Regular readers know I spend a lot of time thinking about the way the camera's view of the world differs from the human experience of the world. For example, the Big Sur coast delivers multi-sensory input that includes a fine ocean mist, sweater-piercing wind, the smell and taste of salt air, and the relentless roar of the surf. None of this is available to my camera.
Of course with a camera I can record the scene, but merely documenting a location is a hollow substitute for being there. To create something memorable, something that more closely conveys the experience of being there, I start by identifying the elements of a landscape that move me. At Big Sur it's the transitory collision of wave and rock.
To my eye/brain a wave's crescendo is reduced to a memory before the moment fully registers, a single frame in a continuous movie. But my camera's ability to freeze an instant is the advantage I look for. When I arrive, rather than trying to make photos immediately, I put my camera down long enough to get a feel for the interaction of wave and rock (sometimes it's as simple as closing my eyes and following my ears). When I find something that draws me, I move around in search of a composition that emphasizes it.
In this case I watched the waves strike this rock from different angles. I liked the pattern of the foreground rocks and set up my tripod to feature them. I chose a vertical composition because the sky was beautiful, and I thought the rocks and waves would be lost at the bottom of a horizontal frame. Once I had the composition I liked, I stood back (remote release in hand) and waited for a wave to strike perpendicular to the imaginary line between me, the foreground rocks, and the large rock. Watching the swells appear several hundred yards out, I knew when the angle would be right well before the wave arrived. I captured several frames and chose the one I liked best.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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