Behind the image: how pro photographer David Clapp fought the fog… and won

Behind the image: how pro photographer David Clapp fought the fog, and the fog won

In a new series of weekend guest blogs on Digital Camera World, professional travel and landscape photographer David Clapp will be sharing the stories behind how he made some of his favourite images. Sometimes it will be how he processed a photo; other times it will be how he simply got to his location in one piece! In his first post, the Getty contributor tells us how a challenging sunny, yet foggy, morning in Devon made getting a good exposure a real challenge.

You can follow David on Facebook or Twitter, or keep up with his work on his wonderful photo blog.

Behind the image: how pro photographer David Clapp fought the fog, and the fog won

The first week of September has been a rather misty one to say the least. After a moonlight photography session on Dartmoor became a raging success, I was out for another round the following morning.

Still rather sleep deprived I headed to Haldon Forest near Exeter to make the most of yet another foggy start.

This is a favourite Devon view point of mine, looking down over the gentle countryside over Mamhead towards the Exe Estuary.

It’s problematic to say the least – too much fog and its a write-off, too little and it can be a rather unrewarding. On that morning, the fog enveloped the countryside beneath, but as the sun rose, the golden light lit the incredible mist and trees in front.

Camera Setup
I used my trusty 1Ds3 for this image matched with a Contax 35-70 f3.4 lens, mounted on a Gitzo 5540 6x tripod. There was literally no wind whatsoever, which made life a lot easier.

I knew the image would become a digital blend of multiple exposures so there would be no ghosting between exposures, a common problem when shooting high contrast scenes from multiple images.

Processing – and it’s an HDR
Would you be surprised to tell you that this is an HDR? It’s made of nine images, an Auto Exposure Bracket, +2 0 -2. There are three landscape format compositions stitched together.

Although my original idea was to process the entire batch in PTGui, (which can fuse images and stitch together as well) the initial results were rather unappealing and lacked warmth and colour.

I processed each part identically using Photomatix (Details Enhancer), making sure the image parameters were identical, as finally stitched the three blended parts together using PTGui.

Final Touches
Additional masking was done to subtly enhance light and colour, as well as slight soft focus effects to the trees. I also had my work cut out removing a rather large airplane contrail, which was removed using the patch tool and then subtly blurred to cover my tracks.

Although a complicated shot to assemble, it all looks very natural, but I have to say, it think this was mostly down to the great September weather. Long may it last.

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