J MacDonald Photography
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What Were You Thinking?: Installment #1

I've decided that maybe once a month I need to pick a photo and talk about it. 
This will serve a couple of purposes, not the least of which will be keeping me motivated to update this blog more often.  But the driver behind this idea was a comment made by a fellow Olympus user who is going to be attending a few workshops that fellow Olympus Trailblazer Mike Boening and I are doing here in Michigan. 
      This attendee said that he wanted to attend the workshops not so much to learn about the gear, but to learn about what processes I go through as a photographer when it comes to creating my photos. 
      So with that, the new monthly (hopefully for many months to come) write up will be called "What Were You Thinking?" And it will offer a little insight into how and why I do what I do in photography. 

So let's get this started!!


                                                    This image is titled "The Last Shot"

                                                    This image is titled "The Last Shot"

Alright a little back story here.  This was shot on January 2nd of this year (2015) on the beach in Grand Haven Michigan. The man in the photo is my friend, and fellow Olympus shooter David Bostedor.  David and I headed to Grand Haven on a spur of the moment trip when we found out that a winter gale was producing 15 foot a higher waves. These wave were crashing into the pier and lighthouse, providing a very incredible photo op.

Let's take a look at how I captured and processed this photo.

#1 Capturing the intensity of the moment and location.  

It was a powerful day of shooting, and my goal was to capture what the environment was like.
The wind was blowing at a steady 30+ mph with no break, a wind that didn't stop blowing the entire time we were there. Driving sand and snow and water into our bodies and gear. That is what we experienced, and I wanted an image that conveyed that force. I achieved this by doing two things. The first was timing a shot that showed the crashing wave in the background, and also by making sure the shutter speed was slow enough to allow some of the snow to blur as it was blowing by. The camera settings were as follows:       1/400s f/4.0 ISO200 56mm using the mZuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO with MC-14 Teleconverter attached.

I also "simulated" more motion by using the Nik(Google) plugin Analog Efex Pro 2. I applied a motion filter to the outer radius of the image, and made sure to preserve the clarity of my main subject, David. Sometimes I will "fake it to make it" in my shots. So long as I get my emotion through I am never afraid or ashamed to work it in post.

#2 Create a composition that creates more than a photo.

Wow...Pretty lofty statement right? But for me that is what this scene means. It is more than a photo, it a slice of emotion. The emotions I feel when I see this are a sense of movement, intensity, and of man enduring the elements to create his art.
I saw the composition before I ever pulled the camera to my eye.  I knew that because of where the wind (and of course snow) and water were coming from, that I wanted the image to be framed in a way that put the viewer in the position of looking towards where our subject is looking. I did this by composing our subject into the right third of the image and exaggerating the aspect ratio to beyond a 16:9 formatting. Everyone knows 16:9, and in the day and age of widescreen everywhere, I wanted to move outside of what is a "normal" aspect ratio for us. I think this is "just wide enough" to be non-typical, but not so extreme as to be uncomfortable to view.  

#3 Color is of no use to me.

I opted for black and white for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that color would add nothing to this scene, and would possible take away from our subject because the water cresting the pier was a brooding green under the frothy white foam. The second reason I chose to process in black and white was the stones in the background contained so much detail, structure, and character. I knew that a contrasty black and white processing would show off this feature. Albeit the stones are not the main player here, but they do offer some interest to the viewer once they let their eyes wander the scene.


So there you have it....My process, thoughts, and methodology for creating The Last Shot.

I am ALWAYS interested in feedback from you, so feel free to comment below, or drop me an email!


Take care,

Jamie A. MacDonald

Jamie MacDonaldComment