“The idea is that flowing water never goes stale so just keep on flowing” ~ Bruce Lee
My husband, Steve and I recently spent a few days shooting on the Central part of the Oregon Coast. During this trip I was immensely drawn into the rocky shelves that edge the ocean. This type of scene, whether large or intimate, depicts the nature of our rustic, natural beauty here on the Oregon Coast. What also drew me in were the huge winter walls of foam that the surf churns up and pushes forth to the shore. What a sight to see, and sit in, if you’re a tenacious photog like me! You will see what I mean at the end of this blog post. 🙂
Those of you out there that follow me know that I am finding value in turning my lens toward the smaller scenes in addition to my wide angle ones these days. I refer to my small coastal scenes as “sea intimacies”. And for the intimacies here, I chose to create a quiet, Zen like feel through the use of long exposures. I hope you enjoy!
Here, I offer up nine suggestions that I keep in mind while photographing our beautiful coastal scenery:
1. Let the light be your guide and…
2. Let the foreground be your other guide. When you arrive at a site stop and soak it in a bit. Check out the sky for the best light and clouds. Scan the area to determine where there may be cool foreground opportunities. If your’e going for an icon, by all means do so, but then branch out and investigate further to find your own unique compositions. Remember also that both light and foreground conditions are dynamic with the sea (think waves and floating kelp etc.). With this in mind, continue to monitor these variables in order to capture the most exciting scenarios.
3. Compose carefully. Take time. Be relentless. Sometimes we get eager to move around and get a lot of different shots while the light is good. This can result in several fair compositions and nothing that really stands out. Don’t settle. Try to really nail one and then move on if you have time. Conversely, when you’ve really dug in and worked an area and it’s just not happening, know when to move on. Also, as mentioned above, move on if the light has.
4. Use a vertical perspective with your wide angle lens to emphasize exquisite foreground detail. And, don’t underestimate your camera’s ability to pick up subtleties. In the vertical image below with water gushing over rocks toward the horizon, I paid careful attention to the minuscule details of each rock. It was important to choose the most colorful and interesting ones. Not only that, but I wanted them to point in the right direction in order to lead the viewer’s eye into the image. It took a lot more time to compose, but I believe it really paid off. When the light is great it’s easy to panic and quit too soon thinking you may get something better “over there”.
5. Consider large and small scenes to tell a fuller story. Even if you don’t want to shoot smaller scenes it is worthwhile to take the time to notice the smaller details of the environment you are shooting. This practice really increased my ability to make more interesting compositions because I began looking with intention and thus really seeing. Soon, I began noticing all sorts of things that I wanted to integrate into my foregrounds. Things that I had not previously noticed or considered. When foregrounds become visually compelling, images can become much more interesting.
6, Trust your intuition. Shoot what you find interesting or beautiful. Don’t worry about what others might think. This is your art. I subscribe to the notion that chances are if you are moved by what you see, then others will be as well.
7. Consider doing a collection such as I am doing with the sea intimacy collection below. I’ve titled it “Rock and Flow”. Folks enjoy buying and displaying images that they can put together to make a gallery on their home or business wall. I have sold several framed collections and each time my clients describe in their own way how they enjoy seeing the fullness of a story. It can also be emotionally and artistically satisfying to have “more space” to convey a message that is deeply important to us.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ~ Lao Tzu
8. Enjoy yourself and be kind to others out there. I really mean that. Try not to make getting a great shot your only goal. I know what it is like to want a shot so badly that I forget to consider what is really important. Take time to “see” and pay attention to others. This is especially true if you are with a friend or partner. No shot is worth being short or agitated with those we care about. We photographers can be very self- involved when we’re on sight shooting. Believe me, I know and have been on both the receiving and giving ends of this. If others are thoughtful toward us and vice versa we end up really scoring at the end of any shoot.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglia
9. Use the buddy system. The Oregon Coast is beautiful and it is exhilarating to shoot in wild conditions. But it is unpredictable and can be deadly dangerous as well. You must be keenly aware and careful of your surroundings at all times. Don’t take unnecessary risks and always use the buddy system when going to a secluded area. Look out for one another. No shot in the world is worth risking your safety.
Thank you to Steve who took this image! It was really a blast being surrounded by this huge wall of foam!
Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do to get the shot. Just remember, safety first!!! This was a very slow moving shelf of foam so it was not a risky situation at all. Just very cold!
Be safe, be kind, have fun and go with the flow! Thank you for taking the time here on my blog.
I always enjoy your comments! ~ Susan