Of all the splendid locations I visited on the Breton coast, the Crozon peninsula in Finistere would have to be my favourite. Think majestic cliff top walks, fascinating rock stack formations and beautiful sandy beaches. There are also some really charming seaside villages like Le Fret and Caramet-Sur-Mer in case all that is not yet idyllic enough for you.
The photo I’m featuring today is from one of locations I photographed several times on the Presqu’Ile de Crozon. It looks a bit picture postcard perfect compared to my usual style, but technically it was one of the more difficult photos to pull off. These pink flowers are sea thrift which are actually very small in size. To obtain a perspective whereby I could show them in detail, a very low perspective was used, with my camera only a few inches away from the nearest flowers. Live view mode was used to compose the photo since it was impractical to do so with the camera almost on the ground.
The main problem to consider here was depth of field. It’s basically impossible to get everything in adequate focus when you have a subject within one foot of the lens and another at infinity even with a wide angle lens at f22. I’m not normally a practitioner of multiple exposure blending but it was absolutely necessary on this occasion for focus and depth of field, rather than the usual reason of dynamic range. It’s possible to take numerous frames with different focus points and hand blend them together for the best results. I decided to keep things simple, just using two focus points, the foreground flowers and the cliffs. I kept the aperture of f13 and shutter speed of 1/6 the same in both exposures. A graduated neutral density filter was used in both frames as I find blending two images with similar light levels easier to obtain a seamless result.
The other benefit of being able to use a larger aperture than trying to use f22 for a single exposure was that it allowed me to use a faster shutter speed. Fortunately the wind was not overly troublesome that day, allowing me to catch a few frames at 1/6 without any movement of the flowers.
I’m including a second interpretation of the same scene on a different sunset. On that occasion I had the tripod set up fully upright and capturing the scene was straight forward with all the elements in focus at f11.
A Couple of Novel Approaches
Coming back to the original photo titled “Crozon Dreams”, I thought I would mention two aspects of processing that might be unusual to most people. The first is regarding how I blended the two frames I took at different focus points. The technique is really simple. In the image where the flowers were sharp, I cropped the top half, removing the out-of-focus cliffs. I did the opposite for the image with the cliffs in focus, cropping away the foreground flowers. Since I had used f13 for each exposure, the mid ground was adequately sharp in both photos. Using the photomerge function in photoshop which is normally used to stitch panoramas, I automated the blending process and voila – a seamless result! I’ve attached some crops at 100% to show the cliffs and flowers both nice and sharp.
The second technique I used that’s a little different is the way I took care of chromatic aberration. When you use the lens correction mode in photoshop or other methods to remove CA, they often result in some mild softness and defocused areas which nobody wants. The major problem in this photo was cyan fringing. Fortunately the areas surrounding the CA didn’t contain any cyan which made it the ideal candidate for this alternative technique. I created an adjustment layer where I desaturated the cyan channel and painted over the areas affected. Obviously this won’t work if you have a photo where there are cool tones surrounding the cyan fringing but if you’re sick of having to deal with detail loss and softness after using the lens correction feature, this may come in handy.