As my photography and editing skills have developed over the years, I have found myself thinking more about the final composition after editing, when taking the image. Take the above image, there are 3 separate elements to it. The heather in the foreground, the mid ground and then the mist and sky. The tripod, focal length and aperture are the only elements of the image that are constant.
Having worked hard on my post processing skills, I am now in a position where I understand what different elements of the image I will need to create in order to achieve the final result, This is a massive step forward for me and whilst I still have a huge amount to learn within the editing side, it has taken things to a different dimension.
Let me explain that in more detail. Firstly the heather. There was a light breeze which was causing it to move. I knew that I needed a shutter speed high enough to freeze the image so I had to use ISO 400 as opposed to 100. Coupled that I waited to the light to catch the heather and bracket 3 images of which I then used the best 2 and blended them to get the colours that I wanted and a sharp foreground.. The mid ground was taken 15 minutes after I took the foreground and I was waitied for the light to be just right. Again a bracketed image that was blended in photoshop using Raya Pro. The final aspect is the sky which was unexpected. I had captured it about 15 minutes after the mid ground shot, however the unexpected bonus was that the mist started to roll in which I think adds more atmosphere to the final image. This was taken approximately 30 minutes later.
I knew that when I left the location, that I had gathered all of the information that I would need to create the image, although if you look at the images on my camera you would have seen a random series of images. And that is the point, I was not after the perfect in camera image, I knew that this would not be possible but by putting the different aspects together the image would work.
Back at home it was a fairly simple exercise to pick out the best images from each part of the photo and then because I had not adjusted the tripod, focal length during the 2 hours that I was on location, I could then focus stack the images and do the blending that was needed with final adjustments.
It takes a bit of getting used to but I have found that the end results are so much better. It has also had the added bonus that it has forced me to learn new editing skills, in that I know what I want to achieve but didn't have the technical skills to achieve the end result. We all know that photography is about learning new things to ultimately become better at the passion that we love.