The Other Side

From the Other Side
This is a tale of futility. A tale of ignoring hard data and still going after the shot. I happened across this rock formation sometime last year (this is probably the best shot of it from it's south facing side) and have been desperately trying to come up with an interesting way to shoot it. I've tried to force different looks on it, all to bad ends. Having only been able to shoot it from the south facing side due to tide issues, I had deluded myself into thinking the other side was the money shot. What I wanted was to shoot this with some sunset perfectly framed in it. So like any good landscape photographer I Google Earthed the approximate location, and this is what Google Earth had to show:

Google Earth: Not Looking Good
So as we can see my spot is the middle of a cove with two heads to the north and south of it. The window of my formation faces north/south, and as any good Boy Scout knows, the sun sets in the west. And, to make matters more difficult, there's an island (really an oversized rock) that pretty much blocks out most everything to the west of this formation. Things are looking pretty bad to get the shot I want, but I'm not discouraged. Next I load up The Photographer’s Ephemeris (it tells you the path of sunrise and set, along with moonrise and set) to see what it has to tell me:

TPE: Not Gonna Happen
The main line we're interested in here is the orange one. I have now conveniently forgotten Pewetole Island (rock) that is plainly shown in the path of line of sunset. I have convinced myself if I get to the other northern side of this formation then hug up against to shoreline I just might make this geometry problem work. So at this point I've ignored all the data that says it won't work and have visions of glorious sunsets framed in my rock formation in my head. It was going to be gorgeous! Then I checked the tidal chart because I knew I would need a low tide to get to the northern side of this formation. On this day super low tide and sunset coincided! It was a sign, and I eagerly packed up for my adventure.

As the shot that I did end up taking shows, I didn't get my glorious sunset. Granted this was shot about 30 minutes before sunset, but bigger and bigger waves were crashing and though I knew low tide hadn't hit it's zenith yet, the very rocky field that is usually submerged wasn't something I wanted to navigate in near darkness. Also, if I had just taken a minute to look at the map data I would have seen that the shot in my head has a shot of happening (from the south side) in June of this year. Too bad it's looking like the tides won't be in my favor.

About the shot itself. It is, if you didn't guess, a seven shot HDR, processed with Photomatix Pro, and a range of +Topaz Labs  products. I've been experimenting with the order I do things, so for this shot I processed each bracket through InFocus for capture sharpening and DeNoise (in that order) before running them through Photomatix. My thinking was in sharpening the brackets before HDRing I might get a sharper and less noisy final image, even if Photomatix does try to minimize shake. The brackets were shot on a tripod, with image stabilization turned off, so that should have helped also. After doing some retouch work in Aperture with a spot that I can't seem to get off my sensor or lens, and fixing white balance, I went back to Topaz Labs and Clarity to bring the rock alive with targeted contrast  enhancement. I then finished the shot off with some work in Detail

Comments

  1. Great story and I think many can relate to it. My planned shots often don't go as planned and that makes perfect sense because I don't put nearly this much effort into the planning as you did for this shot. So instead I rely heavily on the serendipitous outcomes. It's often the 'and then this happened...' moments that become the real story for me. But best of all, even when it's a total fail, I still find I love the shooting because it gets me out there to begin with, seeing the sunset or night sky in mid-summer at a truly dark area.

    Some say golf is 'a good walk ruined.' I see a parallel but photography never seems to spoil the fun for me. It just keeps me going out there.

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