How I Made That – Sunday Serenity

Here’s another in a very occasional series describing the process I used to create a photograph. Today, we’ll look at the first shot in yesterday’s Sunday Serenity post.

The photo was taken at around 5:00pm, about 15 minutes before the sun set behind my left shoulder. It was a 17sec exposure, using a Lee Big Stopper neutral density filter, with my lens at 18mm, an aperture of f/11 and camera on ISO320. The camera was on a tripod with legs unextended and standing in ankle-deep water. Straight out of the camera, the image looked like this.

Straight out of the camera Straight out of the camera

For mine, the scene was a little too dark overall, so I increased the exposure by about two-thirds of a stop.

Increased exposure Increased exposure

Since my trip to Hokkaido in January, I’ve been enjoying photos with a wider aspect ratio than the standard. So, I opened up the crop tool and selected the 16 x 9 ratio, to give the more panoramic crop of the final image.

Using the 16x9 crop tool Using the 16×9 crop tool

Next, to give the image a little more ‘punch’, I increased the saturation. The smoky horizon was producing a nice pink-orange glow, which the saturation adjustment brought out a little further, and then I darkened the blacks and shadows to add a bit more contrast.

Adjusted blacks and shadows Adjusted blacks and shadows

As you can see from the original histogram, below left, there was a whole heap of unused tonal range in the image, particularly in the dark areas at the left of the histogram. So, in order to increase the tonal range, I adjusted the black and white anchor points in Lightroom’s curves tool. This effectively ‘stretches out’ the histogram, bringing the dark mid-tones of the original into the shadow areas, and to a lesser extent, the lighter mid-tones are brought up into the highlight area. You can see the impact this change has on the image below the Lightroom screenshots, which is now really starting to look closer to the final version.

Original histogram (left) and the curve tool (right) with adjusted black and white anchor points Original histogram (left) and the curve tool (right) with adjusted black and white anchor points

See that rock in the foreground? It was still a bit wet from the receding tide, and had some nice blue reflection on it, which the adjustments so far had removed. So, I added an adjustment brush stroke, and increased the exposure on that rock to bring back those details.

Red shading indicates where I applied the brush tool to adjust the exposure on the rock Red shading indicates where I applied the brush tool to adjust the exposure on the rock

And then finally, I wanted to get rid of the dark vignette that had been created by a combination of a the processing done so far, and the fact that I had a filter holder and filter over the wide-angle lens. To do this, I opened up the Effects panel in Lightroom and dragged the Post Crop Vignette slider across to the right to lighten up the corners a little and bring us to the final image.

Post-Crop Vignette tool to lighten the corners of the image Post-Crop Vignette tool to lighten the corners of the image The final result The final result

Sunday Serenity

I took a trip out to Wellington Point this afternoon, with a plan to shoot a particular tree. A single mangrove, which was once so popular among the Brisbane photography community that it had its own group on flickr.

Of course it wasn’t until I got there, at the end of a 45 minute drive, that I found out that the tree was recently cut down. A shame, but not necessarily a bad thing as it forced me to look for other scenes.

May Desktop Wallpaper

Click on the preview image below to download a hi-res version of this month’s desktop image.

This month’s desktop photo was taken with my new Fuji X-T1, which I’ve been really enjoying using these last few weeks. I promise not to become one of those fanboys who go on an on about their switch to mirrorless.

Unless Fuji wants to pay me.

The Fisherman

Fisherman at dawn at Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast Fisherman at dawn at Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast

Hokkaido Day 7

More exploring along the coast south of Wakkanai today.

The coastal roads here remind me of any other, except where they would usually be surrounded by yellow sand, the dunes here are a crisp white, with at times deceptively deep snow. The following photograph was taken on a beach, which was accessed by crossing dunes covered in snow ranging from ankle to waist deep. And you don’t know until you step. My thighs and calves are getting quite the workout.

The snow extends right out to the beach, with just a strip of dark, coffee coloured sand between the snow of the dunes and the whitewater of the breaking waves.

Tomorrow we head off again, around the northern tip of Hokkaido before we hit the east coast bound for the town of Ohmu. I’ve been told the east coast should be ‘much more bleak’ than the west. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that.

Hokkaido Day 4 and 5

We’ve made it to the coast, where we will spend much of the rest of the trip.

Man, I love the coast.

Newcastle Dawn

I couldn’t spend a few days in Newcastle without an early morning trip to the beach. Once upon a time, that would be to go surfing. Not now.

Cowrie Hole Pump House Cowrie Hole Pump House Canoe Pool Chains Canoe Pool Chains


I’m in Kingscliff in Northern NSW for the weekend. Time for some fun with the camera.

Fun with flora
Fun with flora
Fun with fauna
Fun with fauna
Fun with clouds and rainbows
Fun with clouds and rainbows
Fun with the Lee Big Stopper
Fun with the Lee Big Stopper
Fun with camera movement
Fun with camera movement

Alyangula Dawn

When I travel to Groote Eylandt, luggage restrictions mean I’m usually only armed with my iPhone. For the latest trip, I had the opportunity to take my camera with me, and spent a couple of mornings down on the beach as the sun rose behind me.

One eye on the exposure, one on the water. No crocodiles this time, but I did see one black-tipped reef shark swimming around in the shallows.