Series: Behind the Photo

Sometimes you take a photo and you know, as soon as you take it, that you have a winner. You can see it on the back of the camera, you get a big smile on your face and when you turn on your computer, you confirm what you knew all along... You caught the big fish that day.  You hit the jackpot. You struck gold.  You bought the farm... wait, what?  When you share it with others, everyone says "wow, that's a great photo," and you say in your head, "yeah, I know."  For me an example of that was this photo:

When I took this shot, I knew the composition was just what I was hoping for. The light was awesome and the wind had died down so the water was perfectly glassy.  I knew I was going to like this image.

But this blog isn't about those kind of photos.  This blog is about one that I didn't feel as good about, but boy has the reaction been positive.  Today's post is about this image:

Last week I met up with my friend, teacher and mentor, Serge Ramelli to shoot some photos. He wanted to get a tour of the Lucasfilm offices and I wanted to suck all of his photography knowledge from him, so the day worked out well for both of us.  Serge was looking to get some unique photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and I knew exactly where to take him.  This was the day after the "storm of the decade" here, so the clouds were looking pretty amazing and there was an electricity in the air... I knew it would be a good day.  We headed over to Baker Beach. Not my favorite beach in SF for sure, but one that has some great views of the bridge. When you're taking photos in iconic locations, try to not just take the typical postcard shot that everybody has taken a million times.  Drive around, walk around... heck you can crawl if you want to, but move around to find a unique shot that's more ownable to you.  Nobody wants to see the same shot they've seen a tons of other times. Anyway, we found our spots and I immediately I started wondering "what's Serge doing," "where's he going," "what setting is he using."  Then, I stopped talking to myself and started shooting.  I love this bridge so much and knew I was getting some good shots. I was really interested to see the difference in the shots we were taking.  I can tell you, he got some great ones, but I think I held my own. Serge is an amazing photographer and does tons of great training online.  Check him out here. He has a style and a way of teaching that is really easy to understand and I'm sure you'll learn a lot.  Plus, he's French, so he has a cool accent.

Anyway, I got some great photos that day and a few that I was really proud of and eager to share.  This one i wasn't loving.  The sky was kinda blah, the water was kinda blah... it was just kinda blah.  Then, using Nik Silver Efx Pro I make it black and white and that's when I started digging it.  It was just working.  The contrast in the water made for a more exciting shot, the water on the rocks, the way the sky started to pop... I really liked it.  I then decided I wanted to see what other people thought, so I posted it on both 500px and Pixoto and it's turned out to be my most popular photo yet.

I hope you like it. The photo was taken at 1/15 of a sec. I played with a bunch of different speeds for this photo, but ended up here as I like the way the water was still clear, but a little soft.  I didn't want the water too sharp, as that looked too harsh for me.  I tried the water much softer, but the ocean was so rough after the storm, that a longer shutter speed just looked like a big cloudy mess.  I was at f/22 since I wanted good depth of field throughout the image and I shot at ISO 100 so there would be little noise and I could keep my shutter speed where I wanted it.

I hope you like it.  Let me know by commenting below.  The only thing better than taking photos is hearing from others and talking about them! :-)

Happy Holidays!