Chasing Light

What do you do if you want to go somewhere and your family and friends don’t want to or can’t get away when you can? Deciding to explore the world on your own can be a daunting prospect. Thoughts of the drawbacks may cycle through your mind: having no one to rely on should problems arise, planning the trip all on your own, being a target because you are solo, table for one most of the time, or the possibility of being lonely.  The perks of being able to do what you want when you want wherever you want look attractive but will it be right for you. It takes a leap of faith to take on the challenge. As with most things — you don’t know what you don’t know. With a “you won’t know until you try it” attitude I took that leap of faith to France a couple of years ago and in the process learned a lot and among many memorable experiences a long afternoon and evening taking in the changing light of Mont Saint-Michel stands out.

5U5A2988

At first sight, the Mont is an impressive and awe-inducing structure. Its size dwarfing the people and vehicles on the bridge. This area is known for extreme tidal fluctuations and upon my arrival the tide was out and the light was muted from the gray sky.

5U5A2995

Boats become stranded on the sand and people can walk in the silty sand, with caution, during low tides.

5U5A3007

I walked up to the Mont on the bridge, explored the town and toured the Abbey taking my time admiring and capturing the almost 360-degree view from the top.

5U5A3073

The afternoon was turning into evening and the sky with billowy clouds was ever-changing. The golden hour was beginning. Different times of day bring different light to subjects. At sunrise and sunset the sun is near the horizon which creates a golden hue and cast long shadows. In the time before and after sunrise and sunset the light changes hue quickly. From blue to pink to gold in the morning and the reverse in the evening.

5U5A3175

The late afternoon sun added a beautiful golden tone to the walls.

5U5A3164

The surrounding countryside isn’t immune to the sun’s rays.

5U5A3141

The sky wasn’t the only thing changing, suddenly, I became aware of the sound of rushing water. The tide was on its way in, and when that tide comes in it surges in. The boats are once again floating on the water as the gold turns to pink.

5U5A3172

The speed of the incoming tide was creating waves.

5U5A3179

Engrossed in the phenomenon, I hadn’t noticed the sky beginning to darken when a drop of water hit my cheek. Then another and another and suddenly I was in the middle of a rainstorm. Not yet ready to leave this show of color and water, I pulled out my umbrella and went back to the demonstration of mother nature’s extremes. During the rain the lights on the Mont were lit, illuminating  the walls.

5U5A3188

Slowly the golden hour gave way to the blue hour.

5U5A3200

I left to grab some dinner and since I was staying nearby went back to get the full nighttime experience.

5U5A3206-2

The tide was completely up by this time and the water surrounding the Mont was reflecting the lights.  I said good night to the Mont-Saint-Michel and returned to my hotel. Contemplating my afternoon, I felt blessed and grateful for having taken that five thousand mile leap which landed on the distant shore that day. Being alone allowed me the unscheduled time to linger. If I had waited to go or been with somebody who wasn’t willing to stay and let the moments unfold and watch the light change, I would have missed out on the events that October afternoon. I never would have come to the conclusion that the Mont- Saint- Michel is a beautiful subject in all lighting.

Cheers,

Susan

 

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

By Susan Greene
Finding your artistic voice, what does that mean? Is it anything like locating your misplaced keys or the missing sock in a pair? Maybe, a little bit, in the sense that it is there and just needs to be discovered. There is much written on the subject and even courses offered to assist people with finding their photographic voices. This month’s literary term of exploration is voice/sound.

breaking waveMost know what a wave sounds like and maybe seeing a photo of one conjures up the sound of it crashing in your mind. Some are gentler and quieter.

susnet wheelie rider on shore Others are big and powerful,

large breaking wave, redondo beach CAcrashing,

breaking wave, surfer and photographers, redondo beach CA with a loud boom.

large crashing wave, redondo beach CA Can a photo convey sound?  This month try to imagine what a scene sounded like when you contemplate photos. As for finding that artistic voice, it might be quieter and gentler thus requiring some introspection. Artistic voice is your unique story to tell how you wish, no matter the medium, you choose the style.  For a photographic voice, look to the photographers that inspire you and the things you are inspired to photograph.

I’ll be looking at the beach!

~ Susan

Catch a Setting Sun

It occurs every day and can be taken for granted because of this, but some days I am compelled to find a spot to settle in and capture it with my camera. It is the setting sun. There are times when the sky is clear and you can watch it slowly sinking into the horizon until all that is left is a glowing spot where the sun used to be.

sunset at beach
It was this sort of day recently that sparked my photographic enthusiasm.

sunset landscape at beach

Capturing the colors and beauty of a sunset with a camera can be difficult but there are a few adjustments one can make to help. The sun is very bright and bright things have a tendency to be overexposed. When this happens, the colors are washed out and not as vibrant as they appear to the eye. I start with setting my light meter to spot meter and aim slightly to the left or right of the sun. A smaller aperture opening – which is achieved by using the larger values – keeps the sun’s light from overexposing the scene. I used an f-stop of 22 in these photos. Using a small aperture creates the need to gather light somewhere else; this can be accomplished by either slowing down the shutter speed, raising the ISO or using a combination of both. The higher the ISO number the more sensitive to light the camera becomes.  A slower shutter speed increases the risk of blurry pictures due to camera shake, which increases the need for a tripod or a very steady hand. I used an ISO of 800 for these and the shutter speed varied to adjust to the changing light  as the sun set.

sunset at beach Digital cameras have a white balance setting to help the camera portray white in changing light conditions. Auto white balance works for most situations but some light sources have different hues which changes the color cast of a scene. There are options to set the white balance for different lighting conditions such as  incandescent or fluorescent  lighting. If you want to boost the orange and warm tones of the sunset you can set your camera to the shade setting of white balance. The light in the shade has a bluish tint so the camera adds warm tones to balance out the blues and create an even tone in that circumstance, but you can use that property differently also. It can be fun to play around and see what you get.

sunset at beach

The cloudy setting also adds warm tones.

sunset at beachFor a different effect try the fluorescent setting.

sunset at beach

sunset at beach

So, though the sun sets every day, each day’s sunset is unique and offers an opportunity to seize a moment to reflect and appreciate the rhythms of the earth . Better yet, grab your camera, turn to the west and capture a moment; maybe you will be lucky enough to catch the elusive green flash.

Westward Ho!

~ Sue

The Dog Days are Upon Us

With summer winding down but heating up here in California, one’s thoughts may turn to cooling off. Around here, the place to beat the heat is at the shore.  Manhattan Beach was the destination this day, for me and a few others.

summer day Manhattan BeachMy wide angle lens will often create a vignette effect when at its widest and sometimes I choose to just go with it. I like the feeling of being the observer through a telescope it imparts.

summer day Manhattan Beach pierAt the end of the Manhattan Beach pier is a small aquarium and cafe, which are worth the trip out; if the prospect of the view isn’t enough to entice you on its own. This day, there was an interview being filmed alongside  the usual sunbathers and swimmers.

summer day Manhattan Beach

The view looking back at the beach from the pier.

Manhattan Beach, CA

The evening at the beach is a lovely time to enjoy the cool breezes and sunsets.

Hermosa Beach pierThe Hermosa Beach pier is often frequented by fishermen.

Hermosa Beach pier sunset

Piers are intriguing subjects in my opinion. The symmetry of the pilings and the silhouettes of the figures capture my imagination. Whether viewed from close up or further away I am drawn to these structures suspended over water.

Hermoa Beach pier sunset

The perfect ending to a summer day. . .

sunset Hermosa Beach, CAEnjoy these last few days of summer and try to keep cool out there.

~ Sue