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Morning Has Broken - Kauai

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 5 August 2010 in Landscape & Rural.

UPCOMING 2010 WORKSHOPS:

Summer Big Sur Photo Workshop - August, 17-20, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (space available)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011 (space available)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (just added)
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I have returned home to summertime in central California, mainly foggy mornings and clear sky days. Don't get me wrong, I love shooting in fog, so much so that I have designed a workshop around the maritime mist (see Summer Big Sur link above), but I do yearn for those incredible sunrise/sunset skies of the tropics, not to mention shooting conditions in the mid-70's at dawn (can we say shorts and sandals)!

After a long day of photographing on the south side of the island and a subsequent late return to our hotel, I help an optional sunrise shoot on the beach behind our hotel (Kauai Beach Resort) during my recently concluded Kauai workshop. A few hearty souls sauntered out of bed and were treated to this gorgeous sunrise scene. I had spotted these rocks near a small creek a couple days earlier and decided they would make nice foreground elements.

I took a low perspective with my 16-35 mmL lens and actually included more rocks in the lower portion of the frame in my original capture; yet, after playing with various crops in ACR, I decided to eliminate the bottom one-third of the frame for this more pano-looking crop. As I mentioned in my previous post, a foreground element(s) must work in harmony with the other elements in your image. I cropped the lower portion of this frame because the rocks were centered and made the overall image visually static. I settled on the negative space created by the smooth texture of the sand, but again, too much sand did not work in the original frame.

If you follow my blog with any regularity or attend any of my workshops, you've heard me discuss the importance of lines and shapes in an image. It works best for me to reduce nature's elements to their basic form and shape and then see if I can piece them together in a cohesive fashion to work the viewer's eye through the image. In this scene, I liked the how the bend in the shape of the foreground lava formed a reverse C and served to lead the eye to the ocean and ultimately the colorful sky. I felt the placement of the sun peaking through the opening in the clouds drew the eye along a diagonal away from the lava to form a Y shape. There is plenty of visual movement to keep the eye moving through the frame, and really, isn't that what we are striving to do - keep are viewer's eye on our image for more than a couple of seconds?

Of course, if I was to have consciously thought this through at 6:00 am on four hours of sleep I would have surprised even myself! I basically react to a potential scene, then trust my sense of balance by moving around until I get elements to where the image feels balanced. Do this with the camera off of the tripod as it will allow you to move more freely. Once you find your composition, then bring the tripod in to match your vision. Also, trust your sense of balance when working through a composition. Turn off that left-side of your brain that keeps placing the nagging doubts in your conscious and try to feel the harmony of the image. Remember, rules are great for math and science, but photography is an art, and similar to a successful piece of music, there must be a feeling inside you, the artist, that the image works and is in balance. The scene you are photographing should also stir your emotions, if not, how can you expect it to stir your viewer's emotions? Trust your instincts and watch your images improve!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 16/5 second F/22.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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