Here is the back-story to how I made the May image in my 2019 calendar— A creek with Turnagain Arm in the background:
This creek is barely visible from the roadway. One has to know just where it’s located. And this creek is not visible at all during high tide. I just happened to be driving by one evening as the sun was getting lower and noticed a very small portion of the clear water of the creek colliding with the silty water of Turnagain Arm. I stopped my vehicle as close as I could and as safe as I could off the highway. It required a short hike to get there as well as getting down a steep embankment of rock. Once there it seemed like a magical place that I never knew existed even though I drove by this spot a thousand times or more. I really enjoy stumbling into locations like these that surprise me.
I made several frames of the scene without the camera on a tripod in order to find what I thought was the best composition. I pointed the camera different directions. I got higher and lower— always looking at the edges and corners to be sure nothing was leading out of the frame. I teach my clients in my workshops to indeed NOT put the camera on a tripod until the very best composition has been found. And only then to set up the tripod just slightly lower than the height of the camera at the best composition level. It’s MUCH easier/faster to raise the tripod a bit (using a center column) than to lower it (by adjusting each of the legs downward). Once I found what I thought was a good composition, (note the separation of the creek with the background of Turnagain Arm water— showing just a hint of it) only then did I put the camera on the tripod.
Then I asked myself “What’s my end-game here? What do I want to show”. And I decided that I wanted EVERYTHING to be in focus AND I wanted an extra-long shutter speed in order to show the water VERY silky. So first I had to find out how to get it all in focus. In order to do that, I used the app “Iperfocale” (https://itunes.apple.com/it/app/iperfocale/id512080457?mt=8) on my i-phone. I was at 19mm and the rock in the immediate foreground was only 1 1/2 feet away. So I used the app to find out that at 19mm I must use f/22 and then manually focus at just under 2 feet (the hyperfocale distance) in order to get everything sharp. Which I did.
Then, I put on a 3-stop graduated neutral density filter (GND) in order to balance the light on the mountains in the back with the foreground water and made an exposure. I tweaked that exposure until my histogram looked good. I found that this “normal” exposure was 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 f/22. Not long enough to make the water silky like I wanted it. Using a long exposure filter calculator app (https://scottkelby.com/if-you-shoot-long-exposures-you-gotta-get-this-app/), I saw that if i used these ND filters which I had with me, I’d could get these resulting shutter speeds:
5-stop filter: 2.5 seconds
10-stop filter: 75 seconds
15-stop filter: 42 minutes
So, I guesstimated that 75 seconds would be good. Purely an educated guess, based on how fast the water was moving. I then added the 10-stop filter to my filter holder, changed the camera mode to “B” (bulb) and made the 78 second exposure. And viola— we have this image.
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