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Dan McClanahan's picture

Frozen Estuary

February 6, 2019

Long exposure portrait at Jökulsárlón. This was taken at 11am with a Lee Big Stopper ND filter to make the other tourists disappear and to create the ethereal mixture of glass and blur. Canon 5dsr, 24-70 2.8 ii. This image won a bronze medal in the World Photographic Cup for Team USA last year!

28mm · f/16 · 13.0 sec · ISO 100
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14 Comments

Jordan McChesney's picture

Amazing work. This looks like another planet!

John Pettigrew's picture

Simply stunning!!!!

Magnus Ådegren's picture

Fantastic light and mood!

Michael Kormos's picture

Curious, Dan, is this a composite? I notice the clouds and icebergs in the distance with motion blur, but the iceberg and water in the foreground seems razor sharp.

I've been in Jokulsarlon myself so I know these floating chunks of ice aren't known for standing still.

Beautiful light.

Dan McClanahan's picture

This is a single frame. The focal iceberg is anchored to the floor of the shallows, thus preventing it from moving. The moving water was farther out in the channel where you can see blur in the larger icebergs. This was a happy accident as my main goal with a long exposure was to make passing tourists disappear so I could create the illusion of solitude (there were hundreds there). The interesting part to me is the almost high-noon light dappling in and out of clouds, which creates a painterly effect much like light painters use on their images. The blue tone comes from the ND filter without color correction, so what you see here is extremely close to what was captured sans shadow/highlight/sharpen. I recently printed it at 45” on acrylic and it just sings! It’s easily one of my favorite captures.

Michael Kormos's picture

Makes sense. Thanks for the reply. A keeper shot indeed!

Radisa Zivkovic's picture

At first glance the work looks great.
Where these people were, specifically for this shot, that you had to use the ND filter for them.
Pretty sloppy processing, too darkened sky, over-lit foreground around the first iceberg. I don't know which Lee ND filter makes a monochrome photo, but photo looks pretty unnatural to me, movement in the sky does not follow the movement on the water, in nature reflections are always darker than the sky, etc. but I hope I was not too severe. Next time I wish you more careful and slow processing.

Dan McClanahan's picture

While I appreciate your feedback, I wasn't attempting a natural representation here. The items you point out were created that way on purpose as a way to take an over-photographed location and present it in a new way. I darkened the sky in-camera using a hard ND grad stacked with a 10-stop big stopper (which has a blue cast). As it was mid-day, the bright sky was dominating the frame and subduing it forces the eye downward in into the foreground elements while creating an intentionally otherworldly aesthetic. Sorry you don't like it, but I do. Are you a Sony shooter? I looked at your feed and your work is top-knotch! It looks like you're pulling a lot more dynamic range out of your files than I've been able to on a 5d.

Radisa Zivkovic's picture

I respect your efforts to be original at such a popular location and I know it's not easy to be different. Of course it is your estimation and decision how will the photo look like in the end in terms of expression freedom and artistic interpretation. Perhaps I'm pretty much demanding, I just thought that processing could have been better, without spoiling your idea of how the photo would look like.
I'm still a big opponent of using the ND Grad Filter in the vast majority of cases and due to many negative effects, and this can be seen on your example at the hills at the corners of the photo.
Thanks for the compliments, and I'm a Canon shooter.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Finally someone's said it!

I agree about ND grads, and especially your point, Radisa, about the sky being brighter than anything it lights in the foreground, which can't reflect more light than it gets. A dramatic look can be created, which over time, for me, becomes annoying, because it's unnatural. This is an entirely subjective view, as I don't mind a bit of "unnatural" vignetting - which you use, and so do I... :-)

And I do think you're being a bit harsh, Radisa! But Dan's a big boy, and he could take it. ;-)

Dan McClanahan's picture

Np. For context, I'm not a landscape photographer. I'm a full time portrait amd commercial photographer. Dabbling in landscapes is an occasional creative outlet for me. When I do it, my aim generally isn't to represent reality in a believable form. I'm very much interested in using the tools available at my disposal to create something that strikes me as interesting and unexpected. A majority of my client work is the opposite and I find great satisfaction in doing things differently "just because I can." It forces me (and the viewer) to re-perceive what they think they know. I understand the criticism and take it through the lens of an artist with a different objective. Criticism is always a valuable learning experience so I welcome it, even when I disagree with it. Will I still use ND grads? Absolutely. I love the look for the goal I'm trying to accomplish (in-camera vs. photoshop as much as I can, because I don't have time for that with babies).

Matt Chesebrough's picture

Great capture and use of the ND to really make the scene pop.

Chris Jablonski's picture

A very striking and beautiful image, Dan! I can understand your pride in it. Well done.

I note Radisa's remarks, and your reply.

Both of you create excellent dramatic imagery, and I am a little surprised at her criticism, although I'd often agree with the kinds of remarks she has made here. For me, the drama in this particular image makes those considerations somehow less important. It shows the ultimate subjectivity in art; I find these civil disagreements one of the most rewarding aspects of Fstoppers.

Dan McClanahan's picture

I agree! I love hearing the thought processes and opinions of others. I appreciate your comments.