On Location: Weather & Safety
Weather and safety, so pretty quick little video, but there's a couple things, number one, safety, we always wanna be safe. But the other thing is there's some things about weather that we can use to our advantage. So I'm just gonna kick it right over to the video here. All right, we're back here at Ocean Beach. And so this time around, Justin, we're gonna kinda take a little look at weather, water, tides, kinda the whole thing around that. We'll even do some shooting at the very end of the segment, so we'll actually get the camera out and do some shooting, as well.
Let's get started.
All right. I think first thing, the very first thing, as you become an outdoor photographer, if you haven't realized this already, and I'm pretty sure you have, is you need to come to grips with the weather and the fact that you have zero control over the weather and that the weather 100% can and will make and break your shoot. But that's what makes it fun. It's almost kinda li...
ke golf. It's like that's what kinda keeps us going back. The weather changes constantly, you have no control over it. So a couple things to think about would be tides. What's the tide gonna do? So as an example, there's a place that I went to in Oregon. It's called Thor's Well. I could've saved myself a three-hour drive to this location had I actually just looked at the tides, because it's this place out on the rocks that the water comes into. Water fills it up, and then kinda explodes out. But it needs high tides. And had I realized that it needs high tide, I literally did drive three hours to get to this place, only to just see a hole in the ground and basically turn around and go back. So look at the tides. If you're going to a beach, be aware. Is the tide up? Is the tide down? We even get into safety issues there. I don't have to worry about it too much. I live in Florida. So our tides are not as bad as where I am right now. But there's literally, there's rip currents, and there's rogue waves, and there's tides that will kill you. And they have killed many, many people out there. So it's something you wanna definitely just be aware of. If you can be out there with somebody else, it's always a good thing. You do never know when a wave is gonna come up and you're not looking at it, and it'll either wipe you away or wipe your gear away. So just be careful of those things, as well. The other thing is seasons. So what seasons does the water tend to be really rough? What seasons is the water calmer? The other thing that seasons will affect is where the sun is. So, and this is a big one. You might see, and this has happened to me. I went to a beach one time. It had this arch out in the water. And it had the sun going down right through the arch. And I'm thinking, I'm gonna go get that shot. Well, you know what? That was in December, and I was out there in June. And the sun was in a whole different location on the horizon when it went down, so that I wasn't able to make that shot happen. So does it necessarily change anything for you? Not really, because you're gonna probably be there when you're gonna be there. So if it's something you can plan for, maybe you wanna look at those things. If it's not something you can plan for, at least kinda know what to expect. Okay? So that said, we're out here at the beach. I'll kinda go over a couple things that run through my mind. The first thing is I'm looking at the waves crashing against the rock. That, to me, that's kinda the first thing that I hit, was I saw the wave crashing up against the rock, and I'm thinking, well, if I put a long lens on, it's midday. I mean, it's cloudy, but it's still midday. I don't even need a tripod. I just want a super fast shutter speed. If I put a long lens on, I can get that shot, and I can actually capture the splash of the waves on the rocks. So to me, there's actually three shots I see back here. I'll take all three of them. One is the wave crashing on the rock. The other one is gonna be, there's some rocks in the foreground here. And why don't I frame up the shot to where maybe I have those rocks in the foreground, almost framing it? I'll try a couple different variations. I'll actually shoot one where I focus on the rocks and I shoot at a lower f-stop number. It'll let the background go out of focus. And then I'll try it where they're all in focus. And then the other thing is there's a piece of wood laying on the beach up there, too. So I can put that into the shot, again, add some foreground. We talked about that in one of the last videos. But I put that into the shot as foreground. Again, I'll try focusing on it. I'll use a lower f-stop number, let the background go out of focus. Then I'll use a higher f-stop number, and I'll bring it back into focus. So I'll do the first one. And what you'll see on camera is you'll see I'm able to capture a little bit of the wave crashing right up against the rock. And you're seeing the back of the camera right now. We're actually gonna do some post-processing on these photos, so you'll see some of the finished ones later on, as well. But now I'm gonna get down a little bit lower to the ground. And I'm gonna bring that rock and I'm gonna bring that wood into the foreground. So now I kinda have something framing the photo and bringing it into it. Cool. So what I'm able to do there is I kinda took both versions of it. I focused on the rock in the foreground, I used f/4 as my aperture, and that way what was in the background actually got blurred. And then I changed my aperture, and I made it higher, and that way what's in the background is sharp. So you can see, as I look through them, and just kinda looking at the back of the camera when I saw the photos, I'm kinda liking the one where the foreground was sharp and the background was sharp. But I think we can kinda play with it. And you'll probably come away with a few different photos, as well. All right, so Justin, that is our dive into the tides and the weather and all the water and that stuff. Make sense? What do you think?
Yeah, absolutely. Couple questions, are we gonna see you post-process these?
I don't do any post-processing on my photos.
You don't do any post-processing?
No, no, they come out of my camera perfect.
(laughs) Every time?
We will most certainly do some post-processing.
And I mean, I haven't even done anything to them. I haven't even seen them outside of being on the back of my camera. But it's very monotone outside. So it's almost like, I'm almost thinking in black and white. Do you know what I mean?
And I don't do a lot of black and white. But it's like when you see how monotone the scenery is right now, I'm almost kinda thinking in black and white. Or we really get in there and we really juice the colors that are there and see what we can do with it. But yeah, I'm already kinda thinking about what I wanna do with them later.
Cool. I'll be interested to see what we get. Another question I had for you.
So we're pretty far back, you have a telephoto lens on. But if you were thinking about getting closer and maybe putting a wide angle lens on there, and you're getting pretty up against the water line there, how do you think about protecting yourself and your gear? Are there any kind of tricks you use as the waves come in? How do you think about that stuff?
It's a good question, because I've probably done a lot of stupid things in the name of photography. And I do stupider things when I'm at home and the tides are much less than what they are here. So when I'm at someplace like this, I'm gonna think about it a lot. Number one, it could hurt you. Number two, it can hurt your gear really bad. And they come in fast. So I'm gonna try to have somebody with me that can watch. Like, if we're out shooting, we're both gonna be there. And I'm like, all right, dude, your turn to shoot, I'll watch. And then we switch places, my turn to watch and you shoot and vice versa. So I think having a buddy definitely helps out. If you don't have somebody, I'd say just be careful on how close you're really gonna get. You know? Don't be stupid about it.
Maybe take the camera down for a second, see where your surroundings, yeah.
Exactly, man. And you know what? That's exactly it. It kinda goes back to what we said before. Be aware of your environment. Know what's around. But the other thing is, is I'll tell you, if you're gonna be out something like this, carry lots of lens cloths, cause the closer to the water you get, the more spray you're gonna get. And here's what'll get you is you won't see it when you're shooting, because they're not really in focus, you know? So you're not gonna see it when you're shooting. You're not gonna see it til you get home and wanna kick yourself for never looking at the front of your lens, which I can already see that there's some spray on here. Carry lots of lens cloths, because it just, continuously wipe the front of your lens, even if you don't think you have to, because it will ruin your photos. It has ruined mine. It's ruined entire shoots.
Some really good advice.
But you did mention a good thing, which is if we're up closer to the water, because that's where I wanna go next, I've been standing back with the telephoto, cause that's what caught my eye. But I see some shots up there where I think we can get down a little bit closer and kinda just go a little bit closer to the water, bring more of the water in, and get a different shot. All right, so couple things to kinda recap from that. First thing I figured is I would show you guys some of the photos that we took while we were out there. So there's one of them. There's one of the ones where I kinda went shallow depth of field, meaning I used a lower f-stop number and focused up front. Everything kinda in the background goes a little bit softer. And usually I'll experiment with that, cause there's differing levels of softness in the background, right? So I might try it at f/4. I might try it at f/8, might try it at f/11. I'll experiment. I'll give myself a couple options when I come back. But that was one example. This ended up being one of my favorite ones, where I focused right up front and kinda everything else went softer in the background. But you know, guys, it's making something while you're out there. Believe it or not, I would never have thought I would've walked off that beach with a shot that I really like. I really like that shot. And to me, it's actually the focus that makes it. Had everything been sharp from front to back, I don't think I would've liked it as much. But I really like that you kinda see that piece of wood in the foreground as sharp, and it kinda gets a little blurrier. That's the one we saw earlier. That's another one where I think even, the background's even softer than the one that we saw earlier. But it's got a little bit, it's got some motion in the background. You can see the wave crashing up against there. There's one where I didn't go quite as shallow on the depth of field. That's probably f/8, where this one was probably f/4. So that's the difference between the two. And then remember I said that I put a wide lens on, and I'd probably get down closer to the water? That's the kinda thing that I look for. I look for an angle. I look for the detail in the sand, get down close to the water. But we'll talk about this when we get into composition. But angles work. Angles are good for photography. So we wanna get those triangular shapes into our photos. Not something that I think instinctively comes, but we can look out for it. All right, so Jim.
Question, sir. Could you talk to us a little bit about, I mean, I know a lot of the folks that we're going to be educating today are brand new to landscape photography. But we might have some pros or people that sort of wanna maybe move into that area. Could you talk a little bit about insurance, please?
Insurance, so insurance on your gear?
Yeah, like I imagine you have some sort of insurance.
So for me, for me, mine is on a rider that's on my home insurance policy. So almost kinda like jewelry, where your home insurance will only cover up to so much, but you can get a rider that goes on top of that. So that's all I know. I know there are insurance companies that specialize in doing this type of insurance, too. So that's definitely something, if it's not gonna be or you can't make it part of your home insurance, that would be a way to go, too.
Cool, and this is a great question. Do you ever change the environment when you're out on a shoot? Would you move a log? Do you move stuff around?
Oh, I will move anything. (laughing) I will move anything. I don't know if you guys remember the photo with the crystal clear lake with the mountain in the background and the rocks in the foreground. And I had said I get, singled them. So I actually, there was a rock that wasn't, there was a really cool-looking rock that I wanted in the shot. So I actually, it was on the beach, and I actually rolled it into the water. And the other thing that I'll do is I'll carry a water bottle. And if it's not wet, it hasn't rained, and there's gonna be a rock that's in my foreground, I'll wet it, or I'll kick water onto it, because rocks look better, concrete rocks, you ever watch a movie or a TV show, you ever wonder when people are outside, why the ground is always wet? It always just rained. Even though the weather's beautiful, it always just rained. That's cause they wet the ground to take the exposure, to make it a little bit darker.
That's great advice. Thank you, Matt.
All right, I wanted to show you guys, remember when I talked in that video about the shoot that I drove three hours to? So this was in Oregon. The place is called Thor's Well. It's in Cape Perpetua, Oregon. So it's a few hours south of Portland. But it's called Thor's Well. And water comes out of this, and it looks like a waterfall. You do a slightly longer shutter speed, and you got the sun going down behind you, really, really nice shot. You have to time it to the, hopefully you time it to a high tide at sunset, cause that's really the best time to shoot it. And you gotta have a high tide. So we went, me and my buddy went down there, and we never bothered really thinking about the tide for this. So this was Thor's Well at low tide. I mean, we didn't even know, we're walking around, we're like, "where is it?" (laughing) And somebody else was there, luckily. They're like, "what're you looking for?" We're like, "we're looking for this place "called Thor's Well." They're like, "yeah, it's right there." (laughing) It is a hole in the ground. But go there at high tide, totally different shot. Very, very different photo at high tide. But talk about safety, I don't know that I would go here alone. It's not death defying, but it could get hairy really quick if a big wave came in that you didn't see, cause you don't wanna fall down in there. And you don't wanna fall down on any of the rocks or anything like that. So having other people, we were with a group of four people, and we're all able to watch out for each other, and most of the time, we all weren't shooting. So interesting side story, we're talking about safety, (sighs) be careful what you'll do for the photo. I know sometimes, I think it's even more so for us, because maybe sometimes we go to a spot that we don't know if we're ever gonna get back to it. Right? And the pressure's almost on, maybe sometimes even more so because we don't do this for a living, that we don't know if we're gonna get back there. We wanna come back with a hero shot. And sometimes we may push the boundaries of safety a little bit. So the hike out here, we parked in the wrong spot. And we're walking across the rocks, and there's a gap. The gap in, there's basically a gap that you had to go over. It was probably this big. And if were to walk up and I were to see that, and I were to see that, maybe a little bit bigger, I were to see this gap here, if I were to walk up right now, I wouldn't even think twice about it. I'd just kinda hop over it. I got a backpack, and my tripod, I got hiking boots, it's uneven rock, and when that gap is death below, it becomes a bigger gap. (laughs) Cause it was a big drop down to, it was sand. The fall wouldn't have gotten me, although the rocks would've probably hurt. But I'd have never gotten out, and the tide would've come in. I mean, there'd be no way to get out of it. So long story short, I jump over. Couple other guys I'm with, they jump over. We get around the corner, we realize we can't go any further this way. We have to go back up, back to the road, drive down to it. Coming back, it was kinda raised. And I was so worried about making it across, cause there wasn't even any room to run and jump, so worried about making it across, I didn't look what I was gonna land on. And I landed on a rock that was shaped like that. So my ankle landed, rolled, and I sprained my ankle. It was a pretty decent sprain. I mean, it was wrapped up for a couple months after. So I didn't let it stop me from getting the shot. (laughs) I hobbled my way down, and I still made the photo. But when I say I've done some stupid things, I've done some stupid things for photography. I try to do less stupid things now, though. Anyway, so we talked about weather, we talked about tides. Another spot was in Olympic National Park, or on the coast out there. But there's that arch that I was talking about, and the sun went down there. Another place, just a couple hours south, was it Julia Pfeiffer State Park? You've got that nice arch cove here, just a couple hours south of San Francisco. And there's a popular photo of this warm light coming out of it. Only really happens in December. I didn't know that. I rolled up in June, thinking this is gonna be awesome. Doesn't happen in June. So things to think about.