Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Advantages Of Insomnia In Photography

One of the advantages of waking up at 3:00 AM is that you're all set for sunrise photography. It could be said that another is getting blog entries up for people in the eastern US to have with their morning coffee. The former is cool, the later a little sketchy. Today's image is a result of the cool portion of the equation. Let's see, early morning, cool temperatures, warm(ish) water equals fog. Fog is a good thing for certain types of shots. Today's is one of those shots. About fifteen minutes after this image was made, if I stood in exactly the same spot and pointed the camera in the same direction, at the same height, we'd see the rock breakwater about fifty feet past the last boat. The shot would have been totally different and not anywhere near as interesting. Typically, with a "fog shot" you need a couple of elements. Something strong that attracts the eye, like the light/horn/object at the front of the lead boat. It could be a tree in the mist or a set of railroad tracks fading into the fog. Something to arrest the eye. Another element that makes this work is a splash of color. Here it's provided by the red of the second boat. The green grass leading up to that tree or brown of the railroad tie in the foreground might work just as well. In today's shot the red is pretty strong. The color element of the tree or track shots wouldn't have to be strong, just a hint of color would do fine. Fog shots are, for the most part, opportunistic shots. Sure, you can check the local forecast and increase the odds of there being fog (like when the local weather person says "there'll be fog in the morning"). But, having the right amount of fog, or being able to get the shot without distractions is a crapshoot at best. To find out more about today's image, hit the "read more".

Today's image was taken in mid July. We were visiting the Rockport/Cape Ann Massachusetts area and came upon a combination marina and motel. We tend to like the slightly offbeat rather than the cookie cutter accommodations of the brand names. It does lead to some vaguely suspicious haunts, but in general it's more Americana than hotels stamped out to serve the business traveler. Travelling on business I've probably stayed in a thousand of those. Travelling for pleasure gives us a chance to take advantage of "mom and pop" trying to eke out a living doing their best to make visitors feel welcome (okay, that's a wee bit of romanticizing, but you get the idea).

The only post processing done to today's image is cropping, bringing up the color in the reds just a little and putting on a vignette. Other than that it's pretty straight. You just have to be in the right place at the right time and have the weather gods work with you to get this type of shot. Doing your homework and maximizing the potential is something you should always do. As soon as the weather breaks and we either get a "January thaw" or spring arrives, start thinking about fog shots. Oh yeah, set the alarm clock if you don't tend to wake up the some ungodly hour of the morning.


Alex Grace said...

Nice! I can almost feel the crisp sea breeze...

Lenny Pienta said...

Hey Tom -

How are you? I hope you and Doris and doing well. Sorry to leave a message on your blog, but I didn't know your personal e-mail address. Shoot me an e-mail and let me know how you're doing.

Remember you had some interaction with my cousin about a year ago when he sent you a photography question? Well, he came upon a link that he wanted to share with you - thought you'd enjoy it. Probably nothing you don't already know, but he thought it was very interesting and thought of you.

If you're ever up in the area would love to get together with you for a lunch or dinner and catch up.

Take care,