J MacDonald Photography
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What Were You Thinking?: Installment #3

Hey everyone! I am back with #3 in my series of articles explaining what went into a particular image I have shot. This month's photo was shot in one of my favorite places here in Michigan, Grand Haven.  Grand Haven is located on the west side of the state on the shore of Lake Michigan and has a wonderful pier for walking and fishing from. It also has a very cool lighthouse and accompanying lighthouse keepers building. And while this may sound like the perfect subject for a photo...and it is.....It is not what I was after when I went there to shoot.

Let's take a look at the image below and explore how I made it, and what motivated me to shoot it.

*Click the image for a larger view


So first let's talk gear. I know gear isn't "everything"...But sometimes it really is. The body used was the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. The body selection here isn't the most important part because I was mounted to a tripod when I shot it. That way I wasn't relying on the camera's image stabilization, and I could follow this person as the walked along the pier while keeping the horizon level. Of course it could have been done hand held, but keeping a level horizon while panning can be tricky. 

Now remember I said that gear DOES matter sometimes? Well this is the piece of gear that made the shot. The mZuiko 75-300mm was used for its long 300mm focal length. Sure the girl walking on the pier was a little ways away, but I chose the 300mm length to help "magnify" the sun. If this were to have been shot with say a 12mm lens, or 75mm lens, the sun would look like a small dot on the horizon. But with the lens zoomed out to 300mm we get that enlarged appearance of the sun that I desired. So there is a little trick for you there. If you want the sun(or moon!) to be BIG on the horizon in your photos, use as long a lens as you have. The longer the focal length the more pronounced the enlargement will be. 

Now how did I get the shot to be silhouetted?  I was shooting in manual mode, but you could easily do this in say aperture priority mode.  I had the camera set to center weighted metering, and metered off of the wisp of clouds to the upper left of the scene. Actually, that is where I set focus too.  Shutter speed was 1/6400th of a second as that is what was needed to expose the clouds properly and help throw the foreground into shadow creating my silhouette. Aperture was set at f/6.7 for no other reason than it happened to be there from a previous shot.

So recap:
Long focal length
Expose for the sun and sky
And keep the iso low. I was at 200 iso in my shot.

So now the inspiration for this? It is simple really. I wanted to give the feeling of solitude one can get while enjoying a glorious sunset. It was easy to do as this person was walking alone, and seemed lost in their own little world while the day came to stunning end.

I hope you enjoyed this little write up and I look forward to any feedback you may have.


Take care,