I took this shot on a recent trip to St. Petersburg, Florida. I had found this location the previous evening and thought it would make for a nice sunrise shot. I saw from the weather forecast that some clouds were supposed to move in overnight, and I thought that would add some dramatic effect to the scene. I woke up early the next morning, well before sunrise, to find that it was more overcast that I had anticipated. To pass the time, a colleague and I continued walking for a few more minutes. When the horizon began to brighten, we turned around and hurried back to my original spot.
I set up my tripod without extending the legs. This allowed me to keep the camera close to the foreground while letting me to shoot at a slight upward angle. Tilting the camera upward while using a 14mm lens would exaggerate the lean of the palm trees while emphasizing the sky and the sense of openness I felt.
Because of the significant contrast in the scene, I figured the HDR technique would be the only way I could get detail in both the bright sky and the dark foreground, so I shot a series of images in anticipation of this. However, after combining all of the images into a final photograph, it just didn’t look very realistic. I reviewed the series again with the idea of choosing the one frame that provided some detail in the shadows without overexposing the sky.
To create the final image, I used Lightroom to adjust the contrast, lower the highlights and brighten the shadows, and increase the clarity and vibrance. I then opened the file in Photoshop and applied noise reduction using Nik’s Define 2.0.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 14mm, 30 sec, f/22