Went back to Inniswood Metro Gardens yesterday morning with no plan other than wander around and photograph whatever grabs my attention. It worked out pretty well. Granted, you can point your camera almost anywhere in Inniswood can have a good photo. The gardens are amazing and the amount of work and dedication they require is humbling.
The garden’s waterfalls are a frequent photo subject and when I arrived I gravitated there first. After trying a couple compositions and long exposures, I setup my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens and got as close to the large waterfall as I could. The sun had just risen above the trees in the background and there was still some early morning ground fog so there were some great crepuscular rays. If I’d waited 5 or 10 minutes then the sun would have lined up perfectly with the waterfall, but the fog would have been gone.
I frequently forget just how wide the vertical field of view is on this lens. Even after de-fishing the image, I had to crop it to get rid of the tripod legs. I ended up liking this composition the best of the four that I tried. Because the shape of the fisheye lens prevents the use of filters, I stopped down to f/22 to get an exposure long enough to blur the water. This is four exposures blended into an HDR.
Update 8-8-2015: This is now the most popular photo I’ve posted to 500px. Woot!
The first one I tried was a closeup wide angle 10mm long exposure. It’s a minute and a half exposure with a 10 stop ND filter so the water is very silky and it fills the frame so there’s no doubt about the subject. It doesn’t show the beautiful setting or the sunrise and fog.
Next I tried a vertical orientation with the 10mm lens and composed the shot to have the water flow diagonally and placed the sun on the upper right thirds intersection. I didn’t bother to take this one with the ND filter. This one shows more of the setting, but it felt unbalanced.
I switched out the 10mm for the 8mm fisheye and tried that in a vertical composition. I ended up cropping this down quite a bit. Because of the back lighting I shot four exposures and blended them into an HDR. It shows more of the setting and the sunrise and there’s a balance of foreground to background with the horizon near the center, but it felt cramped.
I’m learning to trust my eyes. If you’re not wowed by your first composition then try another. If you don’t any that wow you that day then come back later and try again. Try different times of day or different weather. Experiment. One of the best things about digital photography is the ability to practice inexpensively. So what if you take 20,000 photos to get one good one? That just means you’re getting better faster.