Manual exposure at this time, and gradually lengthen the shutter speed as the scene gets darker. As the scene gets darker, it allows for the water to become more silky without over burning the image.
2: Using Neutral graduated filters
Neutral graduated filters are filters that you place in the front of the lens. They come in different brands and shapes, but the general idea is that it has a darker half and a clear half. When using one of these filters, you would want to place the darker portion of the filter over the brighter part of the scene which is usually the sky and the clear part of the filter over the darker part of the scene. The idea behind this filter is to reduce the brighter part of the scene to match it closer towards the darker part of the scene. Graduated neutral density filters usually comes in a variety of strengths and is measured in Fstops.
3: HDR mode (High Dynamic Range)
HDR is a popular way of photographing in this digital photography age. The idea of this technique is to capture a series of images of a particular scene in different exposures. Each exposure is aimed to capture the detail in the highlights, mid tones and shadows. Once the images are taken, they are processed in a software where all images are merged together to form an image with details in all areas. When this technique is done properly, it has the potential to look really good. However, I won't always soley rely on it as it takes practice to perfect.
Down below are some of the images taken from the day.
For more images, check out my photo portfolio at www.henrylam.zenfolio.com