Anatomy of a photo #13: Sunlit waves

Sunlit waves at Dillon Beach

This image highlights the importance of being willing to head out for pictures no matter what the weather… or even because of bad weather. I took this picture during a break in a storm at a nearby beach. The day was crappy, the light was blah, but often on these sorts of days you can get a break in the clouds that can add some interesting effects. This was one of those days. A shaft of sunlight came down from the sun as it was lowering in the sky, hitting the backs of these waves.

I made sure my shutter speed was fast enough to mostly freeze the waves (there is a little blurring of some of the spray, which helps to add a little bit of movement to the image). The exposure was set to give the spray on the backs of the waves a nice golden glow, without overexposing them (something that would be easy to do with everything else in the picture being a little bit on the darker side). I had my camera on manual exposure settings to do this, but it also could have been done with a cameras exposure compensation values, putting them into the negative by about two-thirds of a stop.

For lenses I used a 70-200mm, zoomed out to 104mm. I wanted good detail on the waves, but to show enough background to give the waves a sense of place. I’ve taken many pictures zoomed in on waves and showing just the wave, but after a while these get a little boring without having a wider context or something else of interest in them. The medium focal length also increases the depth of field more than what the 200mm would have given, making the background more in focus. If I had been zoomed in closer, everything farther from the rock and waves would have been more blurred out, losing some of that sense of location.

I think that is most of the nitty gritty. Enjoy.

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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