Behind the shot: Rodeo Beach

I thought I’d share a photo from this past week. This isn’t as much “how I took the shot” (though I’ll touch on that too), as the planning that went into the shot. (Doing research for when and where to shoot is one of my favorite evening activities…)

About 6 weeks ago I went down to Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Took a few shots, but really I was just exploring areas I could reach after work. The tide was low (in this picture, it would have barely touched the back of the rocks) and the sun was still much further north (to the right) in the sky.  I played with some compositions, wanting to include the sun, and I wasn’t crazy about any of them (with the sun further north I had to move to my far to my left here, and I lost separation between the rocks – they were all one big blob).

I went home and with the help of TPE and tide charts, I was able to see what the conditions had been on that night (i.e. what was the tide then) and then researched when the sun would be far enough south at sunset AND the water would be further up around the rocks.

Mon-Thurs this past week looked pretty good so I planned to head out on Monday with another day as back-up (or just extra fun). I was very lucky to have the sky cooperate on Monday and have the conditions come together.  There are still a lot more possibilities on this beach and this was just the one composition and mix of conditions that came together in my mind.

For the shot itself, camera was on a tripod, remote trigger, wide-ish lens (22mm) and small aperture. I needed a small aperture for both the depth of field with the rock in the foreground, but also to get the starburst.  I also moved the camera into position to get the sun setting between that crack in the rocks. I had a graduated neutral density filter to help balance the sky with the foreground, though I still had slight clipping on both ends of my histogram, but it was manageable (and when shooting at the sun, it’s hard not to have the histogram go off the right side if the sun is in the photo).

Edited in LR. Highlights down, overall exposure up, white and black points adjusted, and a touch of clarity.  Then to PS to remove some water spots.

Other tips: Regardless of your filter needs, I always have something covering your lens from sea spray. Also, bring a microfiber cloth/towel and wipe your filter regularly.

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