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Archive 2012 · The wave, a picture story
  
 
ben egbert
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p.1 #1 · The wave, a picture story


I have been staying at the Fireside Inn in Yachats Oregon since 1984 and have never missed a year. The wave featured below can be seen from our room, and I started trying to capture it from the start. First with a Nikon FE, and through all my cameras ending up with a 1DS-mk3.

Never had one worth beans until this one 2 years ago. I have attempted to duplicate this shot the last two years with no success. It took a combination of high tide, wind to provide the background surf, cloud shapes, light, and the splash shape that blends with the clouds to get this.

This image is sort of flat as shot, see the sooc. But in the end, it is one of my 3-4 best shots in 30 years or so. It was a fluke and could not be repeated. Rusty should be happy with the transformation I was willing to apply in post processing. I think it is honest, but also pretty different than the raw. Still this is a single image and 90% done in ACR.

The point of this story is that luck plays a large part in getting an image. Not that this is great, but that it represents one of my best during 30 years worth of work. And I have taken a lot of images. This scene lasted for all of a few microseconds and then was gone, and is pretty unique.

I took this in burst mode so I have several images that are fractional seconds before and after this image. While the light and other aspects are there, the wave shape is not as attractive. The image just before this one had no splash at all and I am not showing it. The first is my favorite. The second image was so close to the first that it has the same time stamp but I did not like it as well. The third is from the following year and is typical for this scene.

Story aside, the first is how I have it worked up. I am going to include a sooc for you folks to play with. How can I improve it further, ignore my style, apply yours. Any other criticism is fine with me.





The wave 2010

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/5.0    1/200s    100 ISO    -0.3 EV  






Second image, same time stamp as first

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/5.0    1/160s    100 ISO    -0.3 EV  






Same spot 2011, and typical for here.

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E17mm f/4L lens    17mm    f/8.0    1/250s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  







SOOC of first image




Sep 08, 2012 at 01:51 PM
sadja
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p.1 #2 · The wave, a picture story








My main criticisim is that the composition is more centered than it needs to be. Decentering makes a composition feel more dynamic. If I had been there I probably would have framed the scene a bit differently, but since I wasn't, I offer the crop above. I also tried to tone down the bright areas.

BTW, I think your 1st version is just fine. I only offer mine as part of a dialog, not to suggest that anything is wrong.

Persistence is the trademark of a landscapist. It might take you another 30 yrs (or visits) to find the same or better light.



Sep 08, 2012 at 03:58 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #3 · The wave, a picture story


Hey Ben,

I used to go out to Sunset Cliffs in San Diego probably 2 or 3 times a week for months on end. I would arrive 2 hours before sunset and stay till an hour after. Lord only knows how many of these kinds of shots I would watch & wait on studying the surf/break to try and capture everything from the powerful surge, to the illuminated misty spray to the gentle milky flow as the water returned to where it came. Always aspiring for the perfect amount of illumination and interesting, but not overpowering background lighting, etc. I could sit out there for hours ... into the night at times, just watching and envisioning how to capture what I had in my minds eye ... as mesmerizing as the "Call of the Siren"

FE, trusty tripod and chrome film always ready for an evening at the "Cliffs" ... but for me it was more about watching and thinking because my budget only allowed for about two rolls of film a week (young sailor).

WARNING: Geek engineer alert ahead.
I find it interesting to notice the difference in the "split second" between the two time stamps. The first one has not yet reached full spray and it feels more "raw power" (potential energy) to me, while the second one feels more "peak action" (kinetic energy). Not that either is better or worse than the other ... but just to observe your point @ variables beyond our control (i.e. partial luck as we prepare to make our own to the degree possible).

Getting "on topic" ... it is good to see you "stretch" yourself, but do so only as it fits you. My main point @ all this has been that even as a "purist" with chrome ... the "film of choice" profile would have dictated how the colors (sat/hue/contrast/gamma) would render. In that I could have just as easily chosen to shoot Ektachrome vs. Fujichrome for my style & taste ... you too have the preferential options to choose your processing profile to your style & taste. Putting your style and taste in the digital realm is no different than choosing to load your FE with one film or the other. Digital RAW has just been intentionally designed to yield a FLAT/LINEAR file ... so that we can (intended) APPLY the profile of our choosing @ processing the capture.

To that end ... I'm only "happy" to see you being "unbridled" by the purist myth @ "sooc is the end of the story" ... even if you do desire to present your style as neutral, faithful, accurate (all good) rather than dynamic (which may require a modicum of judiciousness). In the end, you will have to be true to yourself, for that is all that really matters ... no matter how you go about achieving it.


Edited on Sep 08, 2012 at 04:46 PM · View previous versions



Sep 08, 2012 at 04:14 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #4 · The wave, a picture story


sadja wrote:
http://sadja.smugmug.com/photos/i-CHmHj7T/0/X3/i-CHmHj7T-X3.jpg

My main criticisim is that the composition is more centered than it needs to be. Decentering makes a composition feel more dynamic. If I had been there I probably would have framed the scene a bit differently, but since I wasn't, I offer the crop above. I also tried to tone down the bright areas.

BTW, I think your 1st version is just fine. I only offer mine as part of a dialog, not to suggest that anything is wrong.

Persistence is the trademark of a landscapist. It might take you another 30 yrs (or visits) to find the same or better
...Show more


Hi Sadja. Yes, my printed version is cropped. The framing was dictated by the lens and where it was possible to stand. My 2011 was 17mm, a lens I did not have in 2010 which was with a 24. Not much worth adding in the foreground so I shot it with the plan to crop.

Like your version, my printed version is darker than the one shown here, and I have worked up one a lot more dramatic using tricks I have learned in the last few weeks. I always find I can do more stuff each year and each new Photoshop release.



Sep 08, 2012 at 04:21 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #5 · The wave, a picture story


RustyBug wrote:
Hey Ben,

I used to go out to Sunset Cliffs in San Diego probably 2 or 3 times a week for months on end. I would arrive 2 hours before sunset and stay till an hour after. Lord only knows how many of these kinds of shots I would watch & wait on studying the surf/break to try and capture everything from the powerful surge, to the illuminated misty spray to the gentle milky flow as the water returned to where it came. Always aspiring for the perfect amount of illumination and interesting, but not overpowering background lighting, etc. I could
...Show more


After 30 years of doing Oregon, sometimes 2 per year, I have little to show for it. Among my keepers I count 5-6. I just never got the hang of it, and I really love the ocean. I am a big rocks crashing waves guy and did not spend much time with beaches and tide pools. I tried the last two years but still could not get the hang of it. Some of my new favorites are of my grand daughters, but I don't show family stuff.

I found myself returning to the same places attempting to get a better version of a previous one. I have seen some great shots taken at places I have been to dozens of times and never got out the camera.

Now I live too far away to drive my old car and probably won't get back.



Sep 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #6 · The wave, a picture story


Needs more work ... but chores are calling for now.






Edited on Sep 08, 2012 at 10:29 PM · View previous versions



Sep 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #7 · The wave, a picture story


Thanks Rusty, turns late afternoon into dusk, very dramatic rendering.

A note on timing here. You need this to be near high tide to get the splash and to get the tide pool in front filled. This is not always as late in the day as desired.

On minus tides, I walk out into this place to see the star fish on the rocks.



Sep 08, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #8 · The wave, a picture story


Rusty's version is a tad too dramatic for my taste but I do like the separation of spray and sky. That separation always seems hard for me.


Sep 08, 2012 at 06:10 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #9 · The wave, a picture story


Camperjim wrote:
Rusty's version is a tad too dramatic for my taste but I do like the separation of spray and sky. That separation always seems hard for me.



This is the one I printed, a bit darker and with more spray separation. I can never repeat my gradients from one time to the next.

I do recall it took me several attempts to fix the washed out sky where the latest effort was much easier.





Printed version

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/5.0    1/200s    100 ISO    -0.3 EV  




Sep 08, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #10 · The wave, a picture story


This last version is great. I would be inclined to crop a tad off the left and bottom so the image was less centered but even as is I really like the comp and leading lines.


Sep 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
 

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sbeme
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p.1 #11 · The wave, a picture story


First of all, beautiful captures and fine job on the processing.
Second, I think we can all relate to the amount of patience necessary to have so much come together so right. Being prepared, mapping the right time of day, location, previsualizing the scene, having the skill to select among the many clinkers and the better images to chose the best, having the ability to process these images well and crop successfully all are necessary and have come together so well here. I wish I had that much patience.
I doubt your keeper rate is that different from others attempting this capture.
There is so much to enjoy in these captures. Of course the stop action of the breaking wave and spray is great. But the clouds meet the spray above, and like much of the rocks, seem to angle in from the sides to insist that you are brought to full attention. Once the eye pulls away from the action and the gestalt there are plenty of smaller scenes to enjoy, taking in the textures of the rocks, the color play of rock, sky, algae, water and reflections. A great scene!
Congratulations! One of these every 4-5 years would do me well!
Have you printed this one large?
Scott



Sep 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #12 · The wave, a picture story


Camperjim wrote:
This last version is great. I would be inclined to crop a tad off the left and bottom so the image was less centered but even as is I really like the comp and leading lines.


Hi Jim, I always forget to crop before posting. My printed version is cropped a bit, although probably not as much as required.

This image has a natural x with the wave right at the center of it. I want to preserve that feature as well as some of the top clouds. Cropping to a good off center looses too much. That's why I used a 17 mm last year.

So far as I know a well leveled lens almost always produces a centered horizon. Of course you can rotate left right, but not up down. I always depend on cropping for that.

Yes this version is on my wall.


Edited on Sep 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM · View previous versions



Sep 08, 2012 at 07:47 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #13 · The wave, a picture story


sbeme wrote:
First of all, beautiful captures and fine job on the processing.
Second, I think we can all relate to the amount of patience necessary to have so much come together so right. Being prepared, mapping the right time of day, location, previsualizing the scene, having the skill to select among the many clinkers and the better images to chose the best, having the ability to process these images well and crop successfully all are necessary and have come together so well here. I wish I had that much patience.
I doubt your keeper rate is that different from others attempting this
...Show more

Thanks Scott. You are correct about how often we get these and often my keepers are real accidents. This was not so much an accident, but was unexpected for sure. I almost passed it by when looking at the raw. I thought the blown sky was a killer. Not really blown, just at the edge of it.

I sometimes think I need to save gussied up jpgs just to get some idea of potential. The raws are so bland as to make you pass them by.

Here is a jazzed up version where I used content aware fill (Aunti just taught me this last week) to fill in some of the bland sky, and I also used some more Topaz on this to accentuate the clouds and surf.







Filled in sky, more Topaz

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens    24mm    f/5.0    1/200s    100 ISO    -0.3 EV  




Sep 08, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Oregon Gal
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p.1 #14 · The wave, a picture story


Love the image and agree with the above comments. For me the overblown highlights are distracting but reading that you have already pulled back the highlights on the printed version I see nothing wrong with the image except I wish I would get clouds like this when I shoot the coast Excellent capture.







Sep 08, 2012 at 08:19 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #15 · The wave, a picture story


That crop works. I keep hating to lose the top of that top dark one, but it really helps the upper left side.

You did some other things I like too, nice job. I guess my favorite of my own is still the printed version, but I like this better.



Sep 08, 2012 at 08:51 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #16 · The wave, a picture story


Diggin' it (printed version)
+1 @ Barbara's version also.

Beats the livin' daylights outa that sooc stuff.
Good stuff ... as is easily attested by everyone else' comments.


ben egbert wrote:
I almost passed it by when looking at the raw.

Been there, done that.

I sometimes think I need to save gussied up jpgs just to get some idea of potential. The raws are so bland as to make you pass them by.
I typically shoot RAW + jpg (small). But, even without a jpg to sneak a peak @ ... push/pull on the gamma to see the "reveal" (kinda like push/pull @ saturation). You can make your decisions from there as to how much S&P you want to flavor it with ... and which parts need more S than P to get them where you want them.



Sep 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #17 · The wave, a picture story


Hi Rusty. When I first took this I was pretty inexperienced with gradient masks. Compared to the folks here I still am. I passed by a lot of shots for that reason. But now with more experience and CS6, I go back and redo my favorites and also check out some I almost liked but did not know how to rescue.

One thing this post is telling me is that the darker version works better with the sky cropped out. I did a fresh go at it for this post and ended up with too much highlight recovery and less drama as a result.

I am at the moment preparing a set of icon shots for my webpage. A sort of guide to the places I have experience with. I plan to post some here for further tweaking.

This image is not what I consider an Icon, its a place I found on my own. But it sort of fits what I am attempting to do.



Sep 08, 2012 at 09:50 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #18 · The wave, a picture story


As I've mentioned before, my primary issue is composition. Placing the horizon on the center line is static. Placing the subject of interest in the center is also static. The old saw, "dead center is deadly" has real merit. Sure, sometimes it works well to defy aesthetic convention, but most of the time convention exists for a reason.












Sep 08, 2012 at 10:03 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #19 · The wave, a picture story


ben egbert wrote:
The framing was dictated by the lens and where it was possible to stand.


Actually, where you were put limits on how much you could include, but it in no way forced you to center the subject in the frame. Turning the camera a little to the left and pointing it a bit more up or down and/or crouching to shooting from a lower angle would have changed the composition to a less static centered one. Cropping is after the fact composition. 'Tis safer to visualize the final composition and then include some extra to fine tune.

Good rules of thumb for a landscape or any other image: Put the horizon somewhere other than center-frame. Put the subject of primary interest somewhere other than the center of the frame unless you have a special reason for centering it.



Sep 08, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Oregon Gal
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p.1 #20 · The wave, a picture story


Ben, I used ColorEfex4 to give added punch. I used Detail Extractor, Neutral Density and Levels n Curves in ColorEfex4. I also did several adjustment layers, saturation, selective color, levels adjustment for the bright highlights which were selected by using the quick selection tool, vibrance, exposure, curves and highlights n shadows. The image has lots of possibilities.

Thanks for the compliment on the processing, most of my skills, which are still a work in progress, have been learned on this forum by other gracious and very talented photographers who are always willing to help out a fellow photographer.

Barbara



Sep 08, 2012 at 10:58 PM
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