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Moss on red

Taken on February 4, 2012 at Lake Kleifarvatn in South West Iceland. This is a strange volcanic lake. It goes very deep in places and used to be the deepest lake in Iceland. There are no rivers leading in or leading out and yet the water level rises and falls. The lake is fed by underground lava tubes.

 

  • ƒ/13
  • 24 mm
  • 30 sec
  • 100

 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM

Medium weight Gitzo
6 stop B&W ND filter
Magic Cloth = Black Mitten.

Background

This was a location that was tagged to the end of a Winter tour because it was conveniently on the way out to the airport at Keflavik. I rarely expect too much from this place. The frequent cloud cover over the grotesque lava rock is a challenge. Winter brings extra dimensions with the ice and snow and this week was a strange warm spell that melted 90% of the ground snow. This gave the Moss a surprising airing and in a way revealed some of it’s hibernation secrets.

Composition

As usual, there was no light at Kleifarvatn, so I wanted to shoot for the details. I liked the blacks and whites of the lake and mountains in the background, but the sky was featureless. I wanted a strong foreground to dominate the bottom of the frame. One of the things I look for is the basic outline of the foreground. Is there anything that can frame the background? Can I be creative with overlap? Can I balance shapes? I also look for a variety of textures or colours or both.

Aperture

Unlucky for some, I tend to avoid f/13 for superstitious reasons. Truth is I started at f/14, but my results were a little dark within the 30 sec shutter. I changed to f/13 and brought the focal point a little closer to favour the foreground. The DOF is nice and despite being so close to the foreground, the background doesn’t suffer too badly.

Magic Cloth

This was a nice long exposure at 30 sec. This is a good shutter speed to get a little creative with the Magic Cloth. The whole scene can easily be left for 3 – 6 seconds with such a flat sky. After waiting 3 seconds, I moved the cloth down slowly over the image (now we are up to about 15 sec). In the remaining time I used several angles to bring the cloth up to expose the foreground. I am trying to stop before the edge of lake, but because I have such a long exposure, I can do this carefully. Because of my composition with the rock up the right side balancing the dark beach on the left, I can introduce many angles of extra exposure to the foreground.

Kleifarvatn

The original file is dark.

KleifarLR1

My first move is to crop the sky to make it 16:9. On the histogram we can see clipping shadows.

KleifarLR2
Straightened and shadows lifted ready for photo shop.

VestraBluePool

The grass anchors itself in the black sand forming tussocks from the drifting sand. Small pools form after heavy rain or melting snow.

Kirkjufell Light

We checked out the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall earlier in the day and there were 6 – 10 tourists walking through the scene at any one time.

My Gear on Amazon

Buying through these ads generates a little extra income for me and helps to pay for the website.
Canon 5D - full frame This is a heavy duty camera than I have used in all weathers. It has a very Powerful live-view and great quality images.
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 l This lens was all I needed for many years. Sharp from corner to corner, makes it a champion for landscape details.
Canon 135mm f/1.2L Wonderfully sharp!
Medium weight Tripod My Gitzo has been on the ice beach a thousand times and is still strong.

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