A year ago I was tinkering with an image that juxtaposed rock formations from Bryce Canyon in Utah and the lithified cliffs on Kauai. It was an interesting concept but needed some work, to put it mildly.
Well, after having had a year to ponder what would improve the image, I was back on Kauai and ready to try again. This time I had some additional tricks up my sleeve:
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris, a handy little tool for telling where the sun will be when you’re shooting landscapes. Unfortunately, what it showed me is that December is exactly the wrong time of year to get the direction of light I needed.
- I’ve learned a teeny bit – probably just enough to be dangerous – about using high dynamic range (HDR) to compensate for less-than-optimal lighting. To oversimplify, this is a way of combining several shots of the same scene, taken at different exposures, using only the parts of each that are correctly exposed. In this scene, getting any detail in the rocks meant that the ocean and sky behind would be terribly overexposed.
- Getting those multiple shots that can be overlaid and turned into an HDR image pretty much requires a tripod. I compromised on a Gorillapod, a highly portable mini-tripod. It’s not as sturdy as a full-size model, but it’s useful and more to the point, it’s small and light enough that it’s not a burden to schlep along. (The downside is there’s a teeny bit of wiggle, and so this image isn’t sharp enough to print at any great size.)
- And a New Year’s tip of the hat to my photosensei, who taught another great class at Castle Hill this past summer. I learned a lot more about blending images and layers and all the technical stuff that went into making this image.
Click on the image below to see a larger version. It’s still not perfect, but as proof of concept I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished here. If I ever get to Kauai in the summer, maybe I’ll do one more shoot – but somehow “Hoodoo/Poipu – take 3” doesn’t have the same ring to it…