Looking straight down at the rock formation at Edward Weston Beach in the Point Lobos State Reserve, near Carmel, CA, I was struck how the rock formation looked like a shell—perhaps the polished interior of a mussel shell.
As I conceptualized my photo, I kept in mind the shell shapes that this rock formation evoked. It was high tide, and the rock had bright pockets as well as small, dark tide pools with colored rock inside. Clearly I needed more than a single exposure to capture the entire tonal range of this subject. So I shot five exposures, at shutter speeds from 1/30 of a second to 3/5 of a second. Each exposure was at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.
To combine the exposures, I started by converting a RAW exposure for the background, then used the lighter exposures to layer-in adjustments to the areas that were deep in shadow and too dark.