A Day At The Beach

When I looked out my window at 4:05am I saw the guys parked out front, ready for our day at the beach. We loaded up our cameras and off we went down Hwy 26 to Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park for the sunrise. We arrived in time to set up and be in position for the sunrise. We had some diffused overcast with the sun playing peak a boo with us throughout the morning…

After a satisfying morning of shooting we had built up quite an appetite so, we headed to Cannon Beach and the Lazy Susan Cafe for a much earned, delicious breakfast. The day included several stops along the coastline photographing icon Oregon Coast Scenes. The light remained overcast for much of the day giving us soft, flat light to work with. We ended up in Pacific City in in time for a late lunch. The next few hours were spent downloading cards, going over images, doing some digital darkroom work while enjoying a snack at the Pelican Pub Brewery. With the last few hours of daylight remaining, we put our computers away, gathered our cameras and headed up the sand dune to photograph the sunset along the coastline. The cloud cover from the day remained through sunset but, with the diffused light there were still images to be made. By using my Singh Ray Vari-ND filter I was able to slow the shutter speed down to capture the blurred motion of the incoming tide. I like the blurred motion effect when photographing moving water as it conveys a sense of motion and time. When photographing moving water at slow shutter speeds, I use a tripod to make sure the camera is stable during the long exposures and once I have determined the correct ISO/Aperture/Shutter Speed combination I shoot several images in sequence as the water is constantly moving and no two images will be the same.

The three days flew by. I had a wonderful time sharing my part of the world and my knowledge of photography with a couple of really enthusiastic students. We were fortunate to have a variety of weather and great subjects to photograph as Monday and Tuesday brought heavy rain and wind. Of course, that wouldn’t stop us, we would simply change gears and go into storm photography, big wave mode. That’s the beauty of photographing nature…it’s like that box of chocolates that Forrest Gump used to so eloquently describe life…you never know what your going to get.
Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 70-200mm VR II, AF-S 24-70mm on Lexar Digital Media

Tech Tuesday…Graduated ND

Once we have established that there is a problem with a straight exposure, like here in this image from Mt Hood, we need to determine what tools we have at hand to remedy the problem. Late one afternoon I was at Mt Hood photographing the reflection and my blinkies were telling me the snow on the mountain was blowing out…

I also knew that the reflection would be a couple of stops darker than the mountain and sky so, I had two issues to deal with. I could dial in minus exposure compensation but, that would darken the whole scene and I didn’t want to darken the foreground in the process so that was not an option in this situation. Evaluating the scene…bright mountain and sky with a darker foreground reflection and knowing the tools I had to work with, I reached into my bag for the solution, a Lee 3 stop, soft graduated neutral density filter…

Holding the edges of the filter in my left hand and moving it up and down until the graduated area fell across the treeline on the horizon, I clicked the shutter and “viola”, I now had the image I wanted with detail in the snow, a darker sky and a well exposed reflection…

Yeap, it was that simple. No tricky exposure steps, simply hold the filter in front of your lens, close to the glass (remove your lens shade to do this) and your camera will deal with the exposure. The key to using a graduated ND filter is that you need a fairly straight line between the bright and dark areas. It does not have to be a horizontal line; it can be diagonal or any angle as long as the line is straight. I don’t go out without a graduated ND filter in my bag. There is a difference in quality and neutral color between brands. I use a Lee 4X6, 3 stop, soft graduated filter. I like the over sized filter when working with wide angle lenses and the Lee brand is the most neutral I have found. As a second choice, I would go with the HiTech brand.

Tech Facts: Image captured with Nikon D2X, AF-S 17-55mm, on Lexar Digital Media. Lee 3 stop, soft graduated ND.

If You don’t Like The Weather…

Day two of our three day shoot began with sunrise at Crown Point in the Columbia Gorge. I use the term sunrise loosely as there was quite a bit of cloud cover to hide the actual sunrise but with just enough texture in the clouds and the monochromatic light, I was thinking of finishing the image in B&W. I used Color Efex Pro 3.0> B&W Infrared to make the conversion to B&W…

The overcast was actually in our favor for photographing the waterfalls so, once we had our Crown Point images, we headed to the waterfalls. We spent the morning working the waterfalls and I was able to make some new and different images than I have in the past. I concentrated on a small area where the ferns and moss were very lush and the water flowing over the rock had a nice texture…

In all the years I have been in Oregon, I had never walked to the bridge at Wahkeena Falls so we decided to give it a shot to see what photo opps were available from this angle. While the whole section of the falls was very lovely…

…it was a small section where the water was splashing off a rock that caught my attention…

We worked the falls until lunchtime when we took a break and had a wonderful meal at Multnomah Falls before heading along the Mt Hood Loop. The weather was clearing and we had high expectations of a beautiful sunset with Mt Hood but, as we climbed in elevation and got closer to the mountain, the nice weather disappeared and we headed right into a snow storm. Not one to waste an opportunity, we paused to photograph the freshly covered trees. Once again the monochromatic scene had me thinking of B&W…

Not only was the weather not cooperating for a Mt Hood Sunset, the road to Trillium Lake where we wanted to photograph reflections of Mt Hood was closed. So, we headed back towards better weather and were rewarded for our efforts with a brilliant rainbow…

To me, this is what photography is all about…chasing the light, taking advantage of what Mother Nature throws at us and coming home with the rewards, great images! We had a day of rain, hail, snow, and yes, even some sun. When the weather changed we simply went in search of the best subjects for the light.

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 24-70mm, AF-S 70-200mm VR II on Lexar Digital Media.

My Own Back Yard

I travel so much and when I am home I seem to be chained to my computer catching up on business, processing images, making prints, etc that I don’t get to shoot in my own backyard that often. So when Bob & Charles contacted me for a few days of personalized shooting I said yes right away. I never turn down a chance to shoot in my backyard. We began the day photographing Portland from across the river at the East Side Esplanade where we worked on panos. I used my 70-200mm VR II in vertical orientation to minimize distortion and to get higher resolution…

Our next stop was the west side of the river where we wandered the streets looking for interesting subjects. I worked several reflections and the graphic elements of the buildings…

We spent several hours working our images before heading out for an evening of shooting. Union Station was our first stop where we did some HDR work. I chose my fisheye…

Our final destination was to photograph the cityscape at night but we were rained out with a Portland shower so we called it a night and headed back to prepare for another adventure tomorrow.

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 70-200mm, AF 16mm Fisheye on Lexar Digital Media