Traveling across the canal, I noticed the magnificent symmetrical reflections of the poplars on both sides of the water and the gorgeous vanishing point. The view was so irresistible I had to stop my car! I grabbed my photo bag, but much to my dismay I noticed that had forgotten to bring my tripod.
Canon 30D . Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 . f/7, 10 and 14
I'm blessed to live in the beautiful Polderland of Flanders, Belgium. It's a favorite shooting location for photo workshops organized in Belgium and the Netherlands. Personally, I like to go there both for long exposures and for more conventional images.
I grew up on the Belgian coast and I have known the most scenic locations along the canals since I was a child. Over the past 20 years that I have been doing photography, this location has become one of my favorites. When photo friends from abroad come to visit me, I'm always proud to show them this place.
I live in Bruges and when I drive the 12.5 miles (20 km) to the coast, I always take the less traveled road along that beautiful canal. Depending on the season, the weather conditions and the time of the day, this place has many different characteristics and moods.
"As I was crossing the bridge over the canal, I was overwhelmed by the graphic composition of the trees reflected in the water."
One quiet winter’s day in January, I was driving to the coast around noon. As I was crossing the bridge over the canal, I was overwhelmed by the graphic composition of the trees reflected in the water. I decided that I had to photograph this gorgeous view, so I stopped the car. I had brought along my photo bag, but much to my dismay I noticed that I had forgotten my tripod!
I walked to the bridge and stood there for 15 minutes, soaking up the mood and looking for the right place to shoot. I was facing north and a pale winter sun was shining from the south behind me. The middle of the bridge seemed to be the best place to capture the beautiful vanishing point in the center of my image. I deliberately ignored the 2/3 rule and decided to do it my own way.
"To manage without my tripod, I decided to shoot 3 different exposures of the exact same composition and then later create an HDR image. I knew this would improve the definition of the details, sharpness and depth."
To manage without my tripod, I decided to shoot 3 different exposures and then later create an HDR image. I knew this would improve the definition of the details, sharpness and depth. I set the bracketing to –2, 0, +2 stops. The ISO was 400, the focus was set to infinity and the exposure time was set on automatic. The settings for the first exposure were 1/250 second (0 bracketing), f/10, ISO 400; the second exposure 1/500 second (–2 bracketing), f/14, ISO 400; and the settings for the third exposure were 1/125 second (+2 bracketing), f/7, ISO 400.
Trying to move as little as possible and keeping a steady hand, I started to shoot, hoping for the best. Later, when I saw the picture on my computer for the first time, I felt pure delight.
I used Photoshop to merge the three exposures. I used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin to convert the images to black and white, and also used Nik Color Efex Pro plugin to add further adjustments.
1) I merged the three exposures in Photoshop and soon realized that the result was pretty exciting and satisfying.
2) Then I converted the image to black and white with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin, and also increased the contrast slightly.
3) The final touch was to add a tiny bit of Glamor Glow with Nik Color Efex Pro plugin.
Looking at the final result, I had the feeling that it fully illustrated my state of mind when I took the picture. I always process my images in a way that expresses my emotions from the moment I took the photo so that I can share those feelings with the viewer.
1) Never let unexpected opportunities slip away. When you see an excellent view, get out of the car and capture it on camera!
2) Always bring your gear, and don't forget your tripod.
3) Exercise your photographic eye to find scenes that will make great photographic compositions.
When it comes to photography, I'm a late bloomer. It always fascinated me, but I didn't really start to study it until the age of 48 when I attended evening courses at a photo academy. I started producing negatives and prints, first in my bathroom and later in my own proper darkroom. I eventually switched from analog to digital. The skills that I learned in the analog world were of great value to me in the digital world.
My photography is purely emotional; I want every image I take to have a soul.
My goal is that the image captures what I felt at that moment, whatever the subject is.