Tag Archives: water

Working a composition

When I come across something interesting to photograph, I do not click one image of an obvious composition and walk away.  I start with the obvious compositions, but I keep refining and altering my position, until I have attempted a lot of variations.  Very often, when I review my work later in Lightroom, I find that my later refinements bring out the fine keepers.

I photographed a waterfall along Fern Creek in Muir Woods, CA, last week.  Let me illustrate how I worked the composition in that case.

The following image is the first image I made when I saw the waterfalls.

Waterfall, Fern Creek, Muir Woods, CA, USA

The first image made of the waterfalls

This first image has a number of branches coming in the way of the view of the falls.  Clearly, I don’t like it and try another shot by moving a bit.  The next image shown here removes a bunch of the blocks and the view is somewhat clear.  However, one fern leaf snuck into the lower end of the image.  It is important to understand that I was viewing through the viewfinder on my f2.8 lens, but I was shooting f22.  This causes this fern leaf to be almost invisible in the viewfinder, due to shallow depth of field, but it shows up in the f22 image.  Plus there is a brown twig in the lower left of the image.  I see all this in my LCD panel and decide to try again.

Waterfall, Fern Creek, Muir Woods, CA, USA

The next image made

I moved and made the following image, in an attempt to remove distracting blocks to the view of the falls.  The following image has problems though.  Some other brown dried leaf has now snuck in, plus the brown twig on the left is still there.

Waterfall, Fern Creek, Muir Woods, CA, USA

The next image made

After some more adjustments to my tripod position, I made the following image.  This composition is almost OK, but, during the 30 second long exposure, I got distracted talking to my kids in the nearby trail and accidentally touched/hit the tripod during the exposure.  Observing the top edge of the rock, just after the falls, I realize that it is not exactly sharp, due to the accidental hit to the tripod during the exposure.

The next image made

I try again, this time getting a sharp image, with minimum distractions.

Waterfall, Fern Creek, Muir Woods, CA, USA

The next image made

Taking one of the final frames during these series, as my base, I decided to use Lightroom to crop it and develop further.  FInally, I removed some branches and twigs to clean it up further.  The final result is as shown below.

Waterfall, Fern Creek, Muir Woods, CA, USA

My final finished image

Many beginners ask me what I mean, when I say “work the composition more”.  I decided to illustrate using this example.

Let me know if you have any feedback on this post.

Surf along Pacific Grove in California

I visited the coast along Pacific Grove one Sunday morning a couple of weeks back.  It was a cloudy day with a slight drizzle.  I wanted to make photographs anyway.  Usually, I look for landscapes with my wide angle lens, composing near-far images.  Unfortunately, I was just beginning to use my Nikon D700, for which the required tripod L-plate was back-ordered.  I was left with only one choice, my 70-200 telephoto (this lens is mounted on the tripod and the camera hangs off of it).  It was an interesting constraint to work with.  After walking around for a while, I figured out a spot from which I could see the surf hitting the rocks along the coast forming interesting patterns as the water washed over the rocks.  I decided to photograph these patterns.  I shot about 200 frames that morning, each one attempting to time the flow of the water just when interesting patterns occurred.  Furthermore, I decided to make long exposures to capture the sense of movement.  To achieve this, I set the ISO to 200 (the native ISO of my Nikon D700), the aperture to f22 (to get the longest shutter speed possible) and let the camera operate in aperture priority mode.  The shutter speeds as determined by my camera ranged from 1/6 s to 1/13 s during my whole shoot.  The 70-200mm f2.8 lens was mounted on my RRS BH-55 Ballhead on my Gitzo 1340 Tripod.  Furthermore, I had my GPS-1A unit on to tag the GPS co-ordinates to my images and I was triggering using a cable release.  Here are a few images from the session, post processed using Lightroom 5 and Google’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

 

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

Surf, Pacific Grove, CA, USA

 

Best time to shoot landscapes

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn, Mammoth Lakes area, Eastern Sierra, California, USA  (6:57AM)

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn, Mammoth Lakes area, Eastern Sierra, California, USA (7:19AM)

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn

June Lake and Sierra Crest at dawn, Mammoth Lakes area, Eastern Sierra, California, USA (7:21AM)

I made the first image at 6:57 AM.  I made the second image at 7:19AM.  I made the last image at 7:21AM.  All on the same day.

I am reminded of a lesson that John Shaw taught us in his January 2011 seminar in Santa Clara, CA.  “Don’t be late to work”.