Landscape Photography Preparation:  Why and how?

This is the Historic site of “Île des Moulins” located in Terrebonne, Quebec. This site was preferred for watermills back in the days. Watermills were commonly used for crushing wheat, cutting wood etc… Five stone buildings have been restored to be a witness of the initial vocation of this site.

In order to be true to the historic nature of the site, I made some decisions in preparation for taking this picture.  Preparation really help make a picture sing!

Role of Landscape Photography Prepraration

I wanted the sun very low on the horizon and illuminating the waterfall and the front of the building.  The photographer ephemeris guided to the best position on shore and best time of the day.  I also wanted the water and the sky to be silky smooth, just like if the time was moving really fast, again to be true to the historic nature of this scene.  I brought a neutral density filter to slow down the shutter speed.

I was also looking for a nice contrast showing the three dimensions of the stone building.  I knew that as the sun rises, the eastern face of the stone watermill would be brighter than the southern face.  This in turn would help create a nice perspective.

The clear area in the sky over the building is coincidental.  However it helps the scene in my opinion.  Luck often come to meet preparation!

Technique

I chose to put the Watermill in the bottom right third of the frame with the white water stream leading to the Watermill in terms of composition, mainly because the sky was more interesting than the water at the bottom of the frame.

I wanted 7 shots 2/3 of a stop apart from each other.  This meant shooting from 2 to 30 seconds.  Since I also decided to use my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at f/7,1, it sharpest aperture, the last parameter, ISO speed, needed to be set to 800 based on the ambient light.  I did set these value on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and started the series of pictures.

Post-Processing

I used Photoshop CC Merge to HDR on the seven resulting frames.  This helped smooth the sky and the water further.  I then used Nik Silver eFex Pro to convert this image in Black and White. Using an Orange filter, I darken the sky and the water that was blue on the color picture. A light negative vignette was added to direct the viewer to the subject: The watermill.

Photography preparation

Before converting to Black and White

Back in Lightroom, I reduced clarity and sharpness on the sky and water and increased it on the Stone Building.

I really like this picture.  When I take the time to prepare, I am far happier with the end-result.  As far as technique goes, after doing it again and again it becomes an integral part of me.  In term of post-processing, when I have a good picture, I can process the same picture again and again to get the most out of it.  However a bad shot will remain bad whatever I do in term of post-processing.

So when you master the technique, preparation is the next most important step to take great pictures.  Now it’s your turn, Prepare for a shot of a single picture and tells us what the result was afterward.  I can’t wait to know!  Do you believe that my Landscape Photography Preparation helped me create that picture?  Do you intend to prepare for a picture in the future.  Show me the end result and give me your opinion on the value of preparing for Landscape Photography.