There’s a Ship in My Shot!

comments 33
California / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes / Ships / Sunset


January 24, 2016. Nepenthe, Big Sur Coast, California. We were celebrating my birthday with a day trip to Big Sur, and what trip to Big Sur is complete without an Ambrosia Burger at Nepenthe?

Satiated, I turned to see what my prospects were for a sunset shot. Laminated clouds? Check. Sea calm? Check. No fog bank? Check. Free of shipping traffic? No. There was a ship on the horizon, heading south at a good clip. Mental calculus brought me to the inescapable conclusion that it would ruin my shot. Damn.

I decided to shoot anyway, thinking I could get rid of the offending tonnage in Photoshop.

The sun descended. This ship approached on collision course, the skipper cluelessly unaware that he was messing with my shot.

Fine. I’ll shoot anyway. Click. Check exposure. Small adjustment. Click. Click. Click.

What. The. Farge?

No, Marge, it’s not a barge. It’s a ship in the shot sighted by the sun.*

This image will never be part of my Horizons collections, where there are no ship shots.

But it’s too good to sit in the archives.

(Nikon D750; Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G Zoom. RAW processing in DxO Pro; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

* Not quite perfectly framed, actually. Required a slight adjustment in Photoshop. Very slight.

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


    • No I didn’t. Fact is, I actually like the ship there. The only thing I did in Photoshop was to adjust the symmetry, only by about two or three pixels.


  1. I like the ship, Michael. Quite an intense and vivid shot. And the spot you shot it from. Had a recent birthday in Big Sur but we did not do the traditional Ambrosia burger this trip.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jane. I do too. I could’ve easily removed the ship, as I said to Steve — but fact is, I like it. Isn’t it great to live in a place where we can make a day trip to Big Sur?!


  2. Derek says

    A really great shot! Love the drama in it with the colors. I don’t mind the ship being in there.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Often we can make the most of something less desirable. It wouldn’t have been my first choice either, but you made a good image just the same. This sometimes happens to me at sunrise while at Acadia N.P. The cruise ships come in to Bar Harbor overnight while the travelers are sleeping…or partaking of the 24 hour food trough. I’ve missed a couple of shots but have been mostly lucky due to patience and a nice tailwind. I am no longer even remotely nimble so had to literally crawl over rocks to get down to this cave for sunrise. I think I might have followed Steve’s thinking had a ship been in the way but happily it floated across and left the horizon all to the sun.
    Nice dramatic capture, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow. That cave shot is pretty spectacular. Especially the lighting balance. Thank you for your compliment on the shot, Steve. Actually I had fully intended to Photoshop the ship out when I took the picture, but when I was in post, I changed my mind.


  4. I think the ship adds an emotional touch to your image…but then I am a wife of a retired naval officer. Also, your image brought to mind…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For me, the beauty of sunset at sea always was tinged with a combination of apprehension and excitement. It was a time for heightened awareness: for checking the rigging one more time, double-checking the course, and taking one more look at the weather. Without the ship, the photo would have been a lovely sunset. With it? It’s a strong, evocative image of a certain way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Which is why I stayed away from the content aware fill or any other tool to get rid of the ship, which would’ve been ridiculously easy. In fact, I did the opposite. I looked up the San Francisco shipping tables and schedules to try to figure out what ship it is. I never did figure it out but not for lack of trying. It looks like a cruise ship.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love it – that was the right thing to do, no question. I’m glad (but not terribly surprised) that you didn’t think you had to do what you’ve done before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. Mother nature gets the credit for that. Although some credit does come from my policy never to blow out highlights unless I actually want high-key.


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