I was recently in Florida to spend time with my youngest daughter. It is the off time in preceding the beginning of her senior year of her grad program. She will soon move home (Washington) to do her internships and then we all (family) will travel to Florida one last time to see her graduate.
She has wanted a picture of her at sunrise on the beach at Ft. Lauderdale. I had a vision of a picture I wanted to capture at the beach as well. I envisioned a girl in a full red dress in the water. I had hope that the girl would start from underwater and then pop out of the water and I could catch the water streaming off of her in the early morning light. We searched outlet stores, thrift shops and the malls for just the right dress at the right price. Both were hard to find. I decided to buy some red lightweight fabric and wrap her in it to give the illusion of a red dress.
We decided to shoot on Sunday morn of Mother’s Day. The sun was supposed to shine that day without threat of rain. The sun was scheduled to rise at 6:40 am. We got up at 5am, grabbed some coffee and loaded the car with the necessary equipment. I had visions of strangers on the beach and the threat of being mugged, while Quinn envisioned some big sea serpent rising out of the black waters and dragging her off, never to be seen again.
As we drove through the city, I was struck with how light it was with all the street lights and store lights making it seem like a strange kind of daylight. We came in view of the water. It was a misty dark gray beneath a band of light sky with a huge dark gray cloud hovering over it. It did look a little threatening. We found the location we had scouted a day or so before and parked. Immediately a man ran across the street right for us–I was thinking that the muggers just don’t waste any time doing their job. Turns out that he was a kind man wanting to remind us to get a parking pass sticker so that we would not get $100 ticket when the police checked parked cars at 6:30.
Quinn ran ahead to the beach and when I caught up with her, I was surprised to see people already there–just a few of them. At first Quinn just stood and looked at the water–I was surprised at how light the sky was already.
The sun puts out so much light that the sky was pretty bright with the water reflecting the light, giving an eery glow to the beach.
I wrapped Quinn in the fabric and she waded out into the dark water. It was amazingly warm and the water was shallow for quite a ways out. I had her stop a good distance from me as I had to depend upon my flash to get an image of her in the water.
The trick now is to get her under the water and to be able to pop out with some force so the water will stream off of her–and to time my shot to catch the action. The wrapped fabric did not act the way I wanted it too–it was to tight on her to lay on top of the water. The water weighed it down and it would separate and begin to come off.
Quinn laughed because we both knew we were totally not going to get what I had envisioned. So we abandoned it.
The next series of shots are done at f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 1250. The flash lights up Quinn well. I don’t know it if was too bright or not. I tried to dial it down a little –hard to see my LED in the dark–this is one area I need to learn more about. I really wanted a dark mood to fit the dark water and the dark clouds in the sky. The sun had not made an appearance aIt this point.
The sun still has not made an appearance but it was much lighter out. We moved from the water to the beach for some shots.
When we scouted out locations we choose a spot close to a life guard tower–and I use the term loosely as it was only 8-10 off the ground. I originally planned on Quinn have the dress still on–but after the water shots, I decided to just shoot her in her swim suit. Odd how light it is out, but the golden glow is not there.
I am shooting into the light so I overexposed the background to have my subject be more than just a black silhouette. The dark band across the sky is a bank of clouds with a small space between the water and the clouds.
Still no sun. I saturated the color a bit –still overexposed.
I used a couple of presets on this to give it some interest. Matt’s dramatic sky gave the sky some interest. It photographed almost washed out. I also processed it in CS4 . It is sharpened pretty much to give it a that crisp look.
Quinn takes a break and goes out to just play in the water–it is a little brighter out–and by this time we are getting pretty disappointed our sunrise didn’t happen as we hoped.
First, I have to confess –I was not watching my aperture–shooting this at f/2.8 does not make sense to me–when I would have gotten more detail at f/16. When will I learn? We begin to see signs that the sun going to break the horizon soon–the rays breaking over the clouds were just so stunning.
Just a quick image of Quinn having fun in the water–while waiting. I lighted this a bit for internet purposes–I did not add any color or enhance the color–it makes such a difference what kind of light you shoot in.
There it is the sun appeared as a bright red light just over the horizon and under the cloud back. The water starts to pick up that color. Again what was I thinking with a f/2.8 aperture.
This is saturated color so the sun rays show up and the right color we saw with the naked eye. Now the sky and the water all reflect the color of the sun and yet we have not actually seen much of the sun. I was thankful for the cloud bank when I began to see this color show. The sun is above the horizon at this point and blocked by the clouds.
In each of the subsequent images it get lighter as the sun rises higher in the sky and we have the golden hour. Quinn wanted a picture of her silhouetted against the sunrise over the Atlantic. Dream come true. It just gets more beautiful every moment. We will do another image in the fall of Quinn silhouetted by the sunset over the Pacific–equally beautiful. She will even wear a swim suit. The Pacific is quite a bit more violent and colder than the Atlantic. Glorious color–something so worth waiting for and what a gift to me for Mother’s Day. It was one of the best I have ever had. Notice how dark appears except for the bright light of the sun. What is that saying–“it is always darkest right before dawn”.
So in love with the light–so stunning.Ft. Lauderdale condos on the beach behind Quinn will give her good memories of her time at grad school and the fun she has had on the beaches–granted maybe not so early in the morning. She was so thrilled we had gotten our lazy bones out of bed, faced all of our fears and made the trip. I have to say that it didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned–but I learned so very much and got to shoot in that fabulous light–back to the drawing board. I can’t wait for the next opportunity and I know I my not “nail it” as they say–but I sure have fun trying. Quinn and I went home so much richer for our experience and had an adventure we will never forget. We went home, showered, then went to a Cuban Cafe for an early morning breakfast. Quinn surprised me with a bouquet of flowers. It was a good Mothers Day.
Thanks for stopping by.