When I was a child, my parents had a painting that hung over our couch. I used to lie on the couch staring at that painting for hours as I imagined myself part of the scene. I no longer remember what the painting was about, but I still remember the peacefulness of becoming lost in that painted canvas and how much I enjoyed looking at it.
I took this image at Two Rivers Park a couple of weeks ago. I had arrived at the park before sunrise to get some pre-dawn shots of the bridge that connects the park to the parking area. After getting some shots of the bridge, I walked across it to the park and observed that the sky was beginning to lighten as sunrise approached. As the sky brightened, I began to note the presence of the clouds that had not been noticeable in the early morning darkness and quickly recognized the photographic possibilities.
I began taking pictures of the clouds with the water in the foreground. However, I kept thinking something was missing, and I began searching for something that would provide some foreground interest. As I walked around the area, I spied this bench and thought it would fit nicely in the photograph. With the light growing brighter with every passing minute, I quickly set up my tripod and camera.
I took a couple of test shots that revealed there was far more contrast between the foreground and background than the camera sensor could capture. To resolve this issue, I took a series of thirteen pictures in which I adjusted the exposure in 1/3-stop increments. Because I needed to maintain complete depth of field, I had to make these exposure adjustments by changing the shutter speed rather than the aperture. I then used the HDR technique to merge these thirteen photos into one image in which the both the foreground and background were properly exposed.
I began to carefully review the final image. After a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t so much reviewing the image as I was imagining myself sitting on that bench watching the changing colors of the breaking dawn with the same sense of peace that I had when I looked at that old painting over my childhood couch.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 14mm, f/22