The same day I made all these recent flower shots, I was able to get out to Kadena Marina to do some sunset shooting. Fortunately we had a decent sky, but more importantly the location I chose had very calm waters. This led to a nice reflection of the clouds adding a nice touch to the scene. I picked two photos from this session and have struggled to pick which one is best. I'm putting them both up here on this post, let me know which one you like.
I indirectly learned a valuable lesson with this photo. Bottom-line is don't rush to post-process a photo I took the same day for posting. The other day, I posted a HDR panorama photo from a cliff-side, actually nearly the same spot as this photo. That photo was a very challenging post-processing project, and I tried to rush out a version taken the same day. The other problem is I didn't work on it until after 10pm, so I was working very fast, but the result was not very appealing. The next day after I posted that photo I was very disappointed with it. Trying to combine multiple images sequences into a good pano is hard enough, I then added the complexity of blending 5 images for each section. In the future, I've decided I will not rush out a photo from the same day, especially one that was so complicated as that one. If I want to post an image that day, then I have plenty of others sitting in an already edited queue I can use. I need to take the proper time for the photos to sink in and zero in on the "right" images to work on. That day when I got done shooting, I was excited about the pano and was going to do it whether I should've or not.
Now let me talk about today's image a bit vs. focusing on one that's not even in this post. As I stated, this was taken at the same area, but the light was better, and I took my time to see what I wanted to accomplish with this photo. This is from one image with some post-processing in Lightroom and Perfect Effects 8. I also brought it into Photoshop to remove a fence that went along the edge of the cliff in the flat area to the left (call me a cheater, I don't care. I didn't like the fence so I waved my magic "content aware" wand and made it go away). I really like this photo, in fact, it may be my favorite so far of this new year. The sky is more natural, and I gave it a soft look to match the windy day that was blowing the grass all over the place.
I was very tempted to start deleting all the posts with the HDR pano, but I decided to leave it alone. It is a record of a valuable lesson learned for the future.
This photo is an example of me trying to torture myself. This photo is an HDR panorama. What that means is I took 5 shots at different exposures for each section of the panorama. This pano is made up of 6 sections; therefore there are 30 photos that went into the making of this photo. What takes time is the processing of each HDR combination. I worked out a fairly streamlined system but I didn't start working on this photo until after 10pm, and it is now 11:30pm. It is time consuming and quite honestly it wasn't worth it (at least for this particular photo). It's not a bad photo, but there were some errors I need to look at in the future. First thing is I didn't have my focus nailed down before I took the photos. I also need to go to full manual for panoramas because if you don't you'll have different exposures as you make your way across the scene capturing the different parts. That happened in this photo (particularly on the left side) and I had to do some compensating.
The reason I went with the HDR technique was to capture a wider dynamic range with the sky being fairly bright but the ground in shadow. Learned some lesson today and will make some changes next time I try this.
I have not been very productive in my photography lately. So it was nice to grab an opportunity to go shooting yesterday evening. I decided to see what the sunset would look like from White Beach, a Navy base on the eastern side of the island and not too far from where I live. I like this location because of the numerous small sea stacks grouped together just off shore. While in these photos they look like one continuous small island, these are actually many small rocks outcroppings sticking out of the water. Fortunately, I arrived about 30 minutes before sunset so I was able to do some scouting ahead of time. Another bit of good luck was that the water was at a low mark so I was able to easily get to an area that is usually covered in water. I found two locations that I thought would be a good composition and setup the tripod.
The photo above was from my initial location. Planning is the key to getting the final result; it is not a matter of racking off a bunch of shots then trying to make something work when you get back to the computer. Sometimes there are lucky breaks (the puddle on the bottom right reflecting the clouds in the sky is an example of this; it wasn't there when I setup but with the tides coming in it filled and I got lucky to get a reflection), but to get what you're looking for it requires a vision ahead of time. Now as you probably know about me now, I'm not afraid of post-processing, but what you may not know is that most of that post-processing is considered before I've taken a single shot. I understand what the limitations of the camera are and while I try to do as much as I can on location and in the camera, I have a good idea of what I'll need to do back at the computer. I used an ND filter to smooth out the waters and aligned the sun just left of the large point on the rock on the right.
Most landscape photos are with wide-angle lenses. This technique is often used to show-off the grand scale of a beautiful scene. By using foreground objects with a wide-angle lens you can make perception tricks, making small near objects look larger than massive far away one. I will normally do landscape images in this fashion, but yesterday I wanted to try something different.
It has been a few weeks since I made a concerted effort to go out and shoot. Lately I've spent a lot of time digitizing old photos and VHS tapes and the skies here have not been very exciting for awhile now. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to get out and take some photos. I headed out an hour before sunset and while driving to the west side of the island, I still had not decided where I wanted to go. As I was driving I was watching the skies and thinking what would be a good composition. As I approached Kadena Marina, I had an idea and decided to pull in and see how it would come together. I thought it might be interesting to do a telephoto shot of the island with the sunset in the background. Fortunately I arrived about 20 minutes before sunset and did some quick scouting to see what look I wanted. Of course one of the challenges of sunset shooting is you usually only get one, maybe two, compositions before the sun is gone so you need to be firm with what you want to go with before setting up because, you can't really decide as you capturing the moment that this isn't going to work and try other alternatives. This is also why we landscape photographers will go to a location over and over again because the light can be different every day and present new looks, and we can try those other compositions we considered but couldn't do with the 10-20 minutes one has with a sunset. As I was doing my scouting, I saw the upturned row boat out on the island and definitely decided to go with the telephoto route so I could clearly see the boat in the photo. I did take some wide-angle photos, and may post them some time, but I liked this look better for this day.
I had bypassed this photo during my first time going through the photos from this location last summer. Recently as I was doing a quick scull through my library I came across this photo again and decided to take another look at it. I worked on this in Lightroom enhancing the setting sun color in the sky and slightly increasing the exposure of the bird to stand out a little more. A little contrast and clarity and it was done.
Often times you can go out and get ready for a new idea for a photo. I wanted to get a sunset with the flower in the foreground. The original plan was to have a more wide-angle view, but even though it appeared we would get a nice sunset when I set out, when I got there it changed for the worst. The sky got hazy and clouds disappeared. I changed the plan and went for a more closeup look with the sun in the background. It's a different style from what I normally do, but it was fun to try something new.
Not a very imaginative title, but I really don't have much to say about this photo.
Some long exposure HDR.
I took this image from some timelapse sequence I made at this area. I really like how the clouds are soft but still defined. They have this sweeping look that accentuates the blues of the sky.
Sometimes to get the shots you want you have to take some risks with your equipment. The following photos are an example of this. I headed out to Kyodo Interchange area (see map), one of my favorite places for sunset to catch what looked to be a great sky for a sunset shoot this past Saturday. Once I arrived at the location, it turned out to be much windier and the sea rougher than I was expecting. That's not going to stop me though... I found the location I wanted to setup at and started shooting. One particular area on top of this rock outcropping I placed my tripod and camera right on the edge. The camera was getting sloshed pretty bad with the waves coming in, and I had to keep taking the water drops off my variable ND filter I had attached. Once I had what I wanted from this location I moved to a few other places and come home with several shots I was very happy with. Go ahead and check out the gallery above. All three of these photos are available for purchase as prints. Just select them and you will be taken to my prints website.