Friday, May 1, 2015

A Closer Look: Red Chairs

Red Chairs - Cambria, California - 3/22/2015 at 9:25 AM
Nikon D3300, ISO 125, f11, 1/125, Nikkor 40mm AF-S DX f/2.8G Micro.
Back in March I took my wife on a weekend getaway to California's beautiful central coast. We stayed at a hotel across the road from the beach in the quaint town of Cambria. We also spent some time at Morro Bay and San Simeon (and a couple of other places).

I've been waiting to post-process my photographs. What I've found is that if I let the files sit for a month or two, I do a much better job of self-editing (which is a nice way of saying that I'm better at recognizing and deleting my poorly executed exposures). Enough time has passed, so recently I began going through the images that I captured on that trip.

Red Chairs, which is at the top of this post, is one photograph that I was really looking forward to seeing. In my mind I thought this would be a good image when I captured it. After not seeing it for a month I wasn't sure if I'd still like it, but looking at it with fresh eyes I still think it's a good photograph.

These red chairs were found at the hotel we spent the night at. They're for guests to relax and take in the ocean view without having to cross the street and climb down some steps. My wife and I had just finished enjoying our breakfast in the two left-most chairs. I was struck by the red chairs against the green grass and brush (which is color contrast). Having my camera with me, I took a few steps back behind the chairs and exposed the frame you see above.

It was an overcast day, and I think that I prefer the grey sky over a blue sky for this scene. Grey is more neutral, blends into the scene better and is more calming (which is what's needed to balance what's going on below the sky). Blue would have been a slight distraction. The clouds also helped to diffuse the light a little.

I like the compositional balance--lot's of negative space at the top of the frame vs. the bright and busy bottom. You can see the ocean but it's more of a glimpse. The sea looks calm but the brush has a "wave" design. Lots of parallel lines. It all gives the image a certain feeling.

What you can't see is just as important as what you can see. You can't see the parking lot just to the left of the frame. You can't see the people just beyond the brush. You can't see the family that walked by as I was getting ready to snap this. What's excluded is just as important as what's included because photography is often about subtraction.

For post-processing I opened the RAW file in Alien Skin's Exposure 7 software. I selected the Kodak Ektachrome 100VS preset and made some minor adjustments. Exposure is great because I get the look I want quickly, easily and accurately. If I had an SLR loaded with Ektachrome 100VS (which was, by the way, one of my favorite color films) and exposed the same scene, Red Chairs at the top is what it would have looked like. I chose that particular preset because it is a highly saturated film (bringing attention to the color contrast), but slightly less saturated, slightly warmer and slightly more grainy than Fuji Velvia 50. In other words, it fit my vision for the photograph exactly.

And that's how Red Chairs came to be. I'm often amazed at how photography can be both extraordinarily simple and highly complicated simultaneously. This photograph makes that point.

No comments:

Post a Comment