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Misty Surf at Garrapata

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 28 December 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (Workshop Sold Out)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
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Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
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Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (only 5 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Full Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - 3rd Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - October 9-13, 2011 (only 4 spots remaining).
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Having been a huge Rolling Stones fan growing up, it has been fun reading Keith Richards Life book over the Holidays. In one part of the book, Richards talks about how songs would come into his mind in the middle of the night. He would always keep his guitar and a cassette recorder near his bed and would basically record the song then go back to sleep.

I could relate to that process with the creation of this image that I have actually had rolling around in my mind for the past month. With some time on my hands yesterday, my wife and I decided to make the 45-minute drive to Big Sur's Garrapata State Park to see if I could make my vision a reality. Having checked the forecast, I knew the coast would be relatively clear, just the type of conditions I was hoping for.

My vision was to create a misty look to the surf while the rocks caught the warm light of sunset. With the illumination level relatively high, I needed the help of my Singh-Ray Vari ND Duo that allowed me to dial-in up to 8-stops of neutral density and set my polarizer (as I was 90-degrees off-axis to the sun). In turn, this allowed for an almost 2-minute exposure, which turned the raging ocean to a soft mist. Because there was not much going on with the sky, I decided to eliminate it from the final composition. I used my 70-200 mmL lens set to f/22 and carefully framed this image allowing my eye to drift around the perimeter of the frame checking for unwanted elements.

Because I had activated Long Exposure Noise Reduction, I only had time for a handful of compositions before the sun set. Having recently spent a day with Josh Haftel and Tony Corbell at Nik Software, I've re-thought my workflow processing a bit and have eliminated setting Clarity and Vibrance from my RAW processing, opting instead to do any edge-contrast sharpening as the final step. I will be teaching this new workflow in my 2011 Workshops starting January in Big Sur.

A bit of noise was also showing up in the water and was eliminated with the help of Topaz Software DeNoise 5. What I like about this noise reduction software is it's ability to take out noise while not leaving that pasty look to the image. It actually retains the detail in the image! Moreover, the surface of the ocean often reflects blue skylight, making it appear bluer. The relative contribution of reflected skylight and the light scattered back from the depths depends strongly on the observation angle and as you can see, by my angle of view, the water appeared quite blue in this frame.

My final step was to sharpen just the rocks and I accomplished that with the help of Nik Software's Sharpener Pro 3.0 and the brush tool. I never want to sharpen anything in the image that should be soft, and certainly the surf is what is soft in this image.

Both Nik and Topaz Software are a regular part of my workflow. If you are interested in purchasing any of their awesome products, please use my CODES listed below to receive a discount. Also check out the Holiday Specials from Nik Software that are available until Monday!

I encourage you to pursue your own visions. I'm sure you have those mental images rolling around inside of your mind. Grab your gear and see if you can't convert your visions into images. I think of it as sort of a proactive instead of reactive approach to your landscape photography!

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Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 109 second F/22.0 ISO 100 155 mm

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