Self-Critique: Black Sand, Rocks, Waves, Long Exposure

Bonita Cove, Marin Headlands, CA

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted a self-critique.  This is not to say any of my other photographs are close to perfect, but this one really bothered me.

We had taken a trip to the Marin Headlands for a day of photography.  Since I have been here numerous times in the past, the standard shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, or the San Francisco skyline just wouldn’t do!  We even made to the re-opening weekend of the Point Bonita Lighthouse bridge and I shot exactly zero shots of the lighthouse.  Unless there is something significantly special or different, I would have to find new compositions.

While perched above the cliff at Battery Rathbone-McIndoe, I had 3 shots up the coastline towards Kirby Cove and the Bridge, including one long exposure, that might turn into a decent B&W conversion.  But looking straight down the cliff onto the beach was this interesting sight: a black sand beach, white surf, and the strangely green water of the bay.  Since I had already used the 10-stop neutral density filter (ND110) on a previous shot, I had to unscrew the filter, recompose, focus, switch to manual focus, and gingerly screw the filter back on.

So what’s the problem?  Composition.

I thought I had estimated how far up the beach the waves would reach.  I estimated incorrectly.  Even after I had taken 2 exposures, I couldn’t quite tell.  I was only after I was home and looking at the photographs in post that I noticed that I should have pulled back the composition just a tad.  I had focused in too much.  In my mind’s eye, I had hope for an almost equal proportion of green, white, and black with maybe just a tad less black.

So while the wave action over the rocks through long exposure and sharpness of the photograph were spot on, the composition was not.

This just gets me that much closer to purchasing Lee FK Foundation Kit, Graduated 4×6 filters, and a 10-stop ND filter.  It would be so much easier to slide the ND110 up, compose, slide filter down, and shoot.  Plus, I do need to start using graduated filters anyways.  Also, if I do eventually pick up a Tamron 18-270mm,  it is a 62mm filter thread so all of my current filters won’t fit.  Argh.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, patterned metering mode, 200mm, ISO 100, 20 sec, f/11

Black Sand, Rocks, Waves, Long Exposure.  Battery Rathbone-McIndoe, Marin Headlands, California. April 15, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Self-Critique: Black Sand, Rocks, Waves, Long Exposure

    1. I agree. I definitely didn’t have enough black though I’m guessing having 33% of each might be a bit much (at least for the black). Maybe 40% (water), 40% (white surf), 20% (black sand) might be closer to the proportions I was hoping for. I’m going to have to find another chance to re-shoot this and play with the proportions! 🙂

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