The story behind my best photo
I'm afraid this might be the best landscape image I'll ever capture. I'm sure some, if not all photographers have experienced the same feeling and thus I am compelled to write about how this image came to life. In doing so, I hope to demystify the creation of such images and inspiring everyone to get out there and shoot more. I hope you enjoy and please leave a comment below or send me your comments using the Get In Touch page!
I've been extremely fortunate this year to travel to a number of exotic locations. I was in New Zealand at the beginning of the year followed by a trip to Zion National Park and then ten days in the north part of Italy. And yet, this photo was taken during a camping trip to a place located two-hour drive from my home in Toronto, Canada. Lake Huron is a lake shared with the United States and if you keep going west you arrive to Lake Michigan. In a nutshell, this tells me you don't have to go to the end of the World and spend a lot of money to get inspired and find the perfect shot.
I always bring most if not all my gear when I go outside the city. Not because I have something in mind but mostly because I'd hate to miss a shot for being too lazy to pack it or carry it. Here's the gear setup I used for that shot:
- Camera: Nikon D850 with an RRS L-Bracket. It's a beast but I love it.
- Lens: Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 - I knew I was going to the lake so bringing a wide angle to capture its vastness seemed logical
- Tripod: Manfrotto BeFree Carbon with a Manfrotto ballhead and Arca-Swiss plate adapter so I can use my L-bracket
- Cable Release: Pixel 3 TW280
at 10:30 pm I arrive to the beach, I setup my tripod, make a few test shots and I land on these settings.
22mm ƒ2.8 30s ISO 1600
A few things to note:
- A high ISO to be able to capture as many stars as possible. It was extremely dark with a new moon.
- During daylight, the vast majority of my shots are between f8 and f11. However, because it's at night, the aperture is set to f2.8 to let as much ligth as possibl while focusing to ∞.
Since I didn't know where lightning would strike in the horizon, I kept the wide-angle lens on the camera to capture as much as I could but that also meant that I would have to crop, maybe too much. Fortunately, this is where Nikon's D850 45-Megapixel sensor comes in handy.
I used Adobe Lightroom to do some basic adjustments, but not a lot as you can see from this screenshot. I don't like over-processed images and I try to keep mine as natural as possible (I also don't do composites).
The final step involved bringing the detail out of the clouds back. I opened the image as a Smart-object in Photoshop and used the Color Efex Pro 4 plugin from Nik Collection to bring back some of the texture from the cloud. I applied a mask everywhere except the clouds and voilà!
The last step of this photographic journey will be to print and hang this photo in one of my already crowded walls. I do expect to sell this print, as I'm doing with others but I still have to make some minor adjustments before I put it in the store. If you can't wait, just contact me using the Get In Touch form and I'll get back to you with more details.
Finally, I'd like to a couple of more not-so-spectacular photos of this unforgettable camping trip. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!