Golden Song – Shell Beach, CA

Golden Song - Shell Beach, California, April 2011

I’m right on the shore, the waves of the incoming tide lapping against the legs of my tripod, sometimes making me step back to keep my feet dry. The sun is just setting off to the right, casting an orange warmth on the largest of the rocks. The sky is simple, but it’s smooth, the gentle color soothing, and the lines and details on the rocks are mesmerizing in their intricacy.

California is a beautiful place. Due to its population and popularity, it always always the most east access, but if you get there and get settled it’s really breathtaking. There’s so much to see and so little time to get it done before rush hour.

For Photographers. How it was made… Canon 5D MK2, 24mm TS-e II,  f11, ISO100, 41sec and 62sec.

I was on Shell Beach, down the steps right near Margo Dodd Park. Long exposure was the key to the simplicity here. I only made a few frames that evening. I set up as the light started to change and made sure I was secure on the tripod, then took my time analyzing the composition. I wanted the rocks to dominate, but to be complemented by the surrounding elements and by the light which went away just a few minutes after these were made.

I use the live view to focus manually, zooming fully into the details and getting precise. The 24 TE-e II is really sharp (I’ll add a detail crop below). I love it, but it’s no good if I’m not in focus. That done, I put on the B&W 110 ND filter and made my exposures. I used f11 for edge-to-edge detail, and it did pretty well. In retrospect, I might try f16 to give me just a little more in the corners.

In processing, I did a very subtle HDR. First, I applied the Super Gentle preset from PW3 and then added some tweaks to further enhance color and tone. I also did a little sharpening. Next, I went to PS, blending the 41 and 61 second exposures to give slightly differing details in the water and rocks from the slightly different exposures.

Finally, I did some precise detail work in PS using burn and dodge, placing particular attention to highlight dodging, lighting the highlights on the rocks and the flowing of the water.

A detail crop. The texture in the rocks is very solid from the 24mm. It's not large format film, but it comes off well.

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One Response to Golden Song – Shell Beach, CA

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for sharing how you captured this.

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