A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go looking for a new place to take pictures. Of course, there is always a new way to shoot an old location, but it's always a good for a landscape photographer to expand his bank of photo spots. This time, I chose Gala Yomitan. There are lots of great things to shoot there, but of the greatest interest to me was the rock pier, built in traditional Okinawan style. What interested me was its snake-like shape shape, which curved out into the ocean, where it ended in a platform. Since it's located on the west coast, the obvious time of day to shoot is around sunset.
However, unfortunately, as any photographer knows all too well, shooting into the setting sun presents some significant challenges, particular with respect to controlling the under-exposure of exposure shadows. The technique is to always "expose for the highlights," but the trick is to get the sky just hot enough that it the brightest parts push up against the high end of the camera's dynamic limits, without losing detail. About the only way to do this is to bracket your exposures, essentially taking the same shot many times, then choosing the best shot in post. The problem comes in when you try to capture moving elements like waves that show well up in some pictures but not others. In this case, I was trying to convey the windiness of the day by catching the wave as it broke over the pier. Very few of the exposures ended up with beautiful wave splashes and those that did were not always the best exposure. None the less, I was fortunate enough to come up with a few that I liked and of those, I picked this one.
Doesn't look like much, does it? Fortunately, I was shooting raw, as I always do, and I knew that the necessary underexposure of the foreground could be fixed in post. After importing to Lightroom, the first thing I did (after adjusting the white balance to taste) was to bring up the shadows all the way. That worked so well I almost didn't have to do anything else. The only other processing I did was to saturate the colours and use brush tools to bring out the right colour temperatures in the right parts of the sky. I also warmed up the pier in the same way to enhance the earth tones in the rocks. Here is the final result.
Some would say this is a little overdone. Others would say I need to process it more. Personally, my goal is to make photos look as beautiful as the real-life scene did to my eye (with perhaps a bit of enhancement in the colours and contrast). The only difference between the photo and what I saw is that the ocean is a bit more aqua and the sun is a bit more yellow. Otherwise, this is it.
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My simple blog about the art and science of photography.