There is no better excuse for getting out out on the water than under the guise of shooting some personal work.

00... Way way too early!!!!

Loading the truck at 03:00... Way way too early!!!!

Chris at the helm.  Thank GOD for coffee!!!

Chris at the helm. Thank GOD for coffee!!!

Today, I decided to get out into Boston Harbor in search of some new possibilities for my portfolio. We launched the boat in Hingham Harbor at 04:00 and ran the 8 miles out to the Graves in the dark. The water was perfectly smooth and the ride was great fun.

I wasn’t exactly sure of the image I was after, but I had some idea as I had been out to the lighthouse two days prior scouting. My objective for the day was to come back with two basic images. First, I wanted to shoot some cool panoramics incorporating the sunrise and the lighthouse. Secondly, I was after an industrial image inside the harbor by the airport. I will talk about that image in another post.

Shooting the lighthouse

Shooting the lighthouse

It took us about 35 minutes to launch the boat and make the trip out to the lighthouse where we shut off the engine and drifted with the tide until the sun started to develop.

I think there are three images worth noting from the shoot out at the Graves, a color motion image, and two panoramics.

First with the motion shot… The point I want to make about this image, and it is one of the ten key elements I speak about in my lectures is “don’t be afraid of motion.”

Nothing would have happend with out Chris.

Nothing would have happend with out Chris.

In a situation like this one, where you simply don’t have enough light to shoot a nice crisp shot, don’t think that you cant be productive because you can. When shooting commercial jobs youre always running against time, and time is money. Often, expensive equipment or personnel such as a heliocopter or models are standing around and you need to come back with the goods. You may have had tech problems and lost the evening light, or maybe had flight delays or suffered from lost baggage. No matter what the excuse, you cant go to your client and say, “sorry, I dont have any images from the shoot…. but here is my bill anyway.” They just wont listen, and moreover, you wont work for them again. It is our responsibility as professionals to come back with the goods. Thats what we get paid to do. So it helps to embrace all your options.

Here are three shots that illustrate what I am talking about. Each of these images were used for a job, and were shot on the spur of the moment only using ambient light.

The shot below was shot using the D3 with an ISO of 3200, at a 10th at f2.8. It was REALLY dark when it was taken. Once the sky started to get moody, I grabbed the camera, upped the ISO, braced the camera body on the gunwale, and began snapping. Of course the shot is not crisp and in focus, but the funky mood, contrast and color tend to play nicely. Who cares if an image is a bit blurry! Sometimes it is worth taking the risk and snapping away.

Funky Graves

Don't be afraid of motion!

The second two shots made that I liked were these two panoramics. Both have very nice smokey golden color, and really reproduce the peaceful calm of that morning.

The panoramics I shot were cut from full frame images shot on the D3. The issue of cropping has been debated over and over with some finding fault in assaulting the frame, and others cheering on the scissors and feeling free to make any size images out of any format.

The Graves Lighthouse

The Graves Lighthouse

My personal feeling is this: I tend to believe that when working within a format (e.g. 35mm, or 4×5, or X-Pan,) one should be true to that format and not crop. Last month when I taught at the DINFOS workshop, we got into an interesting debate with me arguing against the practice, and some of the staff making good points as to why it is OK.

Waiting for the sun

Waiting for the sun

Currently, its VERY expensive to shoot digital panoramics. I have been looking into cameras such as the Seitz D3, but for now I am forced to either shoot film, or shoot with my DLSRs. So this is my modified thought on the subject….

Crusing back to Boston

Crusing back to Boston

I sort of have this make-believe switch in my head, I can turn it to black and white, I can turn it to color, to a square, or to a panoramic. I make sure that I throw the mental switch when I am shooting because it actually helps me make a better picture. If the shots are going to be BW, I honestly see BW through the viewfinder. I concentrate on the contrast and the light much more than I do when the color switch is on because then, I am paying more attention to the color pallet. The same goes for the panoramic switch. I feel that if I shoot the photograph when the panoramic switch was in the “on” position, than I go ahead and crop. If it wasnt “on,” then I tend to beat myself up and call myself a cheater. Of course there are always exceptions, and I am not going to lie and say that I have never made a panoramic or forced a crop from an image that I only saw after it was processed, but that is my general rule.

After we finished out at the lighthouse, we beat feet and made our way towards the inner harbor to do some industrial shooting which I will talk about in another post. I think I will call it “Anatomy of an industrial image.”

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