Clarity

Picking a photo of the month for July 2016 wasn’t easy – I didn’t have too many to choose from. Photographic possibilities in Southern California in summer are somewhat limited, and July seemed to be especially brutal this year, with too many days of clear blue skies and soaring temperatures.

Luckily, I made this photo about a week ago on a brief outing to La Jolla’s Windansea Beach (together with my friend T. M. Schultze). Luckily, because working on the photo and then letting it sit for a couple of days helped to let it grow on me. And it looks like my preference for evenly lit scenes on overcast days is waning a little bit, lately…

For those who are interested, I’m adding some background and technical notes below the photo.

Just before sunset at Windansea Beach, La Jolla, California. July 2016.
Just before sunset at Windansea Beach, La Jolla, California. July 2016. Click to open in my store to buy a print.

The funny thing is – while we were driving, Tracy mentioned that he couldn’t find his neutral density filter. And once we were there, I noticed that I had forgotten mine at home! So we were both without the possibility to slow down our exposure times, and blur the movement of the water.

Now I prefer to do just that because I find that the rather random and chaotic appearance of the ocean often adds too much clutter to an image. When frozen in motion by a short exposure time, gentle rolling waves turn into hard, jagged lines and rather erratic shapes, because the even movement and rhythm are missing from the photo.

So what to do? Simply waiting for sunset is one possibility of course. As the sun gets lower, it turns from the huge bright disk you see in my photo above into a small dot that has little influence on the overall exposure. Of course, stopping down the lens more (or a little bit too much, depending on how you look at it), lowering the ISO, adding a polarizer will slow down the exposure time as well. But why not try to work around it with what we have?

To begin with, I positioned the camera relatively low behind these rocks to eliminate the amount of open water in the frame. I also liked the play of light and shadow, but something was missing – the sense of motion, mentioned above. So I switched the camera to multiple exposure mode, and set it to use the maximum of nine possible frames to combine. I spaced out my nine individual exposures, manually releasing the shutter in intervals of about half a second to a second.

I really like the result, and I hope you do, too!

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All images and content © by Alexander S. Kunz, unless otherwise noted. No re-use without express written permission. Most images are available as prints and for commercial licensing. Please contact me with any questions. Prints and licensed images are NOT watermarked, of course.

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