** UPDATE: August 23rd, 2006
I corrected the angle on the horizon that had been pointed out with the Photoshop skew tool on a duplicate layer. It should be level now!
I've had a few people ask why I don't allow comments - and given the content of my recent journals I thought I should explain before I look like a hypocrite! I always like to respond to feedback that I receive - and I'm always grateful when I have the time to reply to each person, even if it is a generic message. But as school has moved on that has become more difficult to do. I reached a point last year when I was spending too much time replying to my own work - I was missing out on the work of others which was the main reason why I joined this site. I'd rather be commenting on work that doesn't belong to me and learning through the creations of other artists. But, and this is a big 'but' - I still like to receive feedback. As a photographer I still have a lot to learn and I'd really like to hear what you think of my work. If you have any critiques please send me a note - I'd be more than happy to read it and consider your ideas / input!
First of all, I feel that I should defend my choice of category as I've seen a few photos moved around by admins within the past couple of weeks without much reason. My intent in planning this shot and actually capturing the scene was to make the pole on the left my focal point or center of attention. Harbourville is a small fishing village on the Bay of Fundy coastline - for many community members the ocean is their primary source of income. They live and depend on fish, and this pole plays a large role in the livelihood of their day to day lives. From fishermen that I've talked to I've discovered that a series of poles such as this are used to string fishing nets from, creating a trap for fish when the tide is high. Believe it or not, but when high-tide rolls in this pole is pretty much submerged - over 20 feet of water! In the end this is the essence of country life
on the coast - a keystone that keeps communities thriving.
Located west of Halls Harbour and north of Berwick, settlement began in 1829 by two familes : Given and Hamilton. The first name of the community was Shingle Log Brook, then Givens Wharf. The current name was chosen in 1860. Although fishing and tourism are the biggest industries for this small community of approximately 200, at one point the wharf was an important shipping point for cord wood, potatoes, and grains. This photo faces North-West - in the distance you will see the island of Isle Haute, and to the right you can see the point of Advocate Harbour in Northern Nova Scotia.
Compared to other shots this one was a little more involved - I'd been tracking tide tables and weather information for a couple of weeks, waiting for the right time to take the image. Last thursday night all of the data added up and I figured it would be the best time to take a drive - the tide was going to be low which would expose the pole and the tripod supports and the skies were going to be sunny with scattered clouds. I decided to get there about an hour before sunset to find the location I had picked previously with practice shots and get my filters ready. As I pulled into Harbourville a cloud bank in the distance covered the horizon - I knew at once that I wouldn't have any colours during the sunset so the best I was going to be able to do would be capturing the sun as it dipped below the clouds. As I set up the tripod and camera a second bank of clouds moved across the sky in the foreground - blocking a lot of the light and darkening the beach. Needless to say I was very dissapointed, but it didn't take long to realize that even if I couldn't capture the colours of the sun the atmosphere was perfect for black and white work. So, the moral of the story is: You can't always get what you want (go Rolling Stones!), but you can make the most of the situation and try to capture a different atmosphere.
I usually like to wait till after sunset so that I can use a smaller aperature with my neutral density filter (a filter that cuts the amount of light in a scene, kind of like sunglasses for your camera) as I've found that stopping the lens down beyond f10 causes some strong lens diffraction - where the depth of field increases, but the crispness of your detail decreases. I'm trying to get in the habit of using f8 or less to prevent this. In this case I couldn't wait that long as it would have been completely cloudy during the sunset - so I decided to stop the lens down to f25 for a long exposure and risk the decrease in detail. The long exposure allowed me to catch the movement of the clouds as they passed in front of the sun, and they smoothed the surface of the water over the course of a 20 second exposure.
The first filter that I had on the lens was a polarizer, a piece of glass that helps to cut reflective light on surfaces and in the sky. In this case I didn't want to cut the reflection of light on the water completely, as it helped to define the contrast between water and rock in the foreground - It was mainly used to find a nice balancing point. Once that was found I mounted the neutral density filter on top of it to cut both the ambient and direct light in the scene. The third and fourth filters I used where two Singh-Ray gradual neutral density (ND) filters. These are used to control the light in the sky to balance the exposure of the photo (to capture the scene as our eyes would capture it by preventing strong shadows or highlights). Because they are rectangular in shape I needed to attach a Cokin P series filter holder to the neutral density filter that was on top of the polarizer. An article that describes how these works can be found here; [link]
The first Singh-Ray filter was a 2x ND which is dark at the top of the filter, then light at the middle of the filter. The second Singh-Ray filter was a 3x reverse ND filter - it is darkest at the middle of the filter, then light at the top of the filter. It allows you to cut strong light along a straight horizon - something that is impossible with a traditional gradual ND as you will end up shading detail below the horizon.
The final tool that I used was a Canon TC-80N3 remote timer cable, used to trigger the shutter and prevent camera shake on the tripod.
Photoshop Work is limited to dust removal in the sky (my sensor LOVES the dust) and dodging some vignetting from the Cokin holder in the top left. Everything else was done by either the camera or the filters attached to the camera. My goal is to step away from Photoshop as much as possible, and filters have helped me inch closer to that realization. I highly recommend experimenting with them as controlling extreme light is one of the best skills a photographer can have. It's a long learning process and I still have a ways to go, but if you have any questions I'd be more than happy to help out.
Canon EOS 20D | Canon 10-22mm | ISO 100 | f25 | s20 | Canon TC-80N3 Remote Timer | Tiffen Polarizer | Cokin 8x ND Filter | Singh-Ray 2x Gradual ND | Singh-Ray 3x Reverse ND | Manfrotto 190CL Tripod |