Bay of Fires, Tasmania / by Kenneth Kao

Ah, this image. THIS image...

Taken in Tasmania, near the Bay of Fires. This was our second attempt.

See, the first attempt, I was shooting a model on tripod for the first time, during sunset, and I, um...forgot to focus the camera. I walked away from it that thinking I'd gotten the best images of my life--they were so good...but they weren't in focus!

So, on the drive back, I had to break it to Marlo, that she had posed for 4 hours straight, freezing her butt off, for me to screw up big time. I still can't understand how I did that, except that I'd test shot with the background in mind, and forgot to adjust it later.

She said it sucked, but we should go back the next morning and get it right. She didn't give me a hard time at all. Instead, she said we'd spent the time to get there, the money on hotels and flight, after all, so what was another 4 hours of work?

So, we woke up before dawn, about 3 hours later, and drove an hour to get back to the location, set up...

And my ND filter fell off. Into the freezing water. I freedove into the water, maybe 12 feet deep, after making sure my precariously balanced equipment, camera, lights, etc, were all stable (because obviously I was failing at that), and I managed to retrieve it. When I came out, dripping and even more cold than ever before...I went to dry the ND filter.

Except... It's a variable ND, so it has two glass plates. I couldn't get the water out from between the plates. There's no way to take them apart.

I did the best I could. I really wanted the long exposure, and I'd set up to shoot it, so damn it I'd do it anyway. We took some other images though.

Anyway Marlo had to stay perfectly still so that we'd get the water to blur like this and appear smooth as silk. Trust me though, she was as cold as I was, maybe colder, laying on the rock and trying not to shiver.

Afterwards, this became the winning shot. Sure there were water dropplets all over it. Sure, I tried to correct it, the best I could in post production. But I guess what I'm saying is...

Sometimes, things go terribly wrong, but you still only need to walk out with just one great image.

(Ask me, and I might release the out of focus shots, with a disclaimer, so you can see how epic they were...minus the focus issue)

20mm, ISO 31, F/14, 10s

(If I had to do it again, I'd choose a non-variable ND filter and a lower F stop to make the image sharper, and most importantly, I would have raised the tripod so that there would be a greater separation between the model and the background)

Lessons be learned.


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