I made my choices for this shot and was pot-committed as I waded towards the center of Panther Creek this past weekend, my second visit here in almost as many weeks (with, , , and ). I had my Canon 5D Mark III and decided to go ultra-wide with the Canon 14mm prime lens. The great thing about Canon’s 14mm (& 15mm Fisheye) lens is that it supports gels in its rear slot, so I was able to drop a 4-stop ND gel in there to elongate the shutter. I decided to leave my fantastic Loka bag on the shore to keep excess weight off as I balanced across slick and loose rocks.
Shot after shot, I looked at my LCD and knew that I wasn’t happy with any of them. The shots were either too wide to maintain any interest or I wasn’t getting enough foreground elements to layer the image the way I wanted. I knew that something wasn’t working and I decided to make a very quick change, rather than work with what I had.
So, I waded back to the shore as fast as I could and switched out to my Canon 24-105mm lens with a 3-stop Lee 4×4 ND filter mounted to the front threading. As I waded back to the position from where I took this shot below, I instantly knew that the longer focal length would yield the results that I was going for.
Sure, I could have kept the 14mm on and forced a shot, but where is the good there? Yes, as photographers, it is very important to be able to work the lens that you have on, to train your eye to master that focal length. But, there is also an equal amount of importance in knowing when to change up the glass (if you’ve got it with you) to get the exact shot that you’re looking for.
Just do what you need to do to get the shot. If that means hauling six lenses with you, then that’s the call you need to make.
In terms of processing
This image is made up of three exposures. They were blended with masks in Perfect Layers 2, by . Rather than tone-mapping, I wanted to preserve the pixel information for this scene so I took three shots, each one exposing for a separate tonal range. One for the ultra-bright background, one for the overall mid-tones, and one for the dark shadows. Masking was pretty straight forward, thankfully.
Next, I stylized in Perfect Effects 3. I used a dupe layer of the Fashion Passion effect – one using a soft light blending mode and one using a color blending mode. This combo effect was selectively applied to the water to give it that unique blue color that you see. I applied a small amount of Green Enhancer to the foliage and then a combo of Deep Forest Glow and Tonal Contrast for a balance of softness and texture.
After that, I sent the image into FocalPoint 2, where I used two Focus Bugs to drop the background very slightly out of focus and bring the attention directly to the foreground.
Final touches were achieved in Lightroom 4.1RC2
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