new year on the beach

hapunaenfusedWell, we’ve heard a lot about the rain in this and other blogs this holiday season, and so when the opportunity came for us to feel some Sun on our backs we took it. On New Year’s Day, we got together with some good friends, got some good food together and took off to Kona-side for the beach. We all had great fun and the kids (young and old) really enjoyed playing with the waves. And there were some big waves that day – as we arrived, somebody was being fitted to a neck brace and a spine board!

All afternoon, the waves were crashing against the rocks at the southern end of the beach, and I wanted to get some photos. I wanted to get some dramatic shots of the waves breaking and crashing against the rocks but by the end of the afternoon the sky had become overcast.

So I adapted my approach. I was going to get some long exposure images and try to catch the flow of the water. Problem. No tripod. So I pushed the exposure as long as I could. Leaning against rocks and image stabilisation certainly helps, but I find that the best tip to a steady shot is with your breathing. Get your composition and focus ready, take a breath, then gently exhale and press the shutter as you do. Try it out!

Nevertheless, I knew from what I was seeing on the LCD on the back of the camera that I would struggle to get a good exposure (again!). I knew I would be trying to Enfuse the images. Following my last post on Enfuse with Lightroom, and Steve Paxton’s blog post at Inside Lightroom, I had an email exchange with Steve on the best approaches to using Enfuse and HDR. My question being whether, if you shoot RAW, there is a real difference processing an image twice to +/- 2EV or whether it’s best to shoot 3 bracketed images with the camera. I think I’d agree that its best to do it with the camera, and this is a test and comparison that I want to make and will blog about soon.

However, with the image above and the one before, where the subject is flowing water, it’s not really feasible to take three bracketed images. So you have to process the same image three times. And that is what I have done to get the image above. If you’d like a before-and-after comparison of the shot out of the camera and the final result, here it is (before on the left here!):


I was quite surprised by how much detail I managed to pull out of the shadow areas in the rocks.

3 thoughts on “new year on the beach”

  1. >>> However, with the image above and the one before, where the subject is flowing water, it’s not really feasible to take three bracketed images. <<<

    Sure it’s feasible, and as you indicated bracketing is preferable, regardless of the moving water. Consider that in your image(s) the only thing moving is the water. The rocks are stationary. The bracketed images will have the water in different stages. Assuming you’re using Photomatix or some other third party HDR engine, when you insert the RAW 3 images into Photomatix, choose “Attempt to reduce ghosting artifacts” and after processing see what you get. If you like it, start Tone Mapping, if you don’t, redo the processing and leave “Attempt to reducing ghosting artifacts” unchecked, and process. Either way, once you’re done Tone Mapping you can then bring your favorite RAW image[converted to a JPEG in Camera Raw] into the TIFF/PSD HDR file, place that JPEG underneath your HDR layer [make sure you rename the Background layer in that HDR file], place a mask on the HDR layer and paint through your favorite waves from the JPEG below.
    This tchnique also works well with people who are moving within a bracketed sequence. Ultimately, you take the RAW/JPEG with the best capture of those moving people and paint them into the HDR layer.
    Hope that helps.
    Best regards,


  2. Hi Louis,

    Thanks for the advice. I’ll give it a go. You really need photoshop for what you describe and I only have Elements, but I think I should be able to do what you describe.

    Thanks again


  3. not only was there good food….there was PLENTY of good food!!! not to mention the company of the legendary CowMan!

    Good fun, let’s do it again!


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