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Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Dance On The Beach

Focus on the fundamentals to make great strides in your photography

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In contrast to the final seagull image (previous page), Neill started out with a broader and more typical view of the beach and arch formation that emphasized the sky colors. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L USM, 8 sec. at ƒ/27, ISO 100
The tip I'd like to focus on today is the willingness to push oneself creatively. This has been a key trait for me as I try to grow as an artist. I often see photographers giving up too soon, or not moving from one spot, or only trying a few variations. Photography is a dance of possibilities! Experiment with everything from camera and light angles to shutter speeds to lens choice, and have fun with the process. The risks taken will result in many failures, but they also will lead to new ideas and creative breakthroughs.

On a recent trip to the coast, I was eager to photograph a local state beach at sunrise rather than the classic sunset hour. I got out there in the near darkness of dawn. It was a beautiful morning, with warm glowing light, crashing waves, and birds calling and scurrying to feed along the surf line. I was moving constantly, trying different options, focal lengths or foregrounds, and playing with blurring the waves. I was especially intrigued with a natural arch formation, so my compositional arrangements centered on the arch and surf. I was having a great time when a flock of seagulls landed right in front of my viewfinder. At first, I was frustrated with them "blocking" my view and wanted to chase them off. But then I decided to incorporate them. I experimented with various shutter speeds, hoping to have gull impressions "painted" onto the beach. The resulting image shown here pulls together my vision. A few small tweaks in postprocessing emphasize the mood of misty light backlit by the early-morning sun with the ghostly birds like a dream.

Soon the gulls were gone, the good light passed, and I was famished, ready for breakfast after a joyful, two-hour dance at the beach. Some things never change.

To learn about William Neill's Yosemite workshops, iTunes app, ebooks (William Neill's Yosemite, Meditations in Monochrome, Impressions of Light and Landscapes of the Spirit) and online courses with BetterPhoto.com or visit his PhotoBlog, go to www.williamneill.com.


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