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Undersea Treasure, Weston Beach, Pt. Lobos

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 25 November 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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I truly believe that self-assignments are a great way to grow as a photographer. My self-assignments are often-times centered on trying out a new piece of equipment but lately I have set goals for improving my way of seeing our natural world.

Fortunately I live close to one of my favorite photographic playgrounds, Pt. Lobos State Reserve located just south of Carmel, California. On a recent late afternoon, I set my goals to a:) work with my Tilt/Shift 24mm lens for at least one hour, then b:) work on finding a workable sunset location to further test my HDR skills with the new Nik HDR Efex Pro software. Though these goals centered around a piece of equipment and software I nonetheless made it a goal to try a new way of seeing an old friend.

Taking a quick look at my tide chart app on my iPhone indicated I was arriving at low tide. I made a beeline to Weston Beach (named after famed Carmel photographer Ed Weston) and was pleasantly surprised to find five photographers working with their 4x5 cameras (I was immediately transported back to my high school days) when I used to roam around this idyllic Reserve with my trusty Minolta ST-101 35 mm. Transport me to present day and not much has changed (except my 35 mm is now digital).

Part of what I love about this little cove is the hidden treasures that are revealed when the tide is out. I simply wandered about looking for something to draw my attention. I first spotted a bright orange starfish and immediately set about working that scene. When satisfied that I had exhausted all the compositional possibilities, I wandered around a bit more until this lovely pock-marked, lichen colored sandstone rock caught my eye.

Part of the fun of working with a Tilt/Shift lens is it allows one the ability to isolate a subject - in this scene the rock - and allows the rest of the image to be relegated to a softer non-distracting focus. It was about 45 minutes until sunset and the horizon was already starting to take on a warm glow, so I wanted to include a small portion of it to allow for a greater sense of depth in my scene.

I used my Singh-Ray Darryl Benson 3-stop Reverse Grad to hold down the exposure on the brightest portion of the sky and turned on Live View to help with the placement of the filter. I also set Live View at 5x enlargement to help me find the best focus point on the rock. I did bracket my focus points as I knew that I had only a narrow band that I could register tack sharp with my relatively wide-opened aperture of f/5.0.

In a recent video interview I watched with Washington, D.C. photojournalist, David Burnett, he talks about the need for photographers to continue to experiment. He talks about the many crappy assignments he has had over the years and how he always challenges himself to find something new and different every time out. I think this is something we all need to pay attention to. Break out of the mold (that's a good word) of what makes you comfortable. Try something new every time out. It doesn't have to be a major change in your shooting style, in fact, you can make the image the way you like, then push yourself to try photographing a bit different. Once a photographer gets stagnet, so will the images. Stay playful and creative. Isn't that why got you into photography in the first place?

BTW - Nik is having a BLACK FRIDAY sale on all of their amazing software. Check out the prices below when you apply my code: DSMITH. Prices good until 11:59 pm November 30!

Discount Pricing:

Complete Collection Ultimate Edition $419.95 ($180 savings)
Complete Collection Lightroom/Aperture Edition $219 ($80 savings)
Color Efex Pro 3 Complete $209.95 ($90 savings)
Dfine 2 $69.95 ($30 savings)
HDR Efex Pro $139.95 ($20 savings)
Silver Efex Pro $139.95 ($60 savings)
Sharpener Pro 3 $139.95 ($60 savings)
Viveza 2 $139.95 ($60 savings)

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/8 second F/5.0 ISO 100 24 mm

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