Friday, August 5, 2011

Getting the Shot in the Field

It was late in the night with a strong wind kicking up when we pulled into the tiny protected harbor.  Through the fog and rain we could just make out the trappers cabin and abandon boats on shore.  We were headed back to Longyearbyen and so we knew that if the weather broke we would have only a short while on land in this location that was rich with photographic subjects. I packed my bag that night, trading out long lenses for shorter wide-angles, a flash, my filters and other accessories.  
Historic Trapper's Site

Early that morning the weather broke and gave us some dramatic storm light on the scene so we sprang into action.  Meg, Paul, Steve and I headed to shore and split in different directions, pulled by our differing perspectives. 

Straight shot of oil drum
I found myself drawn to this old oil drum that had been cut open and apparently used to catch fresh rain water.  It was in the shade of the hut and the sky was bright, a straight shot wasn't going to cut it.  Sure, I could shoot for the middle of this scene and spend hours dodging and burning in Photoshop to "fix" it or I could shoot multiple exposures and blend them but who wants to spend all that time in front of the computer?

Same shot with flash and ND filters applied

Instead I pulled out my flash and set it up off-camera to the far left of the scene to illuminate the face of the barrel.  I then pulled out my trusty Singh-Ray filters and choose my soft edge, 2-stop graduated ND to hold back the light from the sky putting my flashed foreground in balance with the sunlit scene in the background.

We only had an hour in a location where I could have spent days, but I made the most of my time here simply because I was prepared to take advantage of the opportunities.  A few moments of planning the night before and knowing what equipment to use allowed me to capture the image I wanted in less than two minutes set-up time and saved me headache and frustration at home on the computer. 

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