Getting the Shot - Days End l

Waterscape photography is something that I always find interesting and enjoyable. To be able to watch and witness the myriad of different reflections and aspects of the water is truly breathtaking. Add in a beautiful landscape and sunset or sunrise and you are truly in heaven on earth.

 

Location

The location where this photograph was taken is Kuhmoinen, Central Finland. Finland truly is a country with thousands of lakes and Central Finland is where most of them are also concentrated. Most of the Finnish lakes are quite small in size, which often means they are rather quiet and waveless. 

 

Gear Used

For this capture I used a Canon EOS 6D full frame body with a Canon EF 24-105mm F4L lens handheld.

 

Condition

The weather at this late summer evening was electrifying. The lake was almost completely still, in an anticipation of a coming storm. The clouds were forming in a rapid succession while the last of the sunset glow was quickly fading away in the horizon.

 

Technique

Most of the time when taking waterscape photographs I use long exposures, to get smooth, misty and silky water effects. But sometimes, the setting of the scene requires something else. For example in this frame, I wanted to freeze the reflection on the near still lake and stop the motion in the clouds.

This shot was taken at 24mm focal length to get a wide view, but also to get the framing I wanted. ISO was set at 100 to get the cleanest image possible. Aperture value was F16 to get both the foreground reflections and the focus point as sharp as possible. The exposure time was 1/60 seconds to get the correct exposure in the highlights.

 

Tips & Tricks

When taking waterscape images, some of the most important aspects to remember are: composition, light and movement. The composition should preferably have either 2/3 sky and 1/3 water or the opposite. This should be decided on whether the sky or the water is more interesting. This is more of a general rule in all things considered landscape photography, not only waterscapes. While I always try to follow this rule, it’s not always possible or even necessary. In the end its your image and while normally this rule gives pleasing results, the final choice is always with the person behind the camera.

The light in landscape and waterscape photography is nearly always the best at sunset or sunrise. Some like to add the sun with the beautiful star effect and some just want the smooth and spectacular colors of the sky when the sun is still behind the horizon. I always try to get to the location when the sun is still shining, around 30 - 45 minutes before sunsetor sunrise. This gives me the chance to witness both events, the breathtaking colors before the sunrise and the beautiful sun stars and vice versa for the sunset.

The movements of the water can sometimes be tricky. Its quite a bit of trial and error with a couple of general rules or guidelines. If the lake or sea is completely or nearly completely still, then the better choice probably is to use faster shutter speeds. This gives sharp and crisp water reflections when the movements are completely stopped. On the other hand, the water might be completely motionless, but the clouds might still be moving rapidly across the sky. In this case, I suggest both exposures, short and long. When the sea or lake has strong waves and lots of movement, then I always prefer long exposures. This is not a general rule, its just my personal opinion and preference. The long exposure combined with big waves creates stunning misty and smooth water effects. Combine this with an amazing view and light and you have a great image.

Days End l - RAW image - 24mm, ISO 100, F16, 1/60 sec

Days End l - RAW image - 24mm, ISO 100, F16, 1/60 sec

Post Processing

As much as I love to travel to amazing and beautiful places with my camera, for me, the real magic begins when I get back home and see the photographs on my monitor.

The journey of post processing is individual to all, some like it light and colourful, some dark and gloomy. To me, it’s about showcasing the true raw beauty of nature from my own perspective, from my own view and place within it. Anyone can take a similar image in the same place, but only I can make it in my own vision, the way I saw the scene.

For post processing I use Adobe Lightroom CC. I won’t speak in length about any particular exact details about the post processing, only highlighting the major steps and measures. Post processing is very much trial and error and you should make the image the way you saw the scene, not duplicate or follow any set guide. This particular frame was quite heavily processed due to the relatively bright sky and dark foreground. Before starting with the actual processing of the frame, I always check the lens corrections, removing Chromatic Aberrations and enabling the profile corrections. I also level the frame if needed. 

The exposure, contrast, shadows and saturation was increased.

The highlights, whites and blacks were decreased.

The temperature was also very slightly increased to make the frame more warm.

Days End l - Final image

Days End l - Final image

Afterthoughts

While this image doesn't have aspects of majestic wilderness and breathtaking views that please the majority of people, it boasts something completely different. Simplicity. It’s a simple image that doesn't try to do anything else. It’s a frame of a traditional Finnish landscape in the setting evening sun, that can be witnessed all over Finland. And because of that, I love the image. Simple.