Working A Scene in Maine

posted by tucker

I haven’t posted for a bit… but It’s great to be in Maine again!

There are times, especially in Maine, when I really want to go shoot some HDR.  I head to a location that I have been to before and did some straight photography that I liked, such as Pemaquid Point. Ever since I began doing HDR work, I have wanted to return there and shoot from “Sunset Rock” or whatever it’s called, it’s “Sunset-something-cliché”.  As spectacular as Maine sunsets usually are, tonight there was not a cloud in the sky, making for a rather boring sunset. When there are clouds and spectacular colors, the sunset can be the main focus of the image, requiring little thought when you are shooting. I used to get discouraged at times like these, because the sunset itself is not captivating enough to be your subject. Instead of giving up, I have simply begun to explore further, trying to see if some combination of camera settings, focal points, unorthodox framings, and odd shooting positions can come together to turn the mundane into a blog-post-worthy HDR. When I got there, I began shooting at f/16 to exploit the low sun and attempt to get the most pronounced “light stars” that I could… that ended up just giving me massive, ugly lens flare that made the images unusable. I backed down to f/8, and fell back on one of the rudimentary lessons in composition, the so-called “rule of thirds.” In high school I was taught by a teacher who would give you no more than a B- if your image did not follow this rule, regardless of how good your photograph actually was. At the time I was annoyed, but I came to realize that things really do look better when they are off-center, and when you have a landscape it is almost impossible not to use this rule, in fact I think most people see it without knowing it, that it looks better to have either the sky or the foreground take up more of the composition. I shot some with this rule in mind, making the foreground loom large while the sky only took up the top 1/3 of the image… still not what I wanted. Not feeling discouraged yet, I trekked along the rocky shoreline across the slippery seaweed to see if I could get up on a rocky outcropping away from the spectators and the “usual” spot from which people view the sunset. After nearly dropping my camera, I was rewarded when I discovered the sun hitting a random red plant and decided to make use of my last resort, ultra-cliché depth of field. Backing down to f/3.2, I focused on the plant, popped my tripod as low as it would go, and took a ±4 stop, 5 shot bracket that resulted in the image below. I even followed my rule of thirds; France Dorman would have to give me at least a B for this one!

Don't yell at me for being cliché! It was all I could do to salvage the so-so sunset.

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