The Low Down

13/10/2012
The Low Down
When you go to a place that has been photographed a lot, it stands to reason that it is because of that, you were attracted to it in the first place. The Lake District, Scotland, Tuscany and the location I have just been shooting, The Rockies, Canada all fit into this mould.

Yes, it is the pictures I saw of the Rockies that attracted me to go there. Having arrived and spent a few days carrying out my own recce on the area, I had pinpointed the places to revisit at dawn, dusk or at some places, during mid morning, when the sun’s rays could reach down into the relevant valley.

It is very difficult when an area has been shot by everyone and no area is sacred, to fall into the trap of taking the same images as everyone else. In parts, it is difficult not to, the only differences to be applied are the weather and light conditions at the time, plus your own style.

I was very conscious of this prior to arriving. I racked my brains thinking what slant I could put on the place. One was using the mist to create a natural frame around first light on some trees. That took a few attempts to get it how I wanted it, particularly for the exposure and subsequent processing which are always an issue with mist - you don’t want it too dark, nor with too much contrast which defeats the object of our desire for the stuff.
Another technique was something I use when photographing yachts or sailboats from a RIB. I can often be seen hanging over the sides of the tubes of the RIB, really low to the water, taking up a really incongruous position often with waves lapping my head (and camera). There are frequent failed attempts, but when it goes right, the shots have impact and provide a different viewpoint. I wanted to try this technique with the lakes and was going to give it a go.

Now, whilst I could get the tripod down to lake level, it proved difficult to compose and the lake was just above freezing with the air temperature well below. Resting my hips on one rock breaking the lake surface, one leg providing anchorage on the shore and my shoulders resting on another rock with elbows and all other parts skimming the surface water, I brought the Nikon D800E to my eye. I was using the Nikon 16-35mm and wanted to maximise the wide angle effect by working the adjacent rocks into the frame. Choosing F8 for my test shot, I had a fast enough speed at ISO 100 so I took the image.

Pulling myself up from the rocks, I checked focus by zooming in. I could do with more depth of field which meant increasing the ISO to give me a fast enough speed. So back down again, manually focus, take it at F11, refocus and again at F9. Back upright, recheck focus on the monitor which now looked okay.

I dried myself down and back on the computer was pleased with the result. I think it has plenty of impact and slightly different from the normal shots of this area. Job Done.

Ian