Ribeira da Janela
Ribeira da Janela is a truly spectacular place in the north west of Madeira island, close to the city of Porto Moniz. It’s a beach through which river flows and river water caused rocks on the beach to be very rounded and smooth. Many of them are also covered with beautiful vibrant green moss. To make things even better there is also colossal rock formation rising straight up from the ocean just a few dozen meters from the beach, creating some fantastic background.
The place is also fairly unknown. Most of the tourists visiting Ribeira da Janela go to one of the nearby viewpoints to enjoy the sunrise but not many go down to the beach so there is great chance you will be there alone (I was). Or maybe you will meet other photographers.
What I had envisioned for this place was sun rising just behind those stunning rocks, so I got there early for sunrise. It wasn’t as beautiful as I wanted because there was almost no clouds in the sky unfortunately. On the other hand it helped in creating cleaner composition thanks to a lot of negative space 🙂
On Location Photography Tips
On Location Photography Tips is a new section on my blog where I will try to share useful tips on interesting photo spots. Ok, so here are my tips for shooting on Ribeira da Janela:
- The rocks on the beach are extremely slippery (and I mean EXTREMELY) so watch your steps.
- The sun is rising directly behind the rocks so it’s a good location if you want to create some nice sunrise photos and/or want beautiful sunburst effect in your frame (you can read more about achieving this effect in this tutorial).
- The place is about 1 hour from Funchal by car so take this into account where planning sunrise photos.
- Make sure to check the tides!
- With all those round rocks and water splashing at them it’s a great place to try some long exposure photography, to create fog-like and dreamy effect (I wrote more about it here).
Taking photo and post-processing
- Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review)
- Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
- Focal length: 24 mm
- Aperture: f/22.0
- Exposure time: 8.0 s (“middle” exposure)
- ISO: 100
- Number of exposures: 6
- E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
- Flash used: no
- Tripod: yes
- Filters: Formatt Hitech 10 stop neutral density filter
- Technique: manual blending
- Software: Magic Lantern, Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC 2015, ON1 Effects 10.5
To take this image I used 10-stop neutral density filter and quite frankly it would be rare occasion when I could benefit from 14-stop or even slower filter. I was shooting directly into the sun so despite using 10-stop filter and stopping down the aperture to f/22 (what’s not really recommended due to lens diffraction), exposure was still faster than I would like (8 seconds) but as I didn’t have such filter with me I decided to go with what I had.
I took 6 exposures in total: 5 exposures were normal brackets (at 1.0 EV spacing) and 1 was additional exposure to get rid of the lens flares.
In Lightroom I did a couple of initial adjustments. First of all I dragged White Balance temperature to the left to make the colors in the image more blue-ish. I also got rid of chromatic aberration, applied lens corrections and then opened all images in Photoshop as layers.
This time I decided to go with manual blending as I wanted to have full control over the look of water as it looked very different in all frames. As you can see in the before image below, some images had much less water. But the after image shows how much water was there in the +2 EV exposure. And so I decided to use +2 EV exposure (and +1 EV exposure) for water areas.
Manual blending was the most time consuming task of the editing process and it alone took me around 4 or 5 hours. If you’re interested in what it involved, in the image to the left you can see how many layers were involved to blend these exposures. Pretty crazy, huh? And it got even worse after taking the screenshot 🙂 Basically I used +2 EV and +1 EV images for water and shadows in the rocks, -1 EV and -2 EV for the sky and the rest from 0 EV (some parts of water and general balancing to make the result look natural).
Additionally to blending the exposures I also had to fix terrible lens flaring (which was made even worse due to the use of ND filter). So I blended the additional image with the result of manual blending… but it was not enough this time – still a lot of flaring was visible. So what I did was to remove the flaring using the technique known as frequency separation. Even though frequency separation is most popular among portrait photographers, landscapers can also use it. I plan to make a tutorial on it one day, but if you’re interested to learn more about it right now, there is fantastic video by my friend Jimmy McIntyre that you can watch here.
After blending the exposures, rest of the editing was my typical workflow. So I first increased midtones contrast using luminosity masks, played a little bit with vibrancy and applied ON1 Effects plugin to add some vignetting and make details in the image more pronounced.