A Sea of Contrast

California's legendary coastline offers no shortage of incredible seascape vistas to photograph. While I normally would look for colorful scenes, my time along the coast was plagued by bad weather and heavy rains. To carry that drama into the artwork, I used high contrast black and white adjustments, along with a strong vignette and bold blacks to create images that capture the emotions of that gloomy day.

Photographed with the Leica SL and Leica 24-90mm lens.


Quick Shot: Signs of Summer

It's June.... which means summer is here! Although its still cold and dreary here in England, that wasn't the case in Tel Aviv, where it's almost always in-season to wear shorts and a bathing suit! I took all of these photographs along the boardwalk that runs along the Tel Aviv coastline, and tonight I'm asking which of these photographs puts you in the summer feeling?

All shot with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit lens.

Quick Shot: Random Nature

I love some of the randomness that nature can offer us as photographers..... that's why I am always ready with my camera on, settings set, and lens cap off ready to strike at an opportunity when it's presented.

I went to the Hunstanton Cliffs and was walking in the sea surf and saw the late afternoon sun casting interesting light on the ripples in the sand and standing pools of water. The result was an interesting set of textures and designs. I knew the scene would translate into an interesting black and white photograph, and took this image with my Leica SL.

Quick Shot: Trees

Nothing too fancy, just a beautiful image of some pine trees lined up along the beach on Llanddwyn Island in Wales. I really liked the fence in the foreground and the fact that you could see parts of the beach through the trees. I actually took a few images with my digital Leica and my film camera before I settled on this being my favorite.

This is a film photograph taken with a Hasselblad 503CX on Ilford Delta 100 Pro film.

Quick Shot: Waves Crashing

I sometimes find landscape shots in the most unexpected places. In this case, I found this rocky beach in the coastal towns of Chinque Terre, Italy. We were walking through the brightly colored houses built into the cliff sides and came across this little beach where strong waves were pounding against the rocks. The waves were more intense than usual due to some heavy winds, which created all this drama as the water flew up from hitting the rocks.

Waves can be very thrilling to photograph because they are completely unexpected-- you can never guess what the next wave will bring you. So I put the camera into a slow shutter speed (1/2 second) and stabilized it against a metal pole. With every wave, I held the shutter to get a series of exposures capturing all the drama. I took about 50 of those shots, but these two were my favorite for the way the water was flying in the shot. 

Quick Shot: Three Ladies

One of the photos I wanted to get while at Assateague Island was that of a herd of horses together on the beach. Unfortunately, the horses never face the same direction (one will always turn around and show you his butt as soon as the others all turn to face you!). 

I decided to isolate a group of three female horses that were standing aside from the herd and focus on instead shooting them as a group. Luckily, they had their back to the ocean so I could really capture the story of wild horses standing on the beach. 

Even luckier, they were facing into the sun during sunset, which cast a soft warm light on their faces. 

I waited until the gesture was perfect and made only one click - that's all I needed. 


Quick Shot: Ponies of Assateague

It's been a few days since my last quick shot, but that's because I've been busy! I spent the weekend on Assateague Island, which is a long and uninhabited coastal island running through Maryland and Virginia. The island is most famous for the herds of wild horses and ponies that roam along it's beaches.  Equally famous are the marshes on Assateague, which are home to an abundance of birds and other wildlife.

The primary goal of this trip was to photograph wild ponies and birds. Like I normally do, I'd pre-visualized several photos I wanted to capture of these subjects (I'd never been there and used Google to research the wildlife extensively).  

One shot on my to-do list was a photograph detailing a pony's face. Ideally, I wanted to get the shot at sunrise or sunset, when the soft golden glow would cast the pony in a warm light.  

I had read online that the ponies often migrated to the beaches around sunset and would be inland during the day. Apparently the ponies read the same article I did; within hours of arriving on the island I found a herd of horses by the beach at sunset. Cha-ching!

I chose this pony for the face shot for several reasons:

1. He was facing into the sun, giving a nice cast of light on his face
2. I liked the white mark on his face
3. He was being a cooperative wild subject, which isn't something we get often as wildlife photographers!  

The ponies can be dangerous to humans if we get too close and the National Park Service gives every visitor a rather graphic flyer detailing the dangers of getting too close. That being said, I was sure to stay approximately 20 feet away and was mindful to never "box a horse into a corner" so as to not frighten them. 

Given the distance, it was a no-brainer to use the Nikon 80-400mm. I shot at f/8 to get a nice depth of field on his face and dialed in a -0.5 exposure compensation to ensure the camera didn't overexpose the areas in the sunlight.  

I did minor edits in Photoshop CS6 and ran a high pass filter over the nose fur to accentuate those details.  

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Quick Shot: Cave

I found myself in Malibu Beach last year for a few days and wanted to shoot the coastline. There was one particular area of Malibu Beach that I knew had some caves to explore when the tide was out. I grabbed the camera and wore some water shoes to get the shot! 

The cave photo proved to be a bit of a challenge. The waves would come up high enough to hit my mid-calf with every wave. At first I tried to run in and out between the waves to get the shot and minimize how wet I got (besides the shoes, I was dressed inappropriately as I'd just come from work). That didn't work - my timing was bad and I ended up with foot prints in the shot. After a bit of trial and error, I decided to just roll the pants up as high as they'd go and hope the dry cleaner wouldn't be too mad at me!

It worked - I got several shots, but selected this one. I liked the seagull in the background and it had nice detail in the cave shadow.  

Shot with the Nikon D7000 and edited with Adobe Photoshop. Black and White conversion done with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.