Photographing a Splash

I spent the better part of two hours photographing water as it splashed against the rocks at Bean Hollow State Park’s Pebble Beach in California. I noticed that foam was collecting in a pool just beyond the biggest rocks, so I watched for a while until I could begin to predict where the biggest splashes would occur. I also wanted to make sure that I chose the spot with the best light – I wanted soft shadows to show the incredible details. But I also wanted to be sure to avoid blown highlights and deep, black shadows. This spot was just what I wanted.

After I chose my spot, I took several test shots – I wanted nice, sharp details, and a perfect exposure, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about clipping my highlights. A chose to shoot at f/13 and 1/800 at ISO 400. An even faster shutter speed would have been better, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice too much depth of field with a wider aperture. I didn’t want to add too much noise either, so I didn’t increase my ISO beyond 400.

And then I clicked away happily until I was sure I had what I wanted… deleting far more shots than I kept, since I couldn’t predict what the waves would do as they crashed ashore.

This is my favorite of the collection.

Post-processing was easy – I converted the image to black and white, but gave it a bit of a blue tint. I also brightened up the lower right corner just a bit.

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