I didn't have the best start into my Northern Ireland phototrip back in 2012. I lost the first day thanks to a delayed flight, and when I finally arrived in Antrim, the weather was all grey and rainy.
The day I took the photo "Bloody Causeway" was the same. In the evening, as I drove up to the Giant's Causeway visitor center, I didn't expect much. I was even considering not going at all. But I still went down to the coast scouting on those hexagonal rocks for potential compositions. As special and unique that area might be, without the right light, the test shots I took just looked flat and dull.
Just minutes before sunset a little gap opened at the horizon and the sun peaked through. It wasn't much but hope returned. A few minutes later it began: The sky exploded in an intense display of colours. Waves were crashing onto the Causeway and the reddish tones of the sky reflected on the wet rocks. This presented the perfect shooting opportunity.
Since I didn't know how long the light would last, I didn't take chances. I used a Lee 0.6 soft and a Lee 0.6 hard GND (Graduated neutral density filter) to get an even exposure and then took four photos where I gradually shifted the focus from back to front. These I later used for focus stacking. I have a video tutorial available here showing the post processing from start to finish, all the way from the stacking of the photos to the final adjustments.
After taking this photo, I continued for about half an hour, moving from composition to composition, occasionally waiting for some people to leave the field of view of my camera. It was such an awesome evening and even more special, because totally unexpected. I definitely gained a lot of motivation that evening. Motivation to not trust the weather forecast, to not care if it's raining or if a solid bank of clouds blocks the sun at the horizon for sunset. Most of the time I head out in vain but the few times when the clouds break up is what really counts. - Michael Breitung
This image is available as a print here. See more of Breitung's work at his website, www.mibreit-photo.com. Follow him on 500px, Google+ and Facebook. He offers a number of shooting and post processing video tutorials via his YouTube page here.
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II wide angle zoom lens @ 16mm, Lee 0.6 soft GND and Lee 0.6 hard GND optical filters, Benro Flexpod C-298EX tripod, Induro PHQ1 5-Way tripod head - 6 second exposure @ f/9.5 with multiple shots for focus stacking - ISO 100