Last week I wrote about a trip I made to the coast to do some coastal photography. There was a problem though – I forgot my filters, which were pretty essential for the image I was trying to create.
Now, some one once advised me to only ever show your successful images, and don’t show the failures… I can understand why, but I don’t agree. I took an image, where all of the basics are there, but it doesn’t work. I think being able to critically review an image like that is really important, and identifying why it doesn’t work is how you transition from a lucky photographer, to a skilled one.
So here’s the image:
Can you see what I was trying to achieve? Using the hard rocks (placed on the lower third cross-section in a fairly classic rule of thirds composition) to juxtapose with the softened water to create an image with a sense of calm serenity – literally a rock to focus on in the swirling chaos around. Some nice gentle pastel colours and you have a classic, but stunning image, perfect for the wall of a bedroom.
My image above does not achieve this, but that’s ok because I know why; without my filters, I was unable to get the long exposures I needed to really soften the water into a soft cloud. You can see too much detail in the incoming waves which distracts from the rocks and breaks the effect. I Also didn’t have a polariser – critical for working with wet surfaces really – and so the rocks have highlights full of glare, making them much brighter than I really want. The composition is also not quite perfect – the couple of rocks that are cut in half at the bottom are a distraction, and with a little more time spent on my position, I could have excluded them (I knew the image wasn’t going to work anyway, so this became more of a test shoot than anything else). The final, and really most critical issue with this image, is the sky. Welcome to boring city, population: you. There isn’t much I can do about this of course, the sky is what it is. I was hoping for more cloud cover to capture the colour of the sunset behind me (I was on the East coast and so won’t see a true sunset), or some big, dark brooding clouds full of menace, but alas, the sky was clear with just a little haze out to sea.
Thing is though, without the right conditions, I spent more time scouting the place out so that when I return this week (with my filters) I will know where to go and how to set up. I just have to hope for more interesting weather.