‘There’s no such thing as bad light, only light that’s inappropriate for the subject you’re shooting’.
Increasingly I’ve found that I limit my photography to the edges of the day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is restrictive. Choosing the margins of the day for photography is largely because I have yet to figure out how to get the kind of pictures that I like in full sunlight without carrying around diffusers and other bits of gear. This doesn’t stop me from carrying a camera though. I’m particularly interested in what light works for what subjects.
I was pleasantly surprised that the reflections that I caught above we’re taken at noon on a bright sunny day. Something to store away for future reference. Naturally I’ll be back at this harbor, and others, on bright days looking for more of these reflections.
After spending time at Lucy Vincent Beach, other Martha’s Vineyard beaches pale by comparison. That’s not to say that there are interesting images to be had here. I decided to forgo the bandstand in Ocean Park and headed down to the beach. There were a couple of piles of rocks and old pilings at the waters edge that caught my attention. The image above was one of the more successful images.
Over Labor Day weekend I spent some time playing with my regular lens walk around lens, Canon’s 24-104, but using it at the wide angle setting. I know that wide angle lenses can cause distortion and have particularly noticed curved horizons as the a byproduct of working with the wide angle. Converging verticals and keystoning are also other hallmarks of a wide angle lens.
I’ve read all this in books but hadn’t really internalized it until I made this image:
Sort of annoying because I wanted to include a big open sky.
Keeping the sensor parrallel to the lighthouse resulted in this:
A little better. When I got this home I used the function within lightroom to correct for the lens used and got this image:
I looked at this for a while but couldn’t put my finger on what was the problem with it. Then it dawned on me. Correcting for lens distortion made the lighthouse ‘chunkier’ than it actually seems in real life. There’s a lesson for all of us in that – be careful with automatic settings. They work great the majority of the time but not always.
I finally decided on how I wanted the image to look and came up with this:
One of the things that I like about digital photography is how easy it is to try things out and get immediate feedback. I have heard people say that they are switching back to film because the constraints of using film force them to be more creative. For a while I almost bought that argument. I do believe that all innovation is a creative response to overcome a problem, obstacle or constraint. Why not instead of retreat to film use digital technology under a defined set of rules? The instantaneous feedback that digital offers can then be used to adapt, modify or improve upon what you’ve just done. This past labor day I was playing with my usual walkabout lens the Canon 24-104 but using it at the wide end of that range just to see what I would get. I had fun, answered some questions and ended up with the image above. If all my labors were like this they wouldn’t feel like labor!
Often when we are looking at the charts of both familiar and new sailing waters we see areas marked off as ‘fish traps’ – no go areas during particular times of the year. In our home waters of Narragansett Bay I have yet to see any evidence of the fish traps but nevertheless we stay well clear just in case. In the bays towards the end of Long Island however it’s a very different story. Nets strung out between poles like the one above are a common sight. I have yet to work out what kind of fish these nets are intended to catch or in fact to ever see anyone paying any amount of interest in them but they are a dominant sight just of the beach where we take the kids swimming. If you know more I’d be delighted to hear about it.
I would be the first to admit that I struggle to handle wide angle lenses. They cover a huge amount of real estate which makes it a challenge to control all the details within the frame. One of the things that I’ve consciously been working on with my rocks at the waters edge project is to use a wide angle for the majority of the images, just to force me to use it and get used to it. I naturally gravitate towards a longer lens that allows me to extract details from the whole, often resulting in an image that takes a moment to figure out what you’re looking at. This was the case for the image above. The larger fishing boats were at the dock in Scituate harbor and the yellow in the nets caught my eye.
There are few things that I enjoy more than poking around boatyards. I was lucky last fall to have a chance to spend some time on Martha’s Vineyard and to have an opportunity to visit the Gannon & Benjamin yard in Vineyard Haven. The shed that they started out using is still in use, although they now have a bigger building nearby. I hadn’t realized that these buildings are three sided so that they boat builder can roll the hull right side up when it’s complete. Poking around the shed there are all kinds of treasures that I can only imagine came from boats that were being refurbished and held onto in the hope that they could be useful in the future. This spinnaker pole perhaps falls into the same category. It was in a rack at the side of the shed, starting to show signs of being exposed to the elements.