Archives for February 2013

Destination Cuba

Edsel copy


I’m off to Cuba in a couple of hours.  I’ll be off the radar for the next week.  Will have lot’s of photos to post when I return.  Stay tuned.

Tech Tuesday: Stop Action

Tech Tuesday pano


Last Tuesday’s Tech Tuesday was related to creating blur motion through the use of slow shutter speeds.  This week I’ll go the other direction and speed up my shutter speeds to illustrate stop action; in this case capturing the power of the surf…

ISO 100 f16 1/125

ISO 100 1/125 @ f16


This isn’t a case of simply dialing a wider aperture resulting in a faster shutter speed and firing away.  There are many factors that go into stopping the action.  For one, how far away is the subject?  In this case the waves were quite a ways out and I was using a wide angle lens so I didn’t need a super fast shutter speed to capture the waves sharply enough to pick up the patterns in the incoming surf.  By going to opposite of blurring the waves, we captured texture, patterns and a sense of the inexorable power of the waves as set after set roll towards shore.  The tides rise, the tides drop, and the waves continue their journey to shore, one after another…

ISO 100 1/180 @ f8

ISO 100 1/180 @ f8


With my camera in aperture priority mode I began opening the aperture until the shutter speed seemed fast enough to capture the wave action and fired off a few shots.  Opening my aperture just a bit more and a final test shot confirmed that 1/180 of a second would sufficiently capture the waves as they pounded each other in their race to shore.  With plenty of light, I was able to keep my ISO low, reducing any noise and still have enough aperture and shutter speed variations to work with to capture the effect I was after…

ISO 200 1/350 @ f8

ISO 200 1/350 @ f8


Tech Specs…

-Mid-morning, partly cloudy sky with light dancing across the waves

-Camera/Lens mounted to sturdy tripod

-Compose the scene to my liking

-Fire a test shot for exposure information, review the histogram and/or Highlight Warnings on camera’s rear lcd, establish a “base” exposure

-Adjust ISO and/or aperture to find the shutter speed that provides the amount of stop action desired.

-In addition to the distance and the focal length in shutter speed selection, the speed of the water will determine how fast a shutter speed is needed to stop the action to a desired effect.

-Once I have found the Aperture/Shutter Speed/ ISO combination that I like, I fire off a series of images.  With stop action I never know what interesting patterns or explosions I might capture so I shoot multiples of each composition looking to capture that perfect moment in the curl when the translucent colors literally glow as the wave crests.

-If there is not enough light to increase my shutter speed enough to capture the stop action I am looking for, I begin to increase my ISO to higher settings

*Note: These stop action techniques can be created with any moving subject.


-Nikon D4 with AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 G VR

-Gitzo GT3531 Carbon Fiber Tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead


Surf’s Up

My final afternoon at the beach I once again treated myself to a little photo time and my travels led me to Indian Beach (at Ecola State Park).  The surf was high, the light was soft and there were some great sea stacks to include in my compositions to provide an anchor.  I found one that was isolated and framed it to include the foreground surf…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VRf11  1/2 sec  100 ISO

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR
f11 1/2 sec 100 ISO


I liked the power of the waves and did not want to totally blur them down to cotton candy but, I also wasn’t in the mood for stop action, pounding waves.  I was in more of a reflective mood and found that some blur to soften the waves and yet not negate their power was just what fit my vision.  To find the shutter speed that best suited the effect I was looking to achieve, I began lowering the ISO to reduce any noise and clicked off a few frames.  I then began opening my aperture until I found the shutter speed that gave me just the right amount of blurring and waited for a wave set.

Ecola Afternoon

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR, Hoya ND400X ND Filterf38, 4 Min, 100 ISO

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR, Hoya ND400X ND Filter
f38, 4 Min, 100 ISO