Looking at Images #3

  By George Barr

Ice in Fish Creek Park


It was early spring and I hadn’t been to Fish Creek Park in a long time. It was mid afternoon, the light fairly harsh, and I didn’t find anything to excite me ’til I made my way upstream and I was literally under McLeod Trail. In the shadows under the bridge and away from the heat of the sun were some ice formations, and one in particular stood out because it was lit from behind by a stray beam of sunlight sneaking under the bridge from the other side.

Close shots like this invariably struggle with lack of depth of field so I elected to do a focus blend, starting with the nearest focus point and gradually adjusting the focus point till the sharp area reached the background of the image.

I used Helicon Focus to blend the sharpest parts of the images, but as expected, it did weird things to the moving water at the bottom of the picture. I selected a single image in which the moving water was both in focus and looked nice and blended that single image into the previous overall blend. I now had natural looking water, while maintaining detail throughout the image.

I could have used Photoshop to do the blending but have had good results with Helicon and my experience with older versions of Photoshop suggests that one needs the most recent version for best possible blending. Helicon is inexpensive and effective.

Ice forms in flat lighting generally look poor but so do sunlit forms, and it is really the glow from behind that makes this image.

Lessons learned:

1. What you think you will be photographing is often simply a path to what is really exciting – be open to changes in direction, to making the best of a situation

2. Never assume that one needs to head for the mountains to get interesting landscape images

3. Ansel Adams’ idea of pre-visualization doesn’t get a lot of respect these days, but it often helps to think about how the image will come across so that appropriate tools and techniques can be used to make the best recording of the subject. It’s too late when you get home and wish you’d focus blended, or been an inch to the left, or used a different shutter speed.