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There's a beautiful peat bog at the eastern edge of my home city of Ottawa that I visit often. On this day the bulrushes were swaying in a westerly wind and the scene was lit by the low-angled autumn sun.

To capture the motion of the windswept bulrushes I set a shutter speed of 1/4 second. The trees in the background were relatively motionless but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't capture them in sharp focus with the slow shutter speed. This mattered because I wanted to contrast the blur of the bulrushes with the sharp stillness of the trees.

Maybe the elevated boardwalk I stood on was vibrating slightly. Who knows? Point was, I needed an easy solution.

I took a second exposure (not shown here) at a fast shutter speed to freeze the trees. In photoshop I combined the top part of the the fast-shutter image with the bottom part of the slow-shutter image.

I had used a neutral density filter for the slow-shutter image, and removed the filter for the fast-shutter image. As a result, the color temperature of the two images was not identical. (In my experience, neutral density filters are not entirely "neutral"). I used color temperature, color balance and hue/saturation adjustments to blend the images together.

I used fine contrast and tone curve adjustments to accentuate the way the sunlight illuminated the tops of the bulrushes. I raised the overall exposure level to correct for underexposure of the BEFORE image. 

Because I was shooting almost directly into the sun, colors were a little washed out so I did a vibrancy adjustment to compensate.

I cropped the image to reduce empty sky at the top and eliminate the small section of boardwalk railing at the lower left. I also changed the aspect ratio (from 3:2 to 3:1.75) to accentuate the horizontal line where bulrushes meet forest.


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