Point of View at Aliso State Beach in Laguna, CA (Photography Tips and Tricks)
Here are two different images I photographed on November 12, 2013 at Aliso State Beach in Laguna, California. Aliso State Beach is part of the Orange County Park system. Steve Drury grew up there and wanted to show me it’s spectacular scenic vistas. I took my pocket digital Canon camera along for the photo shoot. These photos were taken within the same time frame and with identical lighting conditions. How can they look so dramatically different. The key is proper positioning of yourself as the photographer to your subject and the available light source. If the light source is artificial, then you can move it. In this case, the sun is in a fixed position at any given time, so I am left with myself and my subjects.
For first photo entitled Camel’s Point with Dramatic Sky, I did a wide angle all encompassing sweeping landscape panorama. I took the Camel landmark and positioned the sun directly behind it and made sure my camera lens was exposing for the highlights and not the rock formation. This gives the Camel a nice ominous silhouette feel to the image with nice gradations in the sky. If I really wanted to show the perspective, I could have added a person or dog or both to the peak, but I decided that I just wanted the natural setting to look untouched and pristine. Again, taking a few minutes before taking a picture to think not only about the lighting and angle, but the theme you are trying to convey with the image, will make all the difference. A photograph isn’t just a visual image, it is a storytelling medium for the photographer and photojournalist.
For the second image of Camel Point, entitled Man’s Best Friend, Ray, my Service Dog, and Steve climbed the camel. This time, I positioned the sun behind my back, so I am 180 degrees in the opposite direction. The lighting has less contrast so it adjusts accordingly and brightens up the whole scene. Since it was an overcast day with clouds, I did not have to worry about any harsh lighting on my subjects.
Additionally, I worked with muted tones on Ray’s service dog vest and Steve’s wrap around sweater. Rather than a bright red, I used these muted shades that accent the sky, but did not become the focus of the photograph. Normally I would not dress my subject in a white T-Shirt and black slacks, but I wanted Ray and Steve to compliment each other in colors and I can’t change my dog’s tri-color markings on his fur, so we dressed Steve accordingly. Ray’s yellow bandana with a hint or orange warm tones stands out, but not too, much and compliments both the blue in the sky as well as the rock coloration of the Camel landmark.
Finally, you do not want your subjects to always smile and face the camera. This can be effective in most circumstances, but in this particular scenario, it would make the photo appear as a mere snapshot in some tourist’s vacation album. Rather, I had the subjects facing each other and shaking in accomplishment. Afterall, they used teamwork to climb this peak and surmount their challenges. Because they have a great relationship behind the camera, the on-camera relationship looks natural, like a private and intimate moment caught in time, rather than something posed and sterile. The look on their faces says it all. For more photos of Ray and Steve, check out our Harley the Cat Facebook Page.
– Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief, Phoenix Genesis
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