I had the chance to visit Ruby Beach on the Washington State coast this last week. As you can see from the photos, it was very cloudy. The cloudy skies are why this area, near Forks, WA of the Twilight series, is a favorite habitat for vampires with sparkly skin.
The clouds helped even out the early afternoon sun, and with the light less harsh, more pleasing exposures were possible. But the light at mid day is never as flattering or beautiful as evening light, and I’d like to come back here later in the day. Only problem is, this place is nearly three hours from where I live, so I’d be getting back home after midnight.
Since getting the Canon EOS 6D about a year ago, I’ve been able to include more foreground in photos with the EF 17-40mm f/4L lens. With the EOS 7D, it was like a 27mm lens, and mounting this lens on a full-frame body is like getting a whole new lens!
“Foreground interest” is an important concept in landscape photography. In order for the foreground and the far distant background to both be in focus, we need to use a smaller aperture opening. If I had been using a tripod, instead of hand holding this shot, f/16 would have been more appropriate.
With both a cloudy sky and the sun high overhead, these photos had very little color. In this photo, I used a Bi-Color Filter in NIK Color Efex Pro 4 to introduce color back into the sand and sky.
While the logical technician in me is checking shutter speeds and aperture settings, the artist in me is looking for a way to combine elements in the scene before me in a pleasing composition. The rock, column, and island form a sort of triangle to balance out the image.
While the horizon curves very little, such a wide angle causes the lines in the sand (made by water running back into the ocean) to run toward the center of the photo. It has more rocks – more going on in the photo – and I’d say it’s not quite as strong as the other photos above. This is a good illustration that sometimes simplifying your composition can make it stronger.
Here’s another vertical shot at 17mm which has both a sharp foreground and a distant horizon. It was processed in Lightroom and NIK Silver Efex Pro 2. This is another approach for photos with very little natural color: Instead of trying to increase the saturation or introduce artificial color, do a black and white and focus on texture rather than colors. The sand, pebbles, and driftwood all have different textures, and Silver Efex’ “structure” sliders help bring this out.