My Slot Canyon image was created using hand-HDR layering from four exposures, as I explain in my original blog posting about the color version and in my forthcoming book Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography. The color version is reproduced on page 67 on the section on using a tripod.
The placement of the photo in the section of my book discussing tripod tips and techniques is apt, because in an environment like a slot canyon finding a way to keep camera and tripod stable through a sequence of shots—and keeping one’s gear sand free—is a very real issue.
It is easy to getting bogged down in the physics and physicality—the tyranny of the world of “things”—and forget to look for the ethereal magic than can make a photographic composition really sing.
With Slot Canyon the play of light coming down the narrow cleft in the rocks was pretty exciting. So far so good. But I kept looking for something more, something to elevate and contrast with the textures in the stone. When I spotted the tumbleweed bush on the right, momentarily lit by a sunbeam, I knew I had found my key.
I was lucky to be able to get set up and make my four exposures before the light changed.
If you are interested, here’s the exposure data: 50mm, 4 exposures at shutter speeds 0.8 of a second, 1.3 seconds, 2.5 seconds, and 4 seconds, each exposure at f/29 and ISO 200, tripod mounted.