Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Story (of a photograph)

I just posted about the importance of knowing why you photograph, and in that post included an image. Someone wanted to know why I picked that particular photograph to be included with the article. What's the story that goes with that image that made me include it?
Sailboat Race - Oxnard, California
The photograph in question is Sailboat Race seen above. I captured that image just this last weekend in Oxnard, California.

There were probably 100 other people on the beach with a camera who could have created the same image. None did. I had to have photographic vision. I saw the final image in my mind before ever opening the shutter.

The combination of the clearing clouds and backlit scene caught my attention. This could have been a black-and-white image (it's almost duotone anyway), but I thought the color on the sailboats in the right half of the image provided a needed balance (or imbalance) to the white sailboats on the left.

I included five sailboats. Five is a good, strong number that has a certain uneasiness that creates natural drama. Three is a good number, too, but in this case, with three boats on the left (the middle boat is just left of center) and two on the right, just the right balance (or imbalance) is achieved to draw the viewer in.

It was a matter of finding the decisive moment of the scene.

The almost featureless sky (the features are subtle, anyway) gives a good amount of negative space for the photograph to breathe. If I had included more ocean and less sky the image would have seemed busier. Busy typically doesn't equal strong.

In post-processing I gave a cross-process effect to the photograph to increase the color interest.

Interestingly, a similar photograph, Three Sailboats, captured only about two minutes later, is not nearly as strong. It's not a bad image, but certainly it is the weaker of the two.
Three Sailboats - Oxnard, California
Photographic vision allowed me to create both images, but the top photograph had my creative mind working just a little harder and nature cooperated just slightly more. I was able to create an image that expresses what I wanted to express about that moment at the beach.

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