Sunday, 2 June 2013

Mono Opportunities

Now, believe it or not, this was taken on a beautiful morning, when the sun had risen through the mist, giving me lovely reflections across the pond. But, this was an hour after sunrise, the sun was above the mist, and my morning was almost done.
Being one to fully investigate each photographic opportunity, I walked around this pond surveying each angle for possible images. The lone oak tree in the distance is a personal favourite of mine, and has featured in many of my New Forest images. I love this tree and pond, but have never managed to successfully combine the two, as there is a thick swathe of trees normally viewable in the distance, which makes the oak tree merge into the background. But on this occasion the early morning mist was obscuring these trees – I spotted an opportunity!
Such a relatively simple scene was crying out to me to be shot in Mono; lots of contrast, different shapes and wildly different textures in the log, water and background…
As is usual in these circumstances, to help me fully visualise the impact of B&W, I switched my camera into Mono mode. I always shoot in RAW format, so have to process the image file and make the B&W conversion later, but I always shoot in Mono mode so I can actually see the “finished” image instead of having to make best guesses (got to love digital photography for this!!).
So, I had my foreground interest with the log, a nice mid-ground with smooth water, a distant lone tree and nothing really visible behind the tree – but it wasn’t working for me still. I moved position to place the curve of the pond near the top “third”, but really wanted to see all of the lone oak tree, which was partially obscured by the small bushes. Moving left a little cleared the tree from these nearby shrubs but moved the log out of position. At this point, I decided to employ a little “Cornish manoeuvre” (I would highly recommend Joe Cornish’s book “A Photographer At Work” as it highlights how he works, and how it’s sometimes ok to move things around to improve the prospective  image).
So, having moved the log a couple of feet, I now had my image lined up as I wanted, but it still didn’t quite work as I could see lots of weed etc in the pond. As I was stood at 90 degrees to the sun, I knew my polarising filter would have it’s strongest effect in such a position. Many photographers use polarisers to increase saturation and make clouds look pretty, but they are also very good at controlling reflections. On went the polariser, and I rotated the filter until I got the desired effect – the surface of the water became a virtual mirror. Now to replace the 0.6 (2-stop) Neutral Density Graduated filter needed to balance the exposure between foreground and background and I was ready.
Focus checked, composition checked, ripples dissipated (only problem with realigning the log was the ripples caused) – time to press the shutter, and I had my image.
Exposure information: 0.4 sec at f/11, ISO100 with 0.6 ND Grad and Circular Polariser filters.
Prints of this image are available from my website.