Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Adventure and Image Release, "Ambient Lemmings"

This is my new image entitled, "Ambient Lemmings" and was captured this past Sunday morning (October12) just as the sun was rising in Ventura, CA...
It is very difficult to call this place a beach with so many cobbles strewn all over the place, but I guess there is some sand here and there. It is quite the long and laborious hike across these big and small cobblestones to get to this point from the closest parking lot by the county fairgrounds, but is worth the effort in so many ways. 

Saturday night, the girlfriend, me, and the dog all stayed the evening in a hotel by the Ventura pier. I woke up about two hours before sunrise, and me and my trusty muse, The Dude, made our way to this spot, one that I have been scouting for the right conditions for about 6 months now. This composition needs a high tide, and on Sunday morning there was a substantial high tide. And the weather patterns looked good the night before for a little bit of an eddy to hang overhead to provide me with cloud cover, but in dealing with so many fluid conditions at the beach, you just never know sometimes how much the weather (especially the clouds) will cooperate, until the sun rises and the scene is illuminated. Dealing with the weather directly at the coast is like the saying from Forest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get."  However, on this morning, I lucked out and ma-nature rewarded me and all my efforts with some nice breaks in the marine layer to give the sky in the composition some character and color...and the ambient lighting was absolutely glowing for me.

The waves were BIG on this morning, and the tide was coming in just as I wanted and planned. Surfers were starting to arrive in droves to play on the big waves, so a longer shutter speed was going to be necessary to "erase" them from my captures images. To get this composition, I had to set up right at the line of the high tide where the waves were crashing into the cobbles. I really worked at anchoring my tripod in deep in the cobblestones, taking about 15 minutes of disgruntled bitching and moaning until I finally got it situated right to my satisfaction. So the main reason why I shot with my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and 80-200mm f2.8 lenses was so I had the option to change my focal length without having to move my tripod and go though anchoring it in the cobblestones again.

But the waves were large enough to move even the bigger sized cobbles, and many of my long exposure compositions ended up being blurred and ruined because the camera moved ever so slightly during the exposure time resulting from the endless battering of the huge waves on the rocks. The rocks would shift under the pressure from a wave and move and the camera would move a little as well...and jiffy-presto, what you get is a double image in the exposure which creates an ugly blur whose only remedy is the delete button.

And of course, one of the risks of shooting beside the sea when it is rough is getting bitten by the fury of the ocean. About an hour after sunset, I took a direct hit shooting up the beach at 150mm as one extremely huge wave broke right on the shoreline behind me and barrelled over top of me, soaking me and all of my camera setup...which is a pain in the ass to clean-up at the beach because of all the salt and sand in the water. Salt and sand will scratch filters and lenses, especially after it dries. Salt will also cake up buttons and camera controls. I was using four stacked filters and water got in between each of them along with a direct hit to the camera body of my Nikon D800. Not something I like to happen, but unfortunately is inevitable when shooting in the waves so I must always be prepared to handle the situation when it happens.

The Pacific's sea water was very warm this time of year (for us here on the left coast) , but the air was cold and windy. I was really chilled from being damp and cold and could not really accurately clean my equipment the way I need to with my hands shaking so much. The boardshorts I was wearing were doing their job of keeping dampness off of me, but the evil criminal was my salt-water soaked cotton, I had to discard the shirt and put on the thermalite windbreaker I keep in my camera bag for just this sort of occasion. Aaahhh, warmth again. About 20 minutes later, I did manage to get all of my filters and camera clean so that I could continue shooting some more, but I went through every single dry microfiber cloth I had in my bag.

For those of you worried about the Dude, no worries, for he was safely up the embankment of cobblestones about 8 feet above me out of the reach of the waves where he found a nice flat cozy spot that he could curl up in and chill while I did my artist thing...and in fact, I think he was laughing at me after I got mangled by that one bastard of a big wave.

Back to the actual composition: I really like all of the different colors and shapes of these cobblestones, and the fact they all appear to be headed into the ocean one after another just like lemmings going for a morning swim all lit up exquisitely by the ambient light under the marine layer (hence the title).

Another cool thing in the photo (something that will make more of a noticeable mark when this image is printed large): if you look in the background at the horizon on the left side, you will be able to spot some balanced rock stacks creating various shapes (with the shape of the cross column being the most prominent)...a local homeless man created a small city of these stacks at the far north end of Ventura Beach just beyond the city limits, it is very impressive and worth the look-see if you are in this area anytime over the next couple weeks...I helped the man out with some money for his efforts with the hoped intent that he would use it to get a warm breakfast on this beautiful morning.

Camera settings:  ISO-100, 70mm at f/16 for 222 seconds using one Lee 3.0ND ProGlass filter and one .75ND Soft Grad resin filter to bring down the sky exposure even with the cobbles...

I hope you enjoy my efforts here to capture this nice new seascape image.


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