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Shooting Diary | Mists of Time | 20th February 2010

Written on Saturday, February 20, 2010
Last updated on Monday, February 3, 2014

This was my first outing in a 2 day bender of 3 trips. I hadn't planned to do that many, it just worked out like that.

 

Duncan Smith has taken lots of great photographs of the crumbling wall at Seafield. You can see them here. I wanted to check this place out, so with my usual "Virtual Scouting" tools I went hunting for the location. I knew it was in Fife, near Kirkcaldy, but Duncan doesn't map his stuff so it was hard to be sure. By luck I noticed a land feature in Google Earth that looked promising and sure enough, user photos from Panoramio confirmed this was the spot.

 

So after watching the weather for the previous few days I pulled the trigger and set my alarm. 5:30am wake-up with sandwiches and juice pre-made from the night before! Sometimes I'm organised.

An uneventful drive over saw me arrive at about 6:50am with 30 minutes to go till the sun peeked over the horizon. I cut this one a bit fine, I could have done with being just a touch earlier. Being a bit green for this place I noticed that the lens I brought wasn't going to get anything like what Duncan was shooting. It turned out he was using about 100mm zoom where I was stuck with an ultra wide angle Sigma 10-20mm :) So unless me and my camera where going to take impromptu swimming lessons I wasn't going to get the ruins filling the frame!

In a way it turned out to be a good thing. It might be flattering but coming back with 10 shots framed just like Duncan's would probably be a bit lame. So I consider it a happy accident. Another happy accident was the tide. I never thought to check it before leaving but it was at about 4.5m from a high of 4.8m and a low of 1.4m - basically the tide was high. This meant that while I couldn't get closer to the ruins, it did give for an interesting sea breaking over them.

According to my GPS log I stayed until about 9am so that was a good 2 hours shooting - although I didn't get too much after about 8:15am once the sun got a bit higher.

You can see all the shots from this morning in a slide show here. Note that it's a different version of this particular shot that's on Flickr. Ross suggested a crop which vastly improved the look. Also, the one on Flickr is a pure HDR whereas this is a DRI.

Shooting

This was shot with the B+W 110 ND filter and I took 4 exposures to get everything I wanted. I tend to use complete guesswork at judging the exposure times with the 110. I've made up a chart here which is supposed to let me compensate for fitting the 110 however for some reason I can never get good results. Maybe the math is wrong or maybe I'm simply an idiot. So instead I use the same method Ross suggested at the outset. If it's too dark, double the time, if it's too bright, half it. Keep doing that till you get it right.

Anyway, the first exposure was 60s and while the sky was blown the foreground was really nice. I did a 2nd at 32s, a third at 15s and a 4th just for the sun at 7.8 seconds.

Post Processing

My work flow is Bridge > ACR  > Bridge > Photoshop

In ACR I did the following for all the shots: -

  • Straightened the horizon
  • Added +27 to the Vibrancy

I didn't do anything else to the first exposure, the 2nd I chose the "Auto" levels, the 3rd and 4th I brought the exposure down by 0.7 and 1.75 respectively.

For the white balance I usually flip flop between "As Shot" and "Auto". "As shot" being the cameras take and "Auto" being ACR. Normally the "As Shot" is colder than "Auto" but not this time. I'm always slightly baffled by the lack of consistency with white balance so I simply ignore it and choose one I like the look of.

That is all the RAW processing I did for this shot, now it was time for the DRI (Dynamic Range Increase) part.

At this point, instead of pressing "Open Images" at the bottom right of the ACR window, I click "Done" instead to go back to Bridge. From Bridge I got to "Tools | Photoshop | Load Files into Photoshop Layers". This creates a new Photoshop document with each of the images on their own layer and automatically named from their file name.

Instead of me trying to explain the DRI part of my post process, take a look here. Basically it's all about masking and blending of layers to select elements from each frame I want to keep to make up a final image.

That was pretty much the extent of the post processing for this one. There was a bit of cloning to remove a rock at the edge of the frame but other than that, it was a neutral post process.

Other Images From The Set 

This was also shot on the same morning: -

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