you said it would last forever / 11 March, 2011 [click for previous image: untitled #118]
you said it would last forever / 11 March, 2011 [click for next image: park regis pool #1]
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Title • you said it would last forever

Every year at the main Gulf Photo Plus training event we set aside one evening to go out as a group: all the instructors, Mohamed and Hala who run and organise the event, many of the other staff who are involved, the assistants, and so on. In past year's we've visited Ravi's (a fantastic Pakistani restaurant), another year we went to a fish restaurant, but this year we had a picnic on the beach, quite close to the Burj-al-Arab. There was plenty of great food even better company, and the opportunity to paddle in the Gulf.

I also decided to take some shots of the Burj-al-Arab and the reflections in the water. I took some shots from the beach but then moved onto a concrete structure running out into the sea. I'm not sure what it was for, but there was a huge pile of sand behind it, so I guess it's the start of some new project. Anyway, the paddling was fun, but the shots were less rewarding.

Here's a typical example ...

As you can see, it's nothing special. It's kind of nice to take the shot simply to record the fact that I was there, but it would have been much better if we'd been there at dusk when there would have still been some light in the sky. Anyway, the net result is an OK documentary shot, but nothing I would blog.

Fortunately though, I found something else to photograph ...

As many of you know, I like to photograph things that are easily overlooked – maybe small objects on the ground, obscure details, unusual objects – things that are there, but not immediately obvious. In this case, as you can probably imagine if you take a look at the shot below, I almost didn't spot this one, mostly because it was just so dark. This is the concrete structure I mentioned, lit by the Burj and other buildings in the distance, and it was so dark that it was almost impossible to compose the shot.

Once I had spotted though I was determined to get the shot, but it proved to be a bit difficult, mostly because I didn't have my remote release with me so could either shoot sub-30s exposures or hold the shutter button down for several minutes in bulb mode (which is never a good idea). Instead then I switched to ISO 800, f/8, and shot a range of 30s exposures. I was fairly sure I'd nailed it so wandered back to the group.

The more I looked at it though the more it looked like a bodged shot. It was fine on the LCD, but the depth of field was too shallow, there was a fair amount of noise, and I decided I needed to tweak the composition. So I went back and shot it again.

This time though I shot at ISO 400 (less noise) and switched to f/5.6 to compensate. This meant that the depth of field was now even more shallow, so to compensate I shot five exposures, each focussed on a different part of the structure. In the first the detail in the foreground is sharp, in the next the detail just beyond that, through to the final shot where the horizon is sharp. I then stacked and masked these images in Photoshop to create a combined version with a much larger depth of field.

After that it was just a simple matter of adding a few curves, taking the noise out of the sky, and boosting the saturation.

Motto of the story: there's nearly always a good shot you can take, you just need to pause long enough and look hard enough to find it.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
image editor
plugins (etc)
9.32pm on 10/3/11
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Camera Raw
Photoshop CS5
Topaz Detail
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