#3 From the Best of 2010 Series

Here’s another one of my favourite images from 2010. A prime example of being in the right place at the right time. Everything set up right and just waiting for the right moment to squeeze the trigger and another one in the bag. Right? Nope, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Further down you’ll see the original unedited version of this image along side the final version you see here.This is more a prime example of what could go wrong does go wrong.

The car wreck in the image I had spotted months before and noted where it was. I was trying out a lens that had been loaned to me to test and write a mini review on (link). I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to test the lens and try some HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography at the same time.My eldest daughter Melissa came along to take some images as well.

With the images for the test out of the way and some other images completed, I set the camera up to do the HDR. The set up is pretty simple, I set the camera to Av mode (Aperture Priority) set the aperture to f8 and turned on the Auto Exposure Bracketing mode on the camera. This sets the camera up to take 3 exposures, all different, one under exposed, a normal exposure and an over exposed image. With the continuous shooting mode on as well, the shots happen in under a second. Add to this a tripod, plus remote and the camera can’t move between frames. This allows the software, that blends the images together, an easy blending and doesn’t create a “ghosting” problem.  I dialed in the exposure gap of 1&1/3 stops between exposures and deliberatly set the middle exposure to be slightly under exposed. I set up the exposure for the “normal” shot to be under exposed as it was an overcast day and I wanted some detail in the clouds. I had taken around 4 different angles all using the above method. I had remembered to turn off the AEB Auto Cancellation mode, so I wasn’t resetting everything all the time.

I was about to move on to another angle when I spotted the train coming. My brain went into overdrive, I worked out I had about 20 seconds to frame the shot. I wanted the train and car in the same shot. I needed mobility, camera came off the tripod, remote unplugged, 15 seconds. Tripod moved out of the way, 10 seconds. Step back, a little further, 5 seconds. I remembered my camera was in High speed continuous shooting  mode, 8 frames a second. YES!! 2 seconds. Set the focus, frame the shot and push the shutter button down. CLICK, CLICK, CLICK then nothing. WHAT!! Train goes by and I’m standing there remembering that the AEB mode was still on because the Auto Cancelling mode was disabled. All I had was 3 shots. Yep, one underexposed, one normal, and an over exposed one. To make matters worse the train in the last image was too far away! Oh well chalk that one up to bad luck. No point in worrying about a missed opportunity. Melissa & I finished the shoot, packed up the gear and headed home. Like a good little photographer, I downloaded the images and did the normal back ups or 3 and called it a day.

Later that night I put the photos from the Sigma 8-16mm and mini review up on the net and started looking at the other images. I came across the images with the train. My mind started to formulate a plan. Normally I don’t fake anything in photoshop. I might remove distracting objects, brighten up an area and darken another one, but I don’t fake an image……that is until this one. We all know the train was travelling along the tracks in my direction. It passed the point where I would have taken a series of images had I not been thwarted by my own cleverness. Where’s the harm? So I faked it. I used the slightly over exposed image and used Photoshop to manipulate the image. I brought the train closer. A few bits of burning and dodging later. The image I had my heart set on. But…….I faked it.

I still like the image, but to me, it was tainted. I hadn’t captured it in camera. To this day I cant help but think how I had missed the shot. I still like the image and I included it in the Facebook album along with the other images. The best part about it. It was a great lesson to have learnt and 7 months later a great story to share.

Now as promised the untouched original and THE FAKE. Can you spot the manipulation? Feel free to comment or pass judgement.

Happy Shooting

Car & Train

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