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Gale season continues... (bandwidth hog post)

A forum to post any lighthouse pictures you'd like others to see. Feel free to talk about lighthouse photography. Lighthouse-related photos (such as LSS and lenses) are also welcome.

Postby Hersh » Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:07 pm


The forecast yesterday was calling for 10-15 footers in the SW Michigan area, so of course I took a half day off of work and went to the beach. I tried South Haven first, but the wind direction was wrong and the waves were pretty wimpy. When I made it back to St. Joe I saw that the action was quite a bit better. I ended up shooting for a couple hours in the usual wind and sand, with the added bonus of sleet.

Before I began for the day I saw something out on the pier I wanted to photograph. I think I'll title this shot, "The Moron". Ain't no fish worth dying for.


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 250, 1/320, F6.3





After watching the moron for a while I started off with the usual compositions in the usual locations, and I got some decent shots. The break in the clouds on the horizon gave me hope for a show at sunset time. (more on that later)


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 250, 1/320, F7.1




Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 250, 1/320, F6.3, -.33EV





Then I decided to try some different compositions using the dunegrasses. This was tricky photographically to get the exposure right to freeze the wave & still have sufficient depth of field. I couldn't get the grass perfectly in focus, but with the way it was moving in the wind, it probably wouldn't have been sharp anyway. This first one was the highest wave I saw all day. Very impressive.


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 500, 1/125, F11





My flock was resting down on the waterline, and I decided to just shoot them there instead of ordering them to the sky.


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 400, 1/100, F6.3, +.33EV





The Coast Guard 40 foot motor lifeboat headed out into the surf as I was shooting, but most likely not for a training exercise, they headed south and never came back. If it was a rescue, I hope it went well.

Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 400, 1/125, F6.3, +.33EV





As sunset drew closer I moved down to the beach and concentrated on the outer tower. With the lower light levels, I figured I'd get more contrast by silhouetting the waves in front of that band of orange sky.


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 400, 1/125, F5.3, +.67





And then the big event happened. The sun dipped down into that break in the clouds, and this happened.


Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 400, 1/60, F6.3





That beautiful, warm light hit the spray on the waves and made them glow. The waves were getting smaller and less frequent by this time, but I made the best of it and ended up getting some good shots.

Image
Geekphotostats : Nikon D70, 80-400mm VR, ISO 400, 1/60, F6.3


Sorry to eat up so much bandwidth on this post, but I had a lot of these that I wanted to share. Hope you enjoy them.
Mike Hershberger
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Postby Grover1 » Sat Nov 17, 2007 3:37 am


Mike ... I think you ran the table on this array ... from what we would almost now call the "traditional" to those last couple spectacular blues and purples ...

Techy (geek?) question ... the last stat on a couple of your shots ... EV ...
what and why ... how does it relate to the other settings (ISO and aperature)... why a negative setting on the first shot ... is it incremental in "batches of thirds" ... and is it a manual or automatic function of the Nikon?

Curious question ... the last three ... at what size do you think they would be best displayed?

Thanks much for sharing these ... I'm assuming this trip made up for the last trip?
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Postby Hersh » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:07 am


EV is exposure compensation. When shooting in any of the automatic or semi-automatic modes the camera uses it's meter to analyze the scene and set the aperture, shutter speed, or both, to make the photo look like the camera thinks it should look. And camera meters are calibrated to render a scene as 18% gray.

If the camera is not rendering the scene the way I think it really should look, I use the EV to add or subtract exposure in 1/3 stop increments. (I think Canons use quarter stops)

This is used in film cameras as well, but it takes a bit more experience to use it properly because you have to analyze the scene in your mind and anticipate how the camera will render the scene to make your adjustment.

As for display sizes of the last three, I think they'd look best sized 11x14 or larger. 8x10 I think would lose some of the details in the shots. I might try to print one of those last ones at 16x20 and see how it looks.

And finally, yes, it did make up for the last trip, though I certainly wouldn't call the last trip a waste.
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Postby TWolfe » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:49 am


Great shots. I especially love the last couple.
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Postby epona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:23 pm


Mike - I agree the last shots are super. What I like about them are the contracts their is both warmth and icy to them. The glowing feel of what is being shown vs the cool fall depth of the waves.

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Postby Grover1 » Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:44 pm


Mike ...

You are making manual adjustments in automatic modes?

... and flipping back to the first series of wave shots ... the ones where you met Dave and Rob ... why was the time of the exposure of the later shots constant while you were changing aperature and ISO settings?

... and which of the three variables ... time, aperature, or ISO, would have
the most effect on the outcome ... and did you try any where you kept one of the other variables constant ?

... and if you want to say ... "Barry, you should read your manual and do your own experimentation" I wouldn't argue ... that's just where I am heading ...
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Postby Hersh » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:13 pm


Read your manual Barry... :D Actually, making sense of this stuff just by scouring the manual can be like trying to read Shakespeare in a foreign language. I'm happy to offer my limited understanding to help out.

First off, yes, you can do manual adjustments in automatic or semi-automatic modes. The camera is a machine and machines can't think about the mood you want in your photo, or that you might be more concerned with preserving the fine detail in the waves instead of rendering the tone of the clouds properly. That's where you, the photographer, come in. You can use the meter to establish an exposure baseline and then tweak it based on what you want the photo to look like.

For your second question, you can set the camera to shutter priority, which allows you to set a fixed shutter speed, and the camera uses the meter to select the appropriate aperture for that speed. This is useful in wave photography where freezing motion (controlled by shutter speed) is more important than depth of field (controlled largely by aperture). As light levels go down on a night like that, I could keep the camera on shutter priority, but eventually there's not enough light to sustain that speed, so I have to move to a faster ISO. By increasing the ISO, the camera is able to select the appropriate aperture again.

For the third question, like I said above, the most important setting is determined by what you're trying to photograph. On that night, freezing the wave was most important, so as the evening wore on and the light got dimmer, the apertures got lower (wider) and the ISOs got higher (faster). Therefore there was no real reason to play with keeping the other settings fixed, I knew what I needed to do.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions. And if I make a mistake, I hope someone will step in and correct me.
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Postby Grover1 » Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:37 pm


I'm digesting, Mike ... thanks much!
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Postby Biggy » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:33 pm


Geat stuff there, Mike. How nice it must be to be able to go to St. Joe so frequently or whenever the wave action requires a visit. At least you are fortunate to be within an hour's drive. You probably go to St. Joe about as much as I go to Barnegat. Only at Barnegat, we might get the sunset but never those types of waves. Beautiful work with this batch.
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Postby Biggy » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:36 pm


Oh, yeah ... I almost forgot ... Barry, read your manual :!: :wink:
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Postby Hersh » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:45 pm


Have some rolaids handy Barry, there's a lot to chew on there. But trust me, if you go out and play with it on your camera a few times, it'll start to come together. I couldn't get a grip on it either, until a few trips with Gary showing me how to do it and explaining as if to a small child. Sometimes repeatedly.

Thanks to all who have commented on these, I'm glad you like them. David, it is indeed a blessing to be so close to St. Joe, it seems like there's always some nuance there for me to try and capture no matter how many times I visit. And having the forecasting tools and even webcams available on the web has made for fewer wasted trips.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:54 am


The last two, Mike, were certainly the "keepers" out of that batch of shots. The earlier images, as I'm sure you well know yourself, were pretty much run of the mill for a wave day at St Joe.

Those last two make up for the day I was out there shooting high contrast all afternoon and on into the evening when you were tied up with some sort of evening PBA function or whatever it was and couldn't make it to St Joe when I called to try to convince you to blow off what you "had" to do :!: Wish I had had the opportunity to be there for that shoot.

No offense to those who live in and love NJ, but the photographic opportunities here AREN'T what they are in the Great Lakes basin.

As for digesting what Mike said, Barry, it's pretty simple in reality and contrary to his comment, he's a lot quicker and brighter than a "small child." To really make any sense out of it though, you do have to go out with the camera and shoot until it does make sense. Leave the manual at home after you read it the night before you go out.

As for Barry's curious question #3 on size. For the next to the last image Mike posted, that would end up in my hands as a pano, probably 13x30 or something like that with the right side of the image cropped away to move the outer light from it's dead center location. I'd crop away everything to the right of where the big foreground wave loses sunset color highlights. The last one I'd print square, probably 11x11 or 16x16. I've had very good success selling 11x11 prints in a 16x20 frame that is bottom weighted with the top, left and right mat borders identical for whatever that's worth.
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Postby Hersh » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:45 am


You know Gary, the first thing I thought of when I saw the light hitting those waves was that very night you mentioned. I saw your photos in my head as I was shooting mine, as a matter of fact. I wish too that you could have been here for this set. (By the way, your memory might be a little foggy, but the wave height on that fourth shot is a ways beyond run of the mill. The detail is lacking due to the light, but the wave itself is very impressive.)

I like the idea of the square print and bottom weighted mat, I may just have to try that one. I'm sure Diane and Sheila would do up a great presentation. As for crops on those last two, it actually gave me some trouble, I don't know why. I intentionally shot them wider than I needed to so I could play with crops later, which I'm glad of, but narrowing down my choices was tough. Maybe as I play with different crops I'll post them on here for opinions.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sun Nov 18, 2007 1:50 pm


Mike, if you go the bottom weighted mat with a square print, have Diane and Sheila cut it for you out of 8 ply gallery white. The 8 ply presentation looks a whole lot more impressive than a 4 ply when done that way.

As for my memory getting foggy, I don't think so. I'll post a couple of goodies for you that keep the memory fresh. My comment was pertaining to the quality of the waves but rather the quality of the light which leads to interesting, but sadly, not terribly salable photos.

The stuff I shot a couple of years ago that was used in the special that aired on the History Channel in Nov 2005 was matted and framed that way and sold well out of my gallery.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sun Nov 18, 2007 2:24 pm


OK, first one -- bad timing on when the hole in the clouds opened up behind us and "spotlighted" the inner light but not the plume from that wave slamming into the end of the pier. You were there that day, Hersh and might have a similar shot of this same wave.

Image

A little better contrast on a wave that was pounding St Joe in Nov 2005 not too long before I left Michigan.

Image

Finally, not as impressive of a wave to be certain but the even light in the middle of a strong snow squall that periodically gave me some white out conditions that day gave wonderful detail in the spray!

Image

...and last... one that I happen to like

Image

Yep, it's sorta grainy looking... that's a snow squall that had me in whiteout conditions about 5 min before this was shot and within about 5 min after this was shot, I couldn't see my feet again :!: If you look at where the color of the water more or less changes color, that's the edge of the whiteout snow headed back toward me. In case you're wondering why all the gulls are circling, they're waiting for the waves to toss dinner in the air. They were plucking fish right out of the air that day. Pretty darned smart :!:
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