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Keywords:camera techniques, creeks, danger, ecosystems, environment, exposure, forests, habitats, moody, mysterious, mystery, rivers, scenery, slow shutter, water, waterways
The lurking pool

The lurking pool

Limited depth of field and subdued lighting lend themselves to a fantasy rendition of this rainforest creek. Which predator is lying in wait: bass, Murray cod, barramundi, crocodile?

Hunting is part of my DNA. In my youth I used rifles and fishing rods. Nowadays I use a camera and fishing rod. A sight like this is enough to quicken my angler's pulse. The mystery of what lurks beneath, and how big, is part of the allure of hunting with a fishing rod.
When I came upon this scene on a photography outing with my friend Des Crawley, my imagination stirred. Although Australian bass and eels were the species likely to inhabit this pool on Upsalls Creek near Kendall, I have been in similar places where larger predators were on the cards: Australia's largest freshwater fish, the Murray cod; barramundi; crocs. In tropical rainforest streams, smaller, feisty predators like jungle perch and sooty grunter have been my quarry.

Although the snag in the middle of the pool is the likely headquarters for fish, it doesn't need to be the centre of attention. Rendering it as a murky, out-of-focus background element fits with my responses of anticipation, concentration and contained excitement when stalking unseen fish.
To limit depth of field, I used a wide-open aperture of f2.8 and a zoom lens set at 100mm and focussed on twigs and leaves marooned on a rock in the foreground. With the camera on a tripod, and a 10 stops neutral density (darkening) filter fitted to the lens, the required exposure was six seconds. Why did I want such a slow exposure? To enable motion blur to smooth ripples on the water; I wanted nothing sharply rendered except the still life arrangement of the twigs and leaves on the rock.

The image on the left is as captured by the camera. The image on the right is the way I want to present the image to convey what I visualised. Using simple adjustments in Lightroom, the contrast, luminance and definition of the background scene has been reduced. The rock and its castaways in the foreground have been warmed by the application of an orange tinted local adjustment brush. The presence of the rock island has also been enhanced with a local sharpening adjustment brush.
A dark, textured digital border has been added in Photoshop to complete the presentation of what I visualised and felt when I came upon the scene.

I can see an open-mouthed python lurking in the background. The treatment of the foreground evokes the idea of the little rock island being a place of tenuous sanctuary in the mysterious pool.

6sec | f2.8 | 100mm | ISO 200 | + tripod + ND filter | 2 Sep 2016 ®