Short Photography Excursions by Ron Cardinale

For a lot of us, one big way we work on our pho­tog­ra­phy skills is by mak­ing short excur­sions that may be only a few hours long or even less. These brief sojourns can help us refine our craft. There’s a famous say­ing that luck favors the pre­pared. I’ve got some favorite loca­tions, which have changed over the years. Being famil­iar with them at var­i­ous times of the day, var­i­ous times of the year, and with dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions is really help­ful. Some­times, these prac­tice shots have had a drama that wasn’t in my mind when I left the house. This pic­ture resulted from both pre­pared­ness and luck. (The loca­tion is in Fos­ter City which isn’t too far south of San Francisco.)

Image by Ron Cardinale

Image by Ron Cardinale

I’ve walked the shore of this lagoon many times. On this morn­ing, a storm was approach­ing from the Pacific. I had an idea of what to expect so I had my wide angle zoom with me and used it at 12mm for this shot. The luck part of it was being there at the right time to catch these dra­matic clouds with unusu­ally still water. I’d taken a few other shots around the lagoon that morn­ing but I like this one the best because the clouds and their reflec­tion appear to con­verge directly across the lagoon. Despite the calm con­di­tions on the ground, the clouds were mov­ing along so I didn’t have a lot of time. The con­verg­ing pat­tern was van­ish­ing and I could see that the clouds that were mov­ing in weren’t as dra­matic as these.

One issue with such a wide angle lens when shoot­ing a scene with bright clouds is that the lens sees a lot of those clouds so the camera’s meter very often reduces the expo­sure and the shot ends-up too dark. In pre­vi­ous shots, I had increased the expo­sure but that caused the loss of too much high­light detail in the clouds. The clouds are a key part of the image so it was impor­tant to hold detail in them. For this shot, I used the camera’s nor­mal meter­ing. The expo­sure was 1/500 at f/8 with ISO 100.  The result­ing image was dark but it held details in the clouds except right were the sun was.

I made some adjust­ments later at the com­puter. I made a quasi HDR photo from dif­fer­ent pro­cess­ings of the sin­gle raw image and also made a curves adjust­ment. A real HDR image sequence wasn’t fea­si­ble in this sit­u­a­tion because the clouds were mov­ing and the water wasn’t com­pletely still.   Have fun and keep shoot­ing!
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