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Archive 2012 · Beach Shots
Ryan Walton
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Beach Shots

Here are a few shots I took at the beach actually last year sometime. I just stumbled upon them and decided to see if I could make them work. I know the last one I got a little crazy with but it looked bland and boring. Any C&C is appreciated! I believe that I took all of these with a Sigma 50 1.4.
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Feb 15, 2012 at 01:10 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Beach Shots

The strongly angled shots are certainly different and a bit dizzying. The more I view them as abstracts and less anchored in expectations, the more I like them.
The tones in the first are beautiful. I get a bit hung up in the brightness of the upper left corner.
Second seems classic, done right, expect possibly in need of a tad of horizon correction.
Third is by far my favorite. Again, horizon correction needed. I am hoping the rotation doesnt cause you to lose what you have on the left. To me, what makes this shot, besides the choice of BW, is the beautiful bright reflected water shape on the sand, funneling the eye to the foreground elements which repeat some soft triangular themes.

Feb 15, 2012 at 12:02 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Beach Shots

The lighting on #1 and pattern in the sand leading to the surf and the contrasting textures tend to get lost due to the tilting gimmick. For example here's an edit where I straightened it and played the fan-shaped V created by the tide trying pulling the sand and shell back into the sea off the top corners of the frame...


#2 Works nicely as a "bookend" symmetrical composition, but when creating those make sure the horizon is level. They are also more interesting for the viewer if there is something between the bookends, people walking towards the sea or facing the camera heading home. As with tilting the photo when I see other than normal looking contrast or tonal range in a shot I ask whether or not it makes the photo any more interesting or compelling than a well crafted full range shot would. Here it doesn't for me.

In #3 you have another tilted horizon, not 30-40 making it look intentional, but 3 just enough to make it look like a careless oversight. In person there would be bright blinding specular reflections coming off the water but the muted underexposed highlights in your shot don't evoke that same feeling. One way to make the highlights seem more brilliant is to make everything else darker by comparison. Below I cropped to straighten an adjusted the tonal range and selectively sharpened.


#4 - The interplay of contrasting warm and cool colors is appealing in this one but as in the first I don't find the tilting adds any value to the message.

Feb 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Ryan Walton
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Beach Shots

Thanks for the input! I admit that horizon correction always seems to slip my mind unless it is way off and extremely noticable. I will admit I did not even think about the horizon being tilted in the first one I was just trying to divide the picture into thirds with the two objects.

cgardner what values did you use for the sharpening in the last picture on your re edit? I like the look of that and it does draw my eye quicker.

Feb 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Beach Shots

Ryan Walton wrote:
cgardner what values did you use for the sharpening in the last picture on your re edit? I like the look of that and it does draw my eye quicker.

It was a combination of adjusting the highlight until they were clipping in the brightest parts of the foam, then duplicating the layer, applying 500, .3. 0 USM then selectively blending it into the original with a mask.

Contrast is the dynamic that moves the eye around in a photo. It comes in many forms: tone, color, relative sharpness, relative size... Used in combination you can guide the viewer around the frame like a trail of bread crumbs.

A new twist on the old trick of throwing your eyes out of focus to better see what contrasts and leads eye in a photo is to apply an overall gaussian blur to the point of making it an abstract...


Where is your eye draw to in that blurred version? When your main focal point is at that spot the viewer will be pulled to it by the contrast and will keep getting pulled back by the contrast if it wanders off.

In your shot the contrast if the bigger bright area on top trumps the contrasting sharpness down at the bottom. If you had waited for someone to walk down the beach to that spot you'd have something more interesting in that area or max. tonal attraction.

There are many other factors to consider, but if you start by identifying what contrasts the most tonally in the frame you can then evaluate how everything else relates to it. When you can frame a shot where there is interesting content in the area of greatest contrast it's like shining the spotlight on the star on stage.


Feb 16, 2012 at 01:05 AM

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