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Behind The Shot: Apostle Islands Sea Caves

Behind The Shot

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

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Photographer/Filmer/Edior: Alex Fraser

Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, mini-tripod

Settings: ISO 100, f/11, 7-exp HDR

Backstory: The Apostle Islands Sea Caves, along the shore of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, are usually only accessible by kayak on calm Summer days. In certain Winter conditions, however (a long cold snap, and a lack of northwest winds), enough ice can form to make them accessible on foot. With the caves open for the first time in five years, some friends and I made the four hour drive from Minneapolis to see the sight.

I shoot with a wide angle lens for 95% of my landscapes, so I was packing light with just my 5DMk3 body and the Rokinon 14mm. The Rokinon is full-manual, which can get a little fiddly up close, but for most landscapes you can just focus at infinity (which for the lens means anything further away than ten feet) with a narrow aperture and fire away. I was shooting 7-exposure HDR (-3 stops to +3) with auto-exposure bracketing in aperture priority mode, so I moved the ISO settings around to match shutter speeds with what I could reasonably hold steady by hand most of the time, but for a few of the shots inside the caves I let the mini-tripod get low and take some longer exposures at ISO 100.

Alex lives in Minneapolis, MN, and shoots mostly sports and landscapes, but he’ll shoot your wedding too if you like his style. He keeps a running gallery of his favorite photos on his 500px page. Check out all of the photos from his Apostle Islands trip.

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Scott Roeder is a wedding photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also an avid diver. His specialties include photo booths, videography, and action shooting. Check out his work on his website.


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