See the details on exactly how I shot this photo of a bridge in Hawaii including camera settings, editing techniques and more.
When I was first starting to learn photography, I always loved to see how other photographers shot a photo, and what settings and techniques they used. It both inspired me and helped me try new things with my camera.
Actually, I still like to see how other photographers shoot their photos, but I decided to also start sharing how I shoot my own photos.
So let’s jump right into what I hope will be a new series on this blog.
Capturing the Shot – My Equipment and Camera Settings
To get this photo I had to hike down off the road carrying my gear. What gear was I using? Here you go:
Camera: Sony a6000 (Affiliate Link to Amazon)
Lens: Rokinon (aka Samyang) 12mm f2.0 (Affiliate link to Amazon)
After snapping a handful of photos of various compositions, I settled on the one I liked, and set my camera on bracket mode, shooting three photos, each 2 stops apart ( -2 stops underexposed, normal exposure, +2 stops overexposed). I decided to shoot three photos instead of one because a single photo would not capture the dynamic range of the dark bridge and light sky as well as three photos.
My settings were f5.6 for each photo, with 1/1000, 1/250 and 1/60 shutter speeds. I was at ISO 100 for all three. Since I’m using a 12mm lens, almost everything is in focus even at f5.6, so I was able to shoot the photos handheld and skip the tripod. (If you’re not quite sure what bracketing is, take a look at this helpful explanation)
Processing the Photo
I shoot my photos in RAW format and use Adobe Lightroom to organize and edit.
Lightroom has an awesome feature that lets you combine bracketed photos into a single High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo with just a couple clicks. It even aligns the shots, so if you’re shooting hand held like me, you don’t have to worry about slight movements.
Here’s the stacked image before any edits:
Now it’s time to step into the digital darkroom and have some fun editing this shot.
Anyone who has used Lightroom with RAW photos knows how powerful it is, and also how time consuming.
I start by adjusting the exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black points and finally contrast. I also check that the white balance is what I want it to be. Along with a handful of other steps, I use dodging and burning to bring the attention to the curve of the bridge, and the sky in the background.
There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that offer step by step guides to editing with Lightroom, so I won’t go so in-depth.
And here is the final image:
Hopefully you noticed the rope that disappeared in the final image. I jumped into Photoshop to take that out because I found it distracting and unnatural. I rarely use Photoshop, but it is incredibly useful for certain things, and many photographers use it exclusively for their image processing.
And that’s how I shot this image.
I’m not 100% satisfied with the final version, and may go back to adjust it at some point (perhaps changing the crop to take out some of the foreground) but I like it at this point.
If you liked this post then check out the rest of my blog. It is a bit of a work in progress, but I’ll be sharing more content soon.
And you can follow me on Instagram @petervanosdall for more photos.
Thanks for visiting!