Saturday, April 2, 2016

Low Tide Blues

For over twelve years I have been exploring the Ten Thousand Islands and have spent over 100 nights on those islands, somewhere out there in the gulf waters. Amazing how each island has its own personality with several moods. The ebb and flow of the tides alters the island's mood significantly. I find low tide to be the island's invitation to get to know it better by revealing its secrets after the water has flowed away. This is when I love to photograph the beach.

My photography has evolved over the years and now, I place greater emphasis on capturing the island views when I go out there. I always bring a tripod and all the equipment I need to capture waterscapes and beach views. Wide angle images work best with a full size sensor, which I do not have. So my attempts to go wide have required me to overcome my cropped sensor camera's limitations and take more images with the intent of stitching them together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The image below is made from two shots.

I've also pushed the limits of my filters by combining a circular polarizer with the neutral density filters. This gives me more opportunity to photograph long exposures during those midday hours, like this one below, two images stitched together.

Camera and post processing skills are one thing, but it all comes down to the subject. To me, capturing low tide scenes is tricky. The tidal landscape can be very messy and chaotic, making it difficult to compose an image. Leading lines and a strong foreground subject are often not available. Tidal pools can lack a pattern and can break the sky's reflection into little pieces interrupted by beach stuff. The image below and the one at the top are perfect examples of the tidal chaos typical for these storm-worn beaches.

Then there is the sky. In winter, the sky is often devoid of clouds at about the time of sunrise or sunset, which doesn't leave you much to work with. On the other hand, this year has been challenging in an opposite way with cloud cover that went from being very dramatic to very lackluster within minutes. Whatever I have to work with, I try to capitalize on the water reflections and get some kind of foreground into the composition. I try to get the cloud patterns to complement the foreground patterns and give balance to the image.

And here's the other thing, you never know what you're going to get when you arrive on an island. I pay close attention to the placement of the sunrise or sunset relative to the beach and I know the tide schedule. And I keep up with the weather forecast. Despite all that, I try not to have any expectations when I get out there, because it rarely is what you expect. I guess that's part of the fun, going with the flow, or the ebb. Whichever.