Daily Photo – Wall of Water

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

One very big wave for one very small boogie boarder.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2000
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM + Canon 1.4x Extender (effective 420mm)

Composition and Processing

  • Even from the cliffs at Lighthouse Point, I had no way of shooting any tighter than this with my gear (other than the 2x extender, which is a touch sluggish with autofocus for this subject).  With 21mp I had some room to crop though, and brough it in tight to emphasize the height of the wave.  By not seeing past the top, and removing some of the foreground water, there are fewer reference points for scale.  The wall of water simply dwarfs the boarder and you lose sight of the fact he’s probably well in front of it at this point (and not about to be pummelled).  The compression of shooting at 420mm furthers that illusion.
  • One neat thing about surfing shots that emphasize the relationship of the rider to wave size is the way the path of the board tracks up into the lip of the wave.  This boogie boarder didn’t start there, or at least, not while the wave was breaking.  But it looks like he came hurtling down the now vertical surface.   Don’t get me wrong:  the guy in this photo is flying (literally;  he’s actually airborne in the shot).  But it wasn’t nearly so dramatic as it looks.

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February 18 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Surfer at Sunset

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

The cliffs at Lighthouse Point, in Santa Cruz, extend a good distance out into the sea.  That’s convenient for photographers, enabling them to shoot the surfers as the waves roll by.  But it’s also useful for the surfers, who walk back along the cliff and drop into the water again off the point rather than paddle all the way back out.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM + Canon 1.4x Extender (effective 420mm)

Composition and Processing

  • When it comes to sunsets, there’s a huge disparity between what we see and what the sensor (or film) captures.  The original shot here looks dull and lifeless, but truthfully, the final version is pretty close to how I remember it.  It almost looks like I’ve introduced additional color to the shot; however, all I’ve actually done is pushed up the saturation and shifted the orange hues to red a little more.  The information is there, just somewhat muddled.
  • One side benefit of shooting silhouettes against sunsets (or any other non-descript background) is that you can completely disregard realism when it comes to color correction.  You can also process entirely to the background since your subject is a single tone.  While this shot didn’t take much work, I could have easily changed the color to just about anything depending on the mood I wanted to convey.  It may sound like an obvious point, but there’s little need to be authentic in this sort of composition.

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February 08 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Fire on the Grass

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Here’s a rare photo of mine from Lighthouse Point that doesn’t have a surfer in it.  This guy is part of the performance group Kinetica, based out of Northern California.  All I can say is that fire must be pretty warm, because it was low forties when this shot was taken.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Original:

Composition and Processing

  • The nice thing about shooting fire at night is that it brings its own illumination to the shot.  Unfortunately, the dynamic range often exceeds that of a modern digital camera:  the more you increase the exposure to lighten the subject, the more you lose detail in the fire itself (as is the case above, where both highlights and shadows were clipped).
  • Fire in motion is even more challenging, since varying parts of the subject are in and out of shadow quite rapidly.  Auto-focus sensors don’t like that.  This might be a case where manual focus would be the better choice, except most folks (myself included) can’t track a moving subject in the dark at f/1.4.
  • As for the shot itself, the low end of the bar has lit the ground just enough to create an isolated platform in the darkness on which the subject stands.  It’s a bit off to his left, but that matches the direction he’s looking and the angle of the bar (and is also why I cropped him to the left of the frame).

January 24 2009 | Photography | No Comments »