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Author Topic: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley  (Read 2267 times)

Vieri Bottazzini

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Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« on: November 03, 2017, 04:04:18 am »

A stormy sunrise in Badwater, taken during one of my Death Valley Workshops last January.



With the Leica S (007), Leica Super-Elmar-S 24mm and Formatt-Hitech FIrecrest Filters. Thank you for viewing, best regards

Vieri
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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2017, 07:53:30 am »

Yet another very nice image Vieri  :)

Although I do have one minor nitpick in that the transition between the really bright foreground and the really dark stormy sky, does seem a little abrupt for my tastes. So I would have probably darkened the upper bright mid ground to foreground area a little and then blended it back in with a soft grad mask, to make the bright/dark transition a lot less 'edgy' and your use of a hard grad a little less apparent, but other than that an absolute cracker - bravo  ;)

What you can also do, is instead of using a grad holder which means the grad is stationary and the grad line then becomes apparent, is to not use the holder at all, but to do it by hand and then feather the grad effect by moving the filter as you shoot, as demonstrated here by an old friend of Lula Steve Kossack, although I don't advise scratching the filter across the the front of the lens as Steve does, as you will scratch the heck out of your filter, as you can see in this video clip that Steve has already done. So to get around the problem of scratching and damaging my filter when feathering a grad, I came up with the idea of using a filter holder adapter screwed into the front element of my lens, but with some soft lint type fibre across the front flat part of the adapter (you will need to cut this out from some felt and then glue it on, which only takes a few minutes) before you try this feathering grad filter approach and which I find works really quite well.

Dave
« Last Edit: November 03, 2017, 08:24:22 am by Dave (Isle of Skye) »
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2017, 09:00:35 am »

Good image, I also agree with the previous comment about the too abrupt transition.

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2017, 09:13:05 am »

While I can see the value in what Dave and Paulo are saying, I do think this is a fantastic photo.

Here's my suggested recipe for taking a photo like this --
1.  Spend six hours or so searching the salt flats for just the best foreground pattern;
2.  Set up tripod and camera (with hand-held grad filter?);
3.  Wait up to three or four years for just the right sky to appear in the background;
4.  Snap and process.   

 8)
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thierrylegros396

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2017, 11:41:22 am »

I've noticed that a square format works very well for this photo.

Simply remove 1/4 or 1/5 of the foreground and it further enhance that amazing sky.

As always it's a matter of taste.

Have a Nice W-E.

Thierry
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farbschlurf

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2017, 02:07:05 pm »

What you can also do, is instead of using a grad holder which means the grad is stationary and the grad line then becomes apparent, is to not use the holder at all, but to do it by hand and then feather the grad effect by moving the filter as you shoot, as demonstrated here by an old friend of Lula Steve Kossack, although I don't advise scratching the filter across the the front of the lens as Steve does, as you will scratch the heck out of your filter, as you can see in this video clip that Steve has already done. So to get around the problem of scratching and damaging my filter when feathering a grad, I came up with the idea of using a filter holder adapter screwed into the front element of my lens, but with some soft lint type fibre across the front flat part of the adapter (you will need to cut this out from some felt and then glue it on, which only takes a few minutes) before you try this feathering grad filter approach and which I find works really quite well.
Umm, I just watched the video and am a bit confused. Maybe his tripod/camera-setup is ultra stable (unlike mine), but wouldn't there be any movement/vibration when you do this like him, leading to blurry pictures? When I set something up I try my best NOT to touch the camera. He doesn't seem to mind ...
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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2017, 03:43:31 pm »

Umm, I just watched the video and am a bit confused. Maybe his tripod/camera-setup is ultra stable (unlike mine), but wouldn't there be any movement/vibration when you do this like him, leading to blurry pictures? When I set something up I try my best NOT to touch the camera. He doesn't seem to mind ...

When exposing at over 1/250 of a second, or using stabilisation, wobbling and blurring should not be a problem. But what I try to do to avoid even the chance of that happening, is to hold the filter as close as possible but not quite touching the front of the lens and the felt on the filter adapter ring as described above, which is just for the times that I make a mistake and filter does touch and so I don't scratch it. Once you have everything setup such as composition, exposure and focus point etc, then lift your head up from the back of the camera to look over the top and watch the filter as you gently move it up and down and with a slight rotation if needed.

I will admit that this would probably be described as an "advanced technique" where it in a book and it is not an easy thing to get to grips with and is something that will take lots of practice, but the results if done correctly really are worth the effort, as you will find that you can still use quite a lot of heavy filtering and yet there should still be no discernable filter line showing in the final image, which of course is the whole aim of the exercise.

Just give it a few practice tries and see how you get on  :)

Dave
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Vieri Bottazzini

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2017, 04:11:43 am »

Yet another very nice image Vieri  :)

Although I do have one minor nitpick in that the transition between the really bright foreground and the really dark stormy sky, does seem a little abrupt for my tastes. So I would have probably darkened the upper bright mid ground to foreground area a little and then blended it back in with a soft grad mask, to make the bright/dark transition a lot less 'edgy' and your use of a hard grad a little less apparent, but other than that an absolute cracker - bravo  ;)

What you can also do, is instead of using a grad holder which means the grad is stationary and the grad line then becomes apparent, is to not use the holder at all, but to do it by hand and then feather the grad effect by moving the filter as you shoot, as demonstrated here by an old friend of Lula Steve Kossack, although I don't advise scratching the filter across the the front of the lens as Steve does, as you will scratch the heck out of your filter, as you can see in this video clip that Steve has already done. So to get around the problem of scratching and damaging my filter when feathering a grad, I came up with the idea of using a filter holder adapter screwed into the front element of my lens, but with some soft lint type fibre across the front flat part of the adapter (you will need to cut this out from some felt and then glue it on, which only takes a few minutes) before you try this feathering grad filter approach and which I find works really quite well.

Dave

Hello Dave,

thank you for your comment, much appreciated. About your nits:

1. I never use Hard Grads, I only own Soft Grads (Formatt-Hitech Firecrest, the filters I use, do not even exists in hard versions!);
2. The Foreground was white, the sky was dark; I only used a 0.6 Soft Edge grad here, there was no need for more, and in fact I had to LIGHTEN the sky a bit in post because the foreground was too bright, comparatively; often, when shooting in salt flats, the ground is so bright that you don't even need a grad ND... ;)
3. The technique you mention, I used to use with my Lee filters (hard) but then I bought Soft Edge filters, and it became totally unnecessary to fiddle with waving filters in front of the camera, which creates various problems, IMHO (see below).

That said, I definitely see your point about the transition, I didn't see it that way in post-processing because I remembered the scene too well (extremely white salt, extremely dark sky) and didn't abstract myself much from what I saw. I will see if that improve the image, thank you.

Good image, I also agree with the previous comment about the too abrupt transition.

Thank you Paulo, see above :)

While I can see the value in what Dave and Paulo are saying, I do think this is a fantastic photo.

Here's my suggested recipe for taking a photo like this --
1.  Spend six hours or so searching the salt flats for just the best foreground pattern;
2.  Set up tripod and camera (with hand-held grad filter?);
3.  Wait up to three or four years for just the right sky to appear in the background;
4.  Snap and process.   

 8)

LOL :D Not so easy to create an image, much easier to critique it, of course :D That said, I think that setting aside all the wrong technical guessing Dave has a point in suggesting to darken the foreground to make the transition a bit less abrupt - even if that's what it looked like in the field... :)

I've noticed that a square format works very well for this photo.

Simply remove 1/4 or 1/5 of the foreground and it further enhance that amazing sky.

As always it's a matter of taste.

Have a Nice W-E.

Thierry

Hello Thierry,

Thank you for your comment, but for me cutting the image is out of the question: I like too much the salt formations in the foreground, the ones that look like one of these little man figures we drew when we were kids: see if you can see him :)

Umm, I just watched the video and am a bit confused. Maybe his tripod/camera-setup is ultra stable (unlike mine), but wouldn't there be any movement/vibration when you do this like him, leading to blurry pictures? When I set something up I try my best NOT to touch the camera. He doesn't seem to mind ...

When exposing at over 1/250 of a second, or using stabilisation, wobbling and blurring should not be a problem. But what I try to do to avoid even the chance of that happening, is to hold the filter as close as possible but not quite touching the front of the lens and the felt on the filter adapter ring as described above, which is just for the times that I make a mistake and filter does touch and so I don't scratch it. Once you have everything setup such as composition, exposure and focus point etc, then lift your head up from the back of the camera to look over the top and watch the filter as you gently move it up and down and with a slight rotation if needed.

I will admit that this would probably be described as an "advanced technique" where it in a book and it is not an easy thing to get to grips with and is something that will take lots of practice, but the results if done correctly really are worth the effort, as you will find that you can still use quite a lot of heavy filtering and yet there should still be no discernable filter line showing in the final image, which of course is the whole aim of the exercise.

Just give it a few practice tries and see how you get on  :)

Dave

Dave and farbschlurf, my suggestion is to get Soft Edge Grads and don't even bother with that. The technique Dave mentions it's somehow useful with Hard Grads and if you don't have any other choice, but it has various problems:

1. Non-repeatable results: if you want to take a second shot, it will very likely never be the same as the previous one;
2. Risk of softening the image: having the filter not exactly parallel to the image plane, as it happens when you move it up and down, will result in a slightly softer image;
3. Risks of introducing micro-movement in the image, by touching the camera or my infinitesimally move it;
4. Risks of ruining the photo altogether, if you loose control of your filter movement for any which reason and you, say, bump into the camera, create reflections because of light bumping around on the filter you are waving, etc etc.

Generally speaking, Hard Grads are not very useful: they only work with very clear horizons without nothing popping out of them, basically only if you shoot the sea or a big lake without any object / mountains / etc in the background... other than that, they create a very clear darkening in the objects you have popping out of the horizon, something you then have to fix in post-processing (often raising luminosity, and therefore increasing noise). For me, Soft Grads is the way to go: the only warning is, when you move from Hard to Soft grads, you have to get higher filtration to get the same results. I.e., when I used Hard Grads back in the day I was happy with 0.6 and 0.9 Grads, but when I moved to Soft Edge Grads I had to move up to 1.2 and 1.5 to get the same effect (of course, I still have 0.6 and 0.9 Soft Edge Grads for situations where just a tiny bit of filtration is needed, such as here). The reason for this is, a Hard Grad starts at, say, 0.6 and keeps at 0.6 pretty much until the end of the darker area; a Soft Grad, instead, starts at 0.6 but begins to taper immediately, to be at 0 where the darker area ends, therefore is offers a generally weaker filtration over the darker area.

Hope this helps, best regards

Vieri
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Vieri Bottazzini
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2017, 10:04:06 am »

I agree that the little Salt Man needs his legs!
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RBFritz

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2017, 01:52:29 pm »

Beautiful image! I would humbly agree to the square format though for this one, my preference of course.
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Vieri Bottazzini

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2017, 02:12:20 am »

I agree that the little Salt Man needs his legs!

Beautiful image! I would humbly agree to the square format though for this one, my preference of course.

Thank you, glad you enjoyed the image! :)

It seems that there is no consensus on the poor Saltman's legs...! :D Well, they'll have to stay then, a legless Saltman is not a happy Saltman... :D

Best regards,

Vieri
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Vieri Bottazzini
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2017, 09:54:20 am »

It seems that there is no consensus on the poor Saltman's legs...! :D Well, they'll have to stay then, a legless Saltman is not a happy Saltman... :D
Thank you, on behalf of Saltmen everywhere!   ;)
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Vieri Bottazzini

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Re: Stormy sunrise, Badwater, Death Valley
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2017, 06:32:05 am »

Thank you, on behalf of Saltmen everywhere!   ;)

:D You are very welcome, and long live the Saltmen! :D

Best regards,

Vieri
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