Ever since I was a kid I loved going to the beach. This might be because I was born in Durban, South Africa. My mom brags that I went into the ocean when I was a wee wee little baby. I went last week to visit with my mother, who recently moved to the Southeastern Coast of Texas. It was a memorable trip, I was accompanied by my grandfather, my 15 week old son, and my 2 cats. Yes, that flight was fun, and no, we were not the noisiest people on the plane. Surprisingly, and pleasantly the cats and baby slept most of the way. I was technically flying out there to re-home my cats, and mostly to have my own mom meet my son for the first time. It just so happened that I got to do an amazing sunrise photoshoot as well.
It was great to see my mom. There is something about becoming a parent that makes you appreciate your parents so much more. You realize that they held you, fed you, changed diapers, sang you songs. You realize just how patient and loving they were with you as a small baby. At least i hope that everybody is able to realize that, and attest to that being a truth. How much cooler to have my Grandpa too, seeing all the generations together was quite a treat, and we all had a great time.
I got in contact with the beautiful Bee, who is featured in these photographs and had the bright idea to do a sunrise shoot. Who doesn’t love sunrises? Who really needs to sleep in? It’s been months since I had that luxury, and I have actually become quite fond of the early morning hours. So much so that it is 4am and I am writing this, anticipating another sunrise, and another day filled with giggles. Life with a baby does that to you. Bee was gracious enough to agree to meet me, well before the sun rose, not once but twice that week. Thanks Bee!
My mom was kind enough to volunteer to drive me an hour each way, in the early early morning so that I could do my shoot. Thanks Mom! You’re Awesome. We picked Bee up and drove a short way to the beach. I wanted my beach pictures to be different. I knew I would have to get in the water to do this. Get in the water we did. I waded in up to my shoulders, and was so thankful to have ridiculously long arms. It was nerve wrecking. If I could have, I would have bitten all my nails off then and there. Waves are somewhat predictable, but often surprise you. There were multiple times my heart skipped a beat. It was a massive risk to go in the water with my camera. But, it was worth it!
One of the side effects of being in the water, with rapidly changing light conditions, and time moving faster than a race horse, was that I didn’t have the luxury of double checking my shots. Normally, while shooting I will examine my shots and make sure I am happy with the details. Everything in photography is about decisions, and there are ALOT of different ways to approach taking a picture. Photographers make decisions about shutter speed, aperture, ISO…not to mention composition. Seeing as we were so deep in the water and I was watching for waves and shifting sand, I didn’t realize that my shots were coming out soft. That is, they were slightly out of focus.
I felt that this was happening, and we got out of the water for a bit so I could think about it and work to correct the soft focus. unfortunately the sun had risen, and the light I was hoping to capture was rapidly changing. There just wasn’t time to do everything I wanted to do. We kept on shooting, and I kept changing camera settings. Since water acts as a natural reflector, there is a lot of light, and alot of different colors as well.
I was so bummed about having lost the light, I asked if we could re-shoot (actually the original push came from my mom, go mom!)
This time I was determined to be more prepared, I knew now how quickly the light would change. I studied my camera settings, asked other photographers questions, and did as much research as possible. Not too surprisingly there was very little information on actually shooting in the ocean. Who in their right mind takes their camera, unprotected, into the ocean?!?! I had several photographers warn me, and advise me to reconsider. Use a zoom lense they said. Good thing I packed light, and good thing I didn’t listen. I was careful mind you, as careful as you can be in moving water with sand being sucked out from under your feet. I was also thanking the photography gods for not having me slip or have a giant wave dunk me under.
The greatest thing i am taking away from these shoots, is the honing of light. I literally changed my camera settings 19,000,000 different ways, and each setting produced a different effect. The sun, the light, the water, the reflections, everything was in constant motion and change, and I moved and changed with it. It was exhilirating to have that level of control, and even more exciting to have my reshoot produce even more beautiful photographs. the shots exceeded my expectations.
After the sun was up we continued to shoot for a small while.
Both shoots produced a rounded out lesson on working with the camera in extreme conditions. I was able to maximize the lighting, and changing conditions. Most importantly, we used the space to the fulled potential and scored so many beautiful photographs.
Super huge thank you to everybody involved!