It was only a month ago when I made the trip out to Wedge Pond in Kananaskis to catch the sunrise. On that trip the smoke from forest fires resulted in a deep red light. After sharing the images I was quickly under pressure to make arrangements for another trip, and after some false starts, conditions this morning looked perfect.
It can be a little daunting for people taking a filter system out into the field for the first time and that was the case for my client this morning. We arrived at the lake at 07:15 with sunrise at 08:09 giving us plenty of time to deal with the new filter system. As it transpires we were ready to shoot in minutes as the Lee filter system really is very simple to use and it is the one I use, so what little instruction was needed came easily.
If ever there was a time and location that was made for an ND graduated filter, sunrise at the wedge pond is it. Very dark water sunk into the shadow of the mountains and surrounded by forest is contrasted against bright sunlit skies and mountain peaks.
I know a lot of people will say 'oh you can balance that in photoshop now' and you can, but why replicate something when a filter will give you the shot in the field and leave you with less office time, no contest for me. The image below was shot just 8 minutes after sunrise and really demonstrates the value of a graduated filter as it balances the light across the image.
I still haven't hit the image I've envisaged for this location but I have made numerous shots that I'm very happy with in the pursuit of that one. Every time I rise at 4am and load up my gear I am as excited at the prospect of my next trip to Wedge Pond as if it were my first.
A good location will almost always deliver an image, so it's worth returning again and again until you understand it fully and have seen it in various conditions. When you spend a lot of time with a location you will know what the best conditions are in which to make the very best shot you can at that location, the only real issue you have then is actually making it.
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