April 10, 2015, Hurricane Point, Big Sur Coast. August 8, 2017, my office. Morning of May 13, 2021, my office. Evening of May 13, 2021, my office.
On January 12, 2019, I wrote in my twelfth blog post: My dog and I decided that conditions were right for a ride down the coast. Travels with Chewy. And Nikon.
We made it as far south as Hurricane Point. Crystal clear. The horizon went halfway to Hawaii. And so went the sunbeam. Chewy and I looked out to sea. He turned and looked to me as if to say, “this is special.” A sea dog. A wise one.
Aided by a neutral density filter, I exposed to preserve the highlights. Back home, post-processing brought out the wispy clouds. I cropped in homage to Rothko.
Last week I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking about photography. I do that. Still working on distilling the essence of a scene. This particular picture was on my mind. It’s always been a favorite and it’s still a favorite in its original form. But for me the major appeal is the horizon itself. I got up in the morning to see how far I could pare it down.
I posted it on Instagram and it got a so-so response.*
I took another look later the same day and decided that the clouds, which are so evocative in the original, simply muddy up the simplified version in their vestigial form. I loved those clouds. In the original version. But not here. The picture needed refinement. An old editing truism: Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.
Killing the sky meant that suddenly there was too much foreground, so a lot of that went away as well. But some of the fog bank stayed. Maintaining a balance was quite an exercise, but I finally arrived at the magic moment where I almost involuntarily sit back and stare. That’s the time to stop.
I posted it on Instagram a couple of days later and immediately got a much better response.
(Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. RAW processing in DxO Pro. Editing in Photoshop.)
*I generally have a low opinion of social media. That definitely includes FaceBook and for the most part Instagram. Despite that, in my case I consider Instagram a necessity for exposure. I only follow photographers whose work I admire and respect, and for the most part my followers are photographers who admire and respect my work. I stay strictly away from politics and snark. I don’t alter my work to get likes, but the feedback does tell me how well I’m communicating and that gives me something to reflect on, absorb, or leave alone.