Greig Houghton Photography
Landscape, Street and Travel Photography


Irish Landscape and Travel Photography Blog

Back to Manor Kilbride

A weeks ago a wrote a blog post about my visit to Manor Kilbride to capture the autumn colours. As it happened, I was a few weeks early but last weekend I had the chance to revisit the area for a South Kildare Photography Club outing. 

Returning to this beautiful part of Wicklow the timing was just about perfect for capturing autumn colours.  This spot is well known by local photographers and it is no surprise that despite our early start we were beaten to the location by a small group of photographers from another local club.  Not deterred, we patiently worked around each other respectful of each others framing.  I started off further downstream than I wanted and then worked my way back upstream as the other club were finishing.

The Shankhill River, a tributary to the River Liffey, was full and fast flowing and gorged its way between the green moss covered rocks and orange carpeted banks.  The morning light penetrated the overhead canopy illuminating spots of lights on the banks and tree trunks and providing glimpses of the bright blue sky through leaves above.  For the majority of my shots I left was two options. Either compose to cut out any sky and bright spots on trunks and the floor or bracket and combine in post processing later.  The later would require some additional work as although bracketing would capture all the light range, the brightest spots of the sky where light penetrated the canopy would still be much brighter than the main subject of the frame and would immediately attract the viewers eye.

Depending on the light for each shot I generally shot a bracket of exposures from -4ev to +2ev in one stop increments.  Before shooting the brackets on scene, I experimented with my base shutter speed.  I did not want to completely blur all the water and wished to retain some tendrils in the small waterfalls.  To achieve this my shutter speed was between 1 and 3 seconds depending on the part of the river I was shooting.

I combined the bracketed exposures using Photomatix.  To prevent additional blurring of the water I used the ghosting feature in Photomatix to select the single best exposure for the water which was generally 0ev or +1ev.  Generally for these images I used the fusion function to blend the exposures trying to create a flat image with the full dynamic range which I can then process in Lightroom to achieve the look I wanted for the photograph.

Just before leaving the area, I noticed this tiny mushroom growing in a tree trunk and had to try and capture it.  The location of the mushroom was such that it was impossible to get my tripod near enough so I opted to handhold the camera.  This required cranking the ISO up to 1600 at f/18 gave me a shutter speed of 0.4s. I used f/18 to try and get as much of the mushroom and stalk in focus which was difficult due to the level of zoom and proximity of the lens to the subject. I braced the camera against the trunk to try and get as steady as possible and hoped the optical stabilisation in the lens would do its job.  I tried for a different look for this photo by switching to black and white and adding a heavy vignette.  I wanted to emphasise  the delicate texture of the cap of the mushroom against the soft mossiness of the background.