A semi-new addition to the portfolio. This was taken earlier this summer when visiting SC for a family wedding.
I broke down the background of the last shared photo into seven sections, and the response was impressive. For that reason I’m going to continue the trend.
Research: This ended up being an add-on shot to a location that I’ve known about for years (Botany Bay Plantation), and had contacted local photographers about 6 months prior. I’d seen similar oak lined road shots in the past, and had even previously visited Boone Hall Plantation. The original plan was to revisit the location and try a shot down the entrance road. Further research revealed the travel time would be too great (family vacation after all). Some additional research and location scouting turned up this option.
Fieldwork: Soft light here is key. This shot was taken early in the morning on an overcast day. I’d woken up for twilight shots, so getting to this location before 8am wasn’t demanding after that. I’d scouted the location, quickly, the day before while visiting Botany Bay. Knowing the location for certain allowed a straightforward effort on the day that worked best for the shot. Nothing extraordinary was done to get to the site. Simply driving about 25 minutes from the condo.
Experience: Some trial shots the day earlier showed that the result of shooting straight down another road didn’t create the impact and effect that the canopy presented in real life. For that reason the tripod was setup ~6″ off the road for this shot. The low angle allowed the canopy to have a more present arch effect. It also allowed the road to show its slight elevation change. Shooting the trail shots the day before allowed those images to be reviewed that night. It was upon that review that allowed this image to turn out better. It’s generally the case that the best photos, personally, come from visiting the same location multiple times and reviewing the shots in between. That is true for this image. Had the camera simply been kept at eye level, then the canopy wouldn’t have had the same presence.
Gear (In order of importance): Tripod (Manfrotto ???), ballhead (Vanguard ???), cable release ($15 amazon off brand), bubble level ($3 amazon purchase), telephoto lens (Canon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 IS USM), camera (Canon 6D). The tripod has a center column that can be pulled out and set perpendicular. It also has the ability for the legs to kick out almost perpendicular from the center. Both options were used to get very low to the ground. The long lens provided a nice small angle of view and allowed the trees to appear compressed together.
Knowing your gear: 10x Live view was used to obtain critical focus. F/16 was chosen for max depth of field. ISO 200 was used to shorten the exposure. There was a bit of wind, and beyond 2 seconds there was some movement showing up in the spanish moss. Bubble level insured a level photo. Live view acted as a mirror lockup, allowed for reviewing the composition (originally set in viewfinder), and allowed for reviewing of the histogram. Focus was set on a limb 1/3 of the way into the scene. The cable release helped me stay out of the dirt… mostly. Bracketing was done, but not utilized for the final image.
Luck: Overcast skies provided even lighting. There were still some variations due to the tree canopy being sparse further down the road. No heavy traffic on the road (tons of dust when even a single car passed). Trees were still green (good time of year to visit). Only three days to shoot this and other shots. Weather was 98% rain free.
Post-Production: Processed using Lightroom 4. No presets or plug-ins were used. Just an effort to keep it looking natural since what came out of the camera was “clean.” Again, the post production took a good image and made it pop. Not more than 20 minutes was spent in post. That’s more than usual, but this was the 3rd final version of the image. For some reason the original two didn’t feel quite right.