How to photograph sandy beach?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Worker 11811, May 13, 2013.

  1. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I spend a lot of time at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA, shooting pictures on the beach. I get some good shots but find it hard to get really good pictures when everything is the same color or value.

    I try to use light and shadow to show texture or detail but, when everything is sandy gray, it's hard to make a subject stand out.

    [​IMG]Fish-Kebab by Randy Stankey, on Flickr

    Here, the fish is brownish gray. The sand is mostly gray. The branch is steely gray.
    I've tried shooting scenes like this before, using different exposures or waiting for the light to change but I never seem to find the right combination to make things stand out.

    I wonder if there is a filter, a different developing technique or some other strategy I could use to make a merely "good" puncture better.

    Does anybody have any hints?
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Try a green or red filter, and play with selective focus.
     
  3. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Also an orange or light orange or light green if the red and green are too much. Remember that the filter closest in hue to your subject will render that hue "lighter" in your print.

    I tend to use the "light" versions of the filters more often and tweak the contrast where needed with filtration on multigrade paper but it all boils down to personal tastes.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I think lighting is the real issue. Shoot during sunset or sunrise with the light raking across the sand. You'll get a dramatic texture. Lighting is everything.
     
  5. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    shoot things that are back-lit or side-lit, not front lit.
     
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    It was shot about 30 min. before sunset. Facing in a southerly direction. Sun was behind and to the right of the camera. Pretty low in the sky.

    Used Legacy/Fuji 400. Developed in Diafine. Regular agitation instead instead of the usual "gentle" method.

    I have a red filter that I use for enhancing the sky. I'll experiment with that. Next time I go to the toy store I'll look at some yellow and orange filters.

    I try to experiment with the light. It's something you've just got to practice at.
    When you're outside, you can't just move the sun a little lower and to the right. :wink:
     
  7. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  8. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    I agree with the lighting angle suggestion - but I really like the shot that you've posted.

    I wonder if the sand might be more apparent if you use a finer grained film, so it's easier to distinguish the graininess (a real word?) of the sand from the graininess of the neg/print?

    Just a thought!
     
  9. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    The challenge in a lot of beach shots is the reflective nature of many sands.

    I have seen old exposure tables warning me to class scenes on sandy beach or snow with one stop more EV than good old sunny 16.
     
  10. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Filter wise, think of same color to brighten the object you are interested in, and opposite to darken it.

    You describe the sand as greyish - well fiter against that and all you get in neutral density.
     
  11. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I think of the beach as a big empty outdoor photo studio where you can do whatever your imagination wants. You could bring a reflector if you need additional light and it's not windy.

    Perhaps your photo is poor because it's weak in lines, composition, areas of light and dark. The Edward Weston photo linked had all that in a big way. Perhaps you need some shapes like putting the fish on a round dark plate that contrasts with the fish and sand, or set the fish on a dark rock or a bowie knife or someone's cleavage or tired worn hands. Wet the sand to make it dark.
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Option 1: restrict focus and depth of field to object you wish as the central anchor; employ a tilt/shift lens to create a narrow focus 'peg' with shallow depth of field
    Option 2: use colour film that will differentiate tones and colours
    When everything comes up as grey, grey, grey, then is the time for a shift in thinking: subject, "anchor", colour film, maybe even cross-processed for effect.
     
  13. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Maybe it's not your kind of thing, but I often like colour film for this sort of thing.

    I had to look at your image for a bit before realising what it was. It's a nice photo, very nice in my opinion, and maybe this particular one suits B&W rather than colour. I do think that often though, scenes of nature deserve colour film, so much of the beauty and drama comes from the colour. If you're 100% into B&W though, far be it from me to discourage you.
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Create Contrast!

    Same rule applies as everywhere else. If you want contrast in your negatives and the contrast is low in the scene, you must create it, and the only way to do that is to underexpose your film and then over-develop it.

    If there are no real black values in the scene, you will push the darkest values that DO exist, further toward normal shadow values by under-exposing.

    Then you stretch the tonality of the scene by over-developing, so that your mid-tone contrast doesn't suck, and your highlight intensity isn't weak.

    ----

    But then again, you may wish to focus on conveying the light that is there in a manner that is truthful to the scene, which could be equally effective.
     
  15. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I took a second look at the image you are not pleased with and thought it would be helpful to see one that you like as well. Some times the place or time influences a shot and viewing it at another time you wonder why you ever took it to begin with. To me the one you are showing just doesn't work (I've got plenty of those too especially being somewhere I won't be able to return to - hey, it's just film). IMO the dark area at the top is not necessary and could be cropped, the fish and sand beside being of similar tone are very similar in texture and the light stick coming to the lower right corner is distracting. The sand could be lighter in printing with less exposure and contrast and burning the fish with more contrast than the sand to make it stand out and crop so the vertical branch doesn't show.

    My approach when finding a subject of interest would be to photograph it from different angles and use appropriate filters as well as no filter and perhaps with different lenses. If possible, spend time pre-visualizing what the finished print will look like. Once you have thoroughly covered your subject you can pick and choose the negatives best represent what you saw.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  16. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I made some test shots with different filters.
    Test1NF.jpg Test1R2.jpg Test2NF.jpg Test2Y2.jpg
    Same roll of film: Legacy 400 + Diafine.
    Same location but, unfortunately couldn't do them all on the same day. They were done at the same time of day, though.
    Scanned them all from the negative using batch scan with same settings.
    Imported to Photoshop with same settings. No post processing except cropping and labeling.

    Seems like the results are much as you guys predicted. Similar effect between Y2 and R2.
    I think I like the red a little better.

    When it comes down to the end, I guess I'll have to size up the subject matter and decide what filter to use based on its color.
    Probably should get a green filter while I'm at it, eh?
     
  17. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Even a slight change in composition can make a big difference.
     

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