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An evening spent in silence

By Bp122
This is my first serious attempt at proper landscape photography. Up until now, it was just like I'm walking around with my camera, I see a scene and I took a picture of it. But this time, I had scouted for the location early on, arrived half hour before sunset and setup the tripod, tried polarized filters etc, test shots - the whole thing!

Now, I want to learn more about landscape photography, I have been exploring a few compositions and techniques. Only after I took this shot, I came across a term "hyperfocal distance" - I still am not clear on what that means and whether or not it really matters. While taking the shot, I just placed the focal point on the edge of the hay bale. I tired the same shot at f/16, but at the time I figured f/11 could give me the depth I need, so decided to sacrifice the extra depth for shutter speed.

After coming home and seeing it on a large screen, the background is a bit soft and I didn't get the result I was after. What I was really after was a shot which was sharply in focus almost throughout. Then I learn't from youtube that some people capture multiple exposures at different focusing points (foreground, middle and backgrounds) and then blend the images together (focus stacking).

Is there a way to achieve the result I am after with just one exposure?
Is there a technique or process I am missing?

This image was processed in lightroom, I have brought up the details from the shadows a bit, and have added a graduated filter from top down.

Tags: Sunset Sky Sun Clouds England Dusk Hay bales Golden hour Buckinghamshire Landscape and travel

Comments


mex 12 27 3 United Kingdom
9 Aug 2018 11:21AM
Hi Bp, I don't know a lot about landscape photography, most of the better images I have seen are taken with a wider lens, 10-20mm- 12- 24mm this would give a greater DOF and sharper at f18 up. I have done a mod of the image to try and give more DOF, using shadows/highlights and dodge & burn then selected all transform= perspective, hope this helps.
cheers Phil.

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9 Aug 2018 12:23PM
Excellent image!
dudler Plus
16 1.0k 1576 England
9 Aug 2018 1:15PM
Hyperfocal distance - for any aperture and focal length, there is a distance that you can set on the lens that means that decent sharpness extends from half that distance to infinity.

In practice, I find that focussing 1/3 of the way into the part of the picture I want sharp is about right, stopped down reasonably well. It's easier with a wide lens than a longer one. Focussing on the far edge of the bale is pretty close to both, and it's worked nicely.

I'd like a bit more brightness in the bale - there's nice texture there. My mod brings a bit of it back, but this is a shot that would really benefit from HDR processing, and taking three or five bracketed shots. May try a second mod adjusting exposure two ways and recombining these in HDR software. Please ask for more details, if you want them!

Often, people buy wide lenses to 'get it all in' - but you can focus on a detail and get a more effective picture in very many situations...

Bp122 3 13 United Kingdom
9 Aug 2018 2:27PM
Thank you all very much for the feedback.

Unfortunately, this is the widest lens I have on FX Nikon. I may borrow a Sigma 8-16 from a friend and perhaps use it on his DX body.

Fortunately, I remembered to bracket a few shots by only varying the shutter speed. I took about 7 or 9 shots, varying by a third of a stop of exposure among them.
However, I ran out of talent when I imported them into Photoshop (I am still confused by it, as I only use lightroom)

Maybe I'll try to look up some more tutorials on how to process them and combine them.
Robert51 11 7 93 United Kingdom
9 Aug 2018 4:14PM
First may I say I really like the shot.

One of the main things to remember is when using a tripod is to turn the image stabilization off on your camera. Also the only way to get more of your image in focus in one shot is a high F stop. Focus stacking in PS works really well but require those extra shots. The other way is just take two shots and open both images as layers, then use layers masks to blend.

Good luck and look forward to seeing lots more in the future. This is only your first step - enjoy....
dudler Plus
16 1.0k 1576 England
9 Aug 2018 4:14PM
The software I used is Photomatix, and I don't know if PS is now as good (banehawi may have a clearer view of that).

Personally, I find Lightroom utterly confusing - it's a matter of familiarity, of course.

The difficult part is choosing the options for combining images - a lot of people end up overprocessing, and getting a really unnatural look, rather than enhancing the image to look the way they saw it in reality.

For what it's worth, I shoot most things with an 85mm lens: if you go wider than you have already, you will need to go even closer to the main subject, and it will reduce the relative size of the background even further - which may lose the point of it all... The perspective changes, as well as how much of the horizon you can get in, and (for my money) you need to be really good to fill a wide frame.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.8k 2149 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2018 9:21AM
There's an interesting conversation here, that rumbles on through photography... I am not a landscaper, I view this as an outsider to the genre, but I have watched people obsessively measuring out hyperfocal distances, pacing the land. Is it necessary I wonder?

You focused on the edge of the bale, which is a natural point for the viewer's eye to fix on. Would we then see the rest of the landscape in focus? No. (Our eyes have approximately 32mm full-frame equivalent, so close to what you used.) The distance naturally softens. When it appears sharper we actually lose some of that sense of depth, distance.

For me this is a natural, unforced approach. Focus where the 'in the flesh' viewer's eyes would naturally look.
Moira
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4084 Canada
10 Aug 2018 6:24PM
I have uploaded a mod; its a lot brighter, as including the Sun in the shot will drive down exposure significantly.

At 28mm on a full frame sensor, you would have no problems having all the way to infinity appearing in focus.

There are however some requirements for this. With you setup, at you aperture, if you focused at 20 feet from the camera, you total depth would be from 14 feet in front of where you focused, all the way to infinity; if you used f/16, minor difference in that the depth is from 16 feet in front of where you focused (towards the camera) to infinity. Its the to infinity part you have an issue with.

So, technically, assuming your point of focus was 10 - 20 feet away (let us know if you know) you did everything right. So why doesnt it look like you wanted?

Because you shot directly at the Sun, and have significant lens flare, and light directly entering the lens from the Sun, - this will soften and cause a sort of haze. You can easily see the lens flare in the mod on the side of the bale - those coloured blobs. So, try it again, without shooting into the open, uncovered Sun.

I attach THIS LINK HERE so you can look up hyper-focal distances and depth of field; this online tool is also available in a free App for a smartphone, - very handy to have.



Hope you find this helpful,


Regards


Willie
paulbroad 12 131 1288 United Kingdom
12 Aug 2018 2:41PM
Entirely with willie. plus a polarising filter will have no effect directly into the sun other than as a weak ND filter. if polarised light is present, then the maximum effect with the filter will be at right angles to the sun.

paul
Bp122 3 13 United Kingdom
14 Aug 2018 10:18AM
Thank you all, again, for the comments and feedback.



Quote:First may I say I really like the shot.

One of the main things to remember is when using a tripod is to turn the image stabilization off on your camera. Also the only way to get more of your image in focus in one shot is a high F stop. Focus stacking in PS works really well but require those extra shots. The other way is just take two shots and open both images as layers, then use layers masks to blend.

Good luck and look forward to seeing lots more in the future. This is only your first step - enjoy....



Thank you, Robert. I did use a tripod, and my 24-70 isn't stabilized. So that was covered. Perhaps I should have gone for smaller aperture. Regarding the blending and masking, I am still trying to learn this technique through youtube tutorials. Luckily, I do have some of the bracketed shots, so I might just try it sometime.


Quote:The software I used is Photomatix, and I don't know if PS is now as good (banehawi may have a clearer view of that).

Personally, I find Lightroom utterly confusing - it's a matter of familiarity, of course.

The difficult part is choosing the options for combining images - a lot of people end up overprocessing, and getting a really unnatural look, rather than enhancing the image to look the way they saw it in reality.

For what it's worth, I shoot most things with an 85mm lens: if you go wider than you have already, you will need to go even closer to the main subject, and it will reduce the relative size of the background even further - which may lose the point of it all... The perspective changes, as well as how much of the horizon you can get in, and (for my money) you need to be really good to fill a wide frame.



It is the same issue for me too, Dudler. There are tons of ways of doing it, and I don't yet know any of them properly. Just a matter of putting some time in to understand different approaches and effects they result in.


Quote:There's an interesting conversation here, that rumbles on through photography... I am not a landscaper, I view this as an outsider to the genre, but I have watched people obsessively measuring out hyperfocal distances, pacing the land. Is it necessary I wonder?

You focused on the edge of the bale, which is a natural point for the viewer's eye to fix on. Would we then see the rest of the landscape in focus? No. (Our eyes have approximately 32mm full-frame equivalent, so close to what you used.) The distance naturally softens. When it appears sharper we actually lose some of that sense of depth, distance.

For me this is a natural, unforced approach. Focus where the 'in the flesh' viewer's eyes would naturally look.
Moira



That was my consolation in the end, Moira, that this is more natural and something I can relate to and experience it. I'll try not to obsess too much over the limitations I myself put on! Smile


Quote:I have uploaded a mod; its a lot brighter, as including the Sun in the shot will drive down exposure significantly.

At 28mm on a full frame sensor, you would have no problems having all the way to infinity appearing in focus.

There are however some requirements for this. With you setup, at you aperture, if you focused at 20 feet from the camera, you total depth would be from 14 feet in front of where you focused, all the way to infinity; if you used f/16, minor difference in that the depth is from 16 feet in front of where you focused (towards the camera) to infinity. Its the to infinity part you have an issue with.

So, technically, assuming your point of focus was 10 - 20 feet away (let us know if you know) you did everything right. So why doesnt it look like you wanted?

Because you shot directly at the Sun, and have significant lens flare, and light directly entering the lens from the Sun, - this will soften and cause a sort of haze. You can easily see the lens flare in the mod on the side of the bale - those coloured blobs. So, try it again, without shooting into the open, uncovered Sun.

I attach THIS LINK HERE so you can look up hyper-focal distances and depth of field; this online tool is also available in a free App for a smartphone, - very handy to have.



Hope you find this helpful,


Regards


Willie



Now this is very interesting what you said here, banehawi. You assumed all the distances almost spot on. The bale was indeed somewhere between 15-20 feet away from me. The lens flare and the haze effect, do you reckon this would have been minimized if there were a graduated filter? Or this is something best avoided in situations like this?

By the way, I loved your mod among all others. That, in fact, was the look I was originally after. Somehow my processing fell short of my expectations!

And thank you for the link Smile


Quote:Entirely with willie. plus a polarising filter will have no effect directly into the sun other than as a weak ND filter. if polarised light is present, then the maximum effect with the filter will be at right angles to the sun.

paul


Thanks, Paul. You're right, it made next to no difference putting polariser on!
dudler Plus
16 1.0k 1576 England
14 Aug 2018 1:48PM
Thank you for all the detailed feedback - it makes it worthwhile to have commented, for all of us.

I'll pick up on a further question in your response to Willie. A graduated filter would have darkened the sky - but would, unavoidably, have either left a light band along the horizon, or darkened the top of the roll. It wouldn't reduce the flare, which is the result of internal reflections in the lens - and adding another two glass surfaces would tend to make that worse. The star effect will probably lessen with a wider aperture, increase if you stop down further.

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