The Battlefield - Part I

Seeing how I live just minutes from the very nice, picturesque, Manassas National Battlefield Park it only makes sense that at some point in my life-time I should capture its beauty in photographs. Well I guess that time has come.

Over the past month or so I have been visiting the park for day hikes as well as sunrise photo ops, trying to cover the entire park and capture some of the more interesting details. 

Canon at sunrise

This process has allowed me the ability to capture a lot of images and it has been a challenge to decide which ones are worthy enough to post. Since there is a bunch to show, along with details on some of the specific techniques of how they were made, I figured it would probably be best to spread it out over two posts. 

HDR Shots

For the sunrise pictures I decided to utilize high dynamic range techniques and capture multiple exposures at varying shutter speeds in order to capture as much of the dynamic range as possible. This technique can be extremely valuable when you want to really capture the subtle details or the diverse dynamic range that exists in a given scene, and the lighting conditions aren't 100%.

I decided to utilize five exposures utilizing the cameras bracketing capabilities, set to +1 -1 exposure. Back at the computer, I then merged them together and adjusted the tone mapping of the final image using NIK Software's HDR Efex Pro 2.  Occasionally I make further adjustments to the final tone mapped image in Lightroom but for the most part I try to finalize the image in NIK's HDR Efex Pro 2.

I have included all five of the different exposures to demonstrate what each exposure provides as far as overall range and details. The number of exposures you take really depends on the varying degrees of light in your scene. When you have scenes that have drastic contrasting areas of brightly lit pieces combined with dark areas you may want to include more exposures in your bracket in order to achieve the best results. In some cases you can even get away with just three. I tend to always do at least five. 

The next example demonstrate a shot with direct sunlight being part of the picture. In this case I could of shot more exposures and probably been able to achieve a better image in the end, however five seemed to do ok and I was lazy and didn't want to keep fiddling with the camera. However this is an example where given the direct sunlight, having a couple more exposures, probably would of provided me with better dynamic range in the final shot.

This next shot is another example of capturing the direct sunlight in the frame and for this particular one, the sun was a tad bit higher then in the previous example. This definitely caused more ambiant light to contend with.

When I am capturing bracketed shots for HDR pictures I tend to set up my main exposure to be somewhat on the darker side or around 1/3 stop below normal and I try not to have too much clipping in the higher exposures.  


Additional Shots

The rest of the pictures are examples of other areas that I found intriguing during my visits. Even though the park is surrounded by main roads that typically have high volumes of traffic you can definitely find areas where you feel somewhat isolated. If you work at your composition you can also create scenes that people would argue don't exist in this park.

Each image typically has some slight adjustments done within Lightroom and depending on the mood of the scene I will either convert to black and white or apply one of the awesome Visual Supply Co's VSCOFilm presets.