10161. Teal Pond, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas

10161. Teal Pond, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas

Teal Pond is a small pond in the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area. I stumbled upon this pond as I was leaving Dagmar yesterday. As I was following the road out, I came to an intersection. If I turned right, I would continue on and come to the main highway to go home. Turning left would take me…well, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. I turned left.

As my adventures of Friday were still vivid in my memories, I drove very slowly down the gravel road. I’m pretty sure I could have walked faster than I was driving, but I didn’t want to have to change another flat tire.

When I arrived at Teal Pond, the sky had gotten a little brighter, but the pond and surrounding area were significantly darker. I knew this much contrast between the bright sky and dark pond would present a problem for the camera. I had a choice to make. Do I expose for the sky and clouds and let the pond go almost black, or do I expose for the pond and let the sky become overexposed

I really liked the color and texture of the clouds, so I knew I wanted to capture that. In order to do that would mean I would have to underexpose the pond. But, I also liked the feeling of calmness and serenity the pond provided, and I also liked that the wind wasn’t blowing which left the surface of the water so still that it looked like a mirror. However, if I captured any of those qualities of the pond area, the sky would be overexposed, and I wouldn’t capture the qualities in the sky that I liked. I faced a tough decision in choosing which part of the scene, the pond or the sky, was more important to me.

Until, that is, I thought about using the HDR technique. As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of HDR mainly because of the way I have seen it used by others. It often looks very overdone. When I use HDR, replace a sky or reflection, or use any other photographic or post-processing technique, I try to make it look as seamless and unobtrusive as possible. I want the viewer to see the photograph, not the technique.

For this image, I shot a series of six images going from two stops underexposed to two stops overexposed in 2/3 stop increments. Each image was shot at the smallest aperture on the lens, f/22, because I wanted complete depth of field. In order to change the exposure, then, I adjusted the shutter speed. Some of the shutter speeds were quite low, but that was fine in this case because there was absolutely no wind blowing the leaves, water, or anything else. When I got home, I used Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2 to put the images together. I then tweaked the exposure, contrast, and saturation slightly to get this final image.

Settings:  Canon 5D Mk II, 14mm, f/22