Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunset at Hendry's

.8 sec at 18mm, f/16, and ISO 100

This was a great trip, I came back with a ton of exciting photos that will probably take me months to process. This was one of the best.

The trip was also made extra awesome by a special companion.

Logan and dad at Hendry's beach

I've found it really hard over the past year to be flexible enough to make it to the beach when the sunset is looking promising. Things have gotten a little more relaxed lately, though, (now that "sunset season" in Santa Barbara is over!) and I think I should be able to steal away from time to time for some sunset photography. One idea Jess had suggested was for me to try bringing Logan along, since he's old enough now to have a little fun at the beach. Initially I was worried that it wouldn't work because I'd never have enough time to set up a shot before I had to pick up the camera and chase after him. He can't really get into much trouble out there, though, so I think it could actually work in general.

It turned out to be kind of a terrible day to bring him... It was really cold and windy, and the tide was pretty high. I bundled him up as best I could, and I ended up setting him down on some rocks in a little alcove (you can see it on the right side of the photo) that mostly kept him protected from the wind. Someone probably would have called child protective services on me if they saw us, but the beach was completely cleared out by the weather :)

You're a trooper buddy!

Editing this one was rough. It was a promising photo so the stakes were high, and I kept second-guessing myself. I knew that I had to get it done in one sitting (or else I'd let it sit "almost done" forever!), so I brewed some tea, put some music on, and cranked away for a good two hours straight. Below are the before and after.

I'm still trying to perfect the technique for this type of photo. A lot of photographers use graduated filters on their lenses in order to expose for the foreground without blowing out the sky. Filters can be expensive, though, and the horizon is rarely a straight line all the way across (for example, the cliffs to the right in this one), so my hope has been to use clever editing to pull it off.

In theory, I want one exposure where the foreground is well-exposed and the water is how I want it, and then I want a second exposure where the sky is exposed well, and I can blend those together. I've yet to pull this off, though. I think a big part of it is just that I get too excited when I'm out there and don't give the technique enough thought. The other problem is that the sky and foreground can't be too far apart in exposure or it won't look natural.

I'll have to think it through some more and try to be more on-task next time. I may have some photos lying around that I can at least try this technique out on. In the meantime, I do ok with just a single exposure that I apply a "virtual" graduated filter to, but I'm often stretching the foreground exposure to its limits.

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