During my recent vacation to Hawaii, I was intent on taking a photograph that I imagined in my head. I woke up early and headed towards the beach. I wanted a sunrise image over the famous Diamond Head volcano with a nice sweep of beach in the foreground. The problem was, it was overcast with some rain. The clouds were numerous and did not let the sun peek through. And while the weather did clear, the clouds disappeared so it made the scene less exciting. As with the case with landscapes, you really have to be lucky to have nature work in your favor. I was so busy looking for the shot I wanted to take, I didn’t look backwards to see if there were any other great, unplanned images in the making. The first image is my best attempt at matching my “vision” in my head. The the lack of clouds and the non-existent sun rays made for a nice but less dramatic image.
I happened to look backwards towards the west. There, I found the clouds I was looking for. While it didn’t have Diamond Head, it had a different kind of beauty. My desire to get a particular image hardened my mind to other possibilities. I learned that, while its good to have an idea for an image, its good to remain flexible to the possibilities. If I had looked around earlier, those nice clouds would have been even larger.
I must try harder to remain flexible and look around for different images.
My Thought Process
Image 1: I wanted to capture the curve of the beach and Diamond Head, off-center in the distance. I wanted a slow shutter speed to show some blurred movement of the water. I normally try to keep the horizon line at the bottom or top 1/3 of the frame. However, by trying to have the curve of the water meet the bottom right corner, I ended up with this framing. Even though the horizon line is almost dead center, I think there is a balance here.
Image 2: I zoomed in a bit to get rid of the hotels on the right side of the frame. I wanted to leave some of the palm trees to have that tropical feel but I mainly wanted to showcase the water and clouds. I also wanted to have the water line hit roughly in the corner, the left corner in this case.
The images were taken with a Canon 7D with the Sigma 10-20mm lens. All Images were taken as 18MP JPEGs. These are HDR images. I wanted to capture a color range that even a single RAW could not achieve. I kept the HDR processing light to give a natural feel.
As with all my HDRs, I used Photomatix to create the HDR. Additional post processing in Apple’s Aperture 3 program included some sharpening. The saturation on the HDR image was increased after the Pixelmator layer blending.
I usually shoot my landscapes with my 10-20mm lens at f13 however, the aperture was greatly reduced for these images to slow down the shutter speed. A neutral density filter would have helped in this case. Something that I did not have at the time.
Image 1: f18, 3 exposures, -2, 0, +2 exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 10mm
Image 2: f22, 3 exposures, -2, 0, +2 exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 15mm