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Thread: Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

  1. #1

    Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

    I have tried a number of times to create a great photograph of Wild Goose Island up in Glacier National Park. This is particularly difficult since I live in Chicago. But when I am there I am awestruck by the beauty and can never seem to capture it. Of course I could buy someone elses work, as this has been done before, but I prefer the challenge. I thinksome of my technique will be helpful to others, and I would truly like any suggestions to help me improve.

    My steps for a landscape photo of this type:
    1. ISO 100 or as low as possible. Although from later reading it may be possible that iso200 has greatest dynamic range. If Anyone has comments on this I would love to hear them.
    2. Apeture f11-f16 This one was at f11, I tried to get nearer to the sweetspot of the 10-22mm lens which seems to be around f8, while still retaining sufficient depth of field.
    3. Use a tripod of course.
    4. Focus on distant object as the fine detail in them is more critical. I use liveview on my 40D which works out great. Make sure tolock asmanual focus especially if later you will be using mirror lockup and timer and not LV when actually taking the photo.
    5. Check internal exposure meter in Manual mode to determine proper exposure. Set the correct shutter speed to overexpose just a little. This may need to be adjusted if wind is blowing vegetation around. In that case a higher ISO and a shorter shutter speed may be required. Take a test photo, look for a very small amount of blown highlight. Check Histogram and adjust shutter speed if required. This will work if you are shooting RAW and can recover the highlights.
    6. Wait for the right light, and look out for bears.
    7. I trigger the photo by turning on liveview, and pushing the shutter button. I have the timer set to 2 seconds, and the picture is taken without any vibration from mirror slap.
    8. Sunrise or sunset will require constant attention to the exposure since things change rapidly.

    Here is the photograph at the end of all this work.

    As I was saying before I wish it were sharper. The mountain peaks always seem blown out. Perhaps I am shooting too much to the right? Maybe it is just orange morning light onredish mountains. I am curious if anyone else has seen this and been able to overcome it. Post your photos too of this beautiful place. I wonder too if later in the summer the morning light is more from the south so you get light on the island itself?

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any comments and tips you can add.


  2. #2
    Administrator Bryan Carnathan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Selinsgrove, PA USA

    Re: Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

    Looks like a beautiful place Tom!

    It looks like you are doing a lot of things right. My first thought is that you might want to try a split neutral density filter or one of thebracketed exposure techniques such as HDR.

    For example, bracket the shot to include exposures with a properly exposed foreground, properly exposed background and maybea few additional shots for working with later. HDR processing can make use of all of these shots.

    Another method of combining the pics is to layer them in Photoshop. Delete what you do not want in the top layer to let the bottom layer show through. You can put the properly exposed mountain and sky picture on the top layer and the properly exposed foreground in the bottom layer. Delete the foreground from the top layer using a soft-edged brush to allow the bottom layer to show through. You can adjust opacities for fine tuning.

    I used this method for the Bass Harbor Lighthouse picture I shared on the site recently. You must be careful to make sure the end result looks normal - it is easy to get a non-realistic appearing image.


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Flagstaff, AZ

    Re: Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

    This is a great shot! I agree with Bryan that playing with some HDR techniques in PS could help you out. In many ways, however, you are limited by the subject. In the case of this shot, that middle peak which seems "blown" is inherently problematic since it faces full into the sun which eliminates most of the shadows that make the features of the other peaks pop out. Perhaps an early morning shot or after the sun goes down would present better lighting.

    Recently I have played with adding an overlay layer in PS. Using a desaturated copy of the image for this layer and adjusting the opacity can add some extra contrast. I have been using this for portraits, but it might work for landscapes too, depending on how you like the effect. You might need to play with the brightness and contrast of the overlay as well.

    Nice shot!


  4. #4

    Re: Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

    There is a lot to like about this shot. It is a beautiful setting and you are doing many things right. IMO, although the extreme dynamic range is a problem, the shot could benefit more from improved composition. First the flowers in the immediate foreground have to go. You need to get a composition without these as they are blurry and distracting. Second, think about how the lines in the shot lead your eye. In the lower part of the frame the trees form a shallow V that focuses attention and my eye is naturally drawn up from this spot. This brings my eye to the smaller peak without much reward. I think if you would have shot this a bit to the right so that V would have led the eye to the more dramatic peaks on the left the composition would have been stronger. Finally, Grad NDs and/or post-processing multiple shots may have helped, but often the best cure for wide dynamic range is get out earlier or stay later. This shot has the look to me of being about 15 minutes too late. If the sun can be caught a little earlier or with a bit more clouds, I think it would produce much better light. I hope this helps.

  5. #5

    Re: Wild Goose Island GNP- How to make a landscape photo requiring a large depth of field.

    Thanks for the comments everyone. It is interesting to hear what your eye does looking at this photo. The flowers are distracting, and infact I cropped out as much of them as I could. I thought it might make an interesting foreground element, but I was wrong. I have never like the look of some of the overdone HDR images I have seen, and have shied away from them. But as I think about it, there are ones that are donesubtly that workwell. I think I remember one that Bryan did from Maine of a lighthouse that I liked very much. I should have bracketed this and tried it with HDR. The timing of the shot is difficult, the color is true to life if you get it early, too early and the shadows from the eastern hills cast shadows higher on the mountains. I have waited until the tips of the Island are lit up, but by that time most of the color from the mountains are gone, and it is a much different scene.

    Thanks for the help,


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