Golden hour photo of cracked mussel shells, docks, and storm clouds.

Cracked and Cruel

Golden hour photo of cracked mussel shells, docks, and storm clouds.
Cracked and Cruel — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/160

Poring over Lightroom this morning with a fresh set of eyes it seems a solid chance I will publish upward of four photographs from yesterday’s Great Bay Boulevard golden hour shoot. While the initial shot I posted happened right in the thick of ever changing weather, I thought it best to post the remainder of the set in sequential order. This shot shares the added benefit of having similar light to yesterday’s; the others will not share such hues. Without further ado let’s talk about chronological photo number one.

Here I present a serendipitous exposure—a bank error in my favor, if you will. I forgot I had autofocus selected on my 14mm lens, a remnant from a photograph made on my last shoot. Considering it had been a couple weeks I was ripe for oversight. Remember kids, always check your gear! What could have been a costly error wound up producing an unexpectedly suitable outcome. While the focus ring had an automated mind of its own, it brought sharp focus to the center of the frame—keying on the skeletal remains of what I can only assume were once vivacious mussels—vivacious as far as bivalve mollusks go, anyway. From this unintended area of focus the sharpness decreases as it moves out throughout the rest of the frame, becoming increasingly soft at the edges adding to the sense of ruin.

Now, if you’re asking yourself how would have I made the shot had I been paying attention and took back control of my focus? Well, I would have gone with my standard play of hyperfocal distance, leaving the focus ring set a hair left of the infinite line. This would have rendered an even sharpness throughout the whole frame. In this case I think the accident is better. Camera’s computing power: 1, Greg Molyneux: 0.

Finally, a design choice I consciously made with this image came in post-processing. I’m talking about the crop. The long spanning boardwalk in the foreground had me thinking go aggressive from the get-go. With that I cropped into a very wide 3:1 ratio—my second such photo using said ratio. This brings the poor mussels situation front and center, greeting the viewer with the immediacy of the scene. This exposure was made only about an inch above the boards and this drives home the intimacy.

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