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How I Got the Shot – Taming the Raging Seas

How I got the shot

‘How I Got the Shot’ is a new feature of my web presence. An increasing number of friends and followers are asking me that very same question so I thought it could be best to share my work mindset and accomplishments in an educational aspect too. What’s more I will also be offering each shot I highlight as a computer desktop image to those willing to support my work via Patreon. More about this later.

OK, so to this first instalment of ‘How I Got the Shot’ starts with this image I shot a couple of nights ago from the Seawall in the Sunabe region of Southern Okinawa Island, Japan. Of late I’ve been shooting a lot of imagery with my Canon EOS5DSr using a range of KANI Filters. Having only recently acquired the filters I’m seeing the World of imaging in a whole new light with amazing potential and complexities. Given a lot of my previous work was with Macro photography there was little, if any, use or requirement to employ the use of filters. Now that I tend to shoot a lot more wide angle landscapes filters are an invaluable asset.

I was turned on to the KANI Brand of filters by a buddy who had been shooting them for a while. I took a closer look and the simple fact of the matter is that I’m a man who likes quality workmanship. KANI use B270 grade German Schott glass in their construction, basically the same high quality glass that is used in the manufacture of leading edge optics. Yep, they may be a little on the expensive side, but as with anything in life you get what you pay for. Spending less at the outset doesn’t always save you money.

How I Got the Shot

How it looked normally…

Anyway, I digress. Of late the weather here in Okinawa has started to turn from the balmy, stifling heat of the Summer into the more manageable Autumn temperatures. Sea Breezes are making a return and as such the surface of the Ocean is once again starting to move, and move well. Surfers are once again beaming as bands of energy rise up and crash along the tropical shores. SCUBA Divers hang up their fins and crowd around myriad photo albums created this past summer resplendent with creatures and critters both familiar and those less so. Gone are the evenings with the predictable sunsets. And I find that awesome.

Long exposure photography is one of the most rewarding of fields open to the creative artist. It allows the shooter to create dreamy like imagery not just of an ocean, a river, waterfall or just about any predominantly liquid filled scene in an agitated state of motion. It permits the avid traveler to fill images with stars and wild constellations. In all of its permutations long exposure photography allows the shooter to turn an otherwise staid scene into an engaging and even hypnotic entity. On nights when the seas become agitated, you’ll see me heading for the door, expectant to seek out another obscure vision, playing and painting with light.

‘How I Got the Shot’
OK so the night in question I was at the Sunabe Seawall. I was looking to shoot the ocean and sunset given that the Ocean was pretty wild. Waves were crashing against the seawall and splashing up@ causing spray in a lot of areas. Planning is everything. In the military, all those moons ago, we had a saying “Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents a Piss Poor Performance” also known as the rule of 7 P’s. I stood back for a while, observing, looking for a segment of the wall with the least amount of spray. As the Tetra Blocks in this image are also designed to ‘break’ waves I thought that would be the best location to shoot from.

Setting up I was shooting just at the cusp of dusk. the light was falling off but not enough to get an extended exposure without the use of an ND Filter. I had my Irix 15mm f2,4 lens fitted, onto which I’d fitted the 95mm adapter ring so that I could use the KANI Filter Holder in place. Filter wise I was shooting straight into the light source so no point to use a polarising filter, plus given the time of day and ambient light, no point. Instead I’d elected to use a Soft Graduated 0.9 Neutral Density Filter in conjunction with a 10stop Solid Neutral Density 1000 Filter. I was looking to hit a long shutter.

Once I had the composition and focus nailed, I sorted the point of gradation for the Hard Grad filter and then finally introduced the ‘The Beast’, or at least that’s what I call the 10 Stop ND 1000 filter. At f8 and ISO1000 I was able to plug in my electronic shutter release and set a long exposure time of 300sec, or 5minutes if that simplifies things. One of the small ‘tricks’ I used was to also shift the White Balance matrix to adjust the colour bias towards a more sunset aesthetic lean towards Amber and Magenta. To find out how to set that, at least on a Canon DSLR, I recently penned this blog entry about that technique.

Editing wise I used Adobe Lightroom. Given that I’d accomplished 99% of the shot in the RAW file all that remained for me was to slightly boost the exposure. I also increased a little the de-haze slider to some 12% of the image and set clarity to around 10%. Now as weird as it also sounds I created two new ND Grads in Lightroom just to create more contrast between the Sea and the Sky. Other than that very little editing was added. Et Voila, something for you to head out and try.

In wrapping up I’d like to humbly ask those who enjoy my work to contemplate supporting my work via Patreon for as little as $1 a month. Perks include receiving this, and other, desktop imagery on a monthly basis. My work is, and remains, predominantly that of a wildlife cameraman. As a freelance entity I’m looking to do something next year that to date has never been done. What that is and what it entails is available as a discussion point to those who support and want to be a part of my work. Find out more by visiting my Patreon Profile.

Tip* If you want to see the cool detail in this shot simply hit that little opposing arrows Icon you see in the top right of this page. Enjoy.

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Emmy Award Winning wildlife cameraman and Internationally published landscape photographer Mark Thorpe has been an adventurer since he could walk! An ex-French Foreign Legionnaire and National Geographic underwater cameraman and field producer he's also been privy to a mixed bag of hair raising adventures. Currently based in Okinawa, Japan he's always on the lookout for that next big adventure, and for those who willing to support the same. He shares his adventures online with a totally organic social audience in excess of 230,000 followers. An audience garnered since his debut with Social Media in 2009. Mark is currently open to long term ambassadorship offers from corporate entities looking to add a dynamic content media marketing solution to their brand identity and social channels.

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