Ten years bring me back to April 2008. Aaron an I took a trip to Yachats for our anniversary, and I shot a lot of beach pictures.. in the glaring sun. We visited the sea lion caves, and I took zoomed pictures of these funny creatures in the dark.. with far too slow of a shutter speed for hand-held. I tried to capture waves crashing against the rock – while Aaron waited impatiently – and I didn’t even consider breaking out a tripod and an ND filter to beautifully blur the motion.
It really is remarkable to look back on how far I’ve come over the past ten years. It makes me wonder: at which of today’s habits will I cringe in another ten years from now?
As I was sifting through the photos from April 2008, I ranked them all. My selections back then – the ones I actually went through the effort of editing and lovingly placing in family calendars – didn’t even make my cuts now.
Not surprisingly, back then, I didn’t favor the boring snapshots taken during the harsh afternoon. Instinctively, I knew the best photos were taken during that magic hour of sunset.
And this is the one I liked best (back then):
This is a silhouette of Aaron and me, obviously taken with a timer with my camera on a tripod (proof I did own one back then! I just never used it…).
Things done right:
- I like the composition, and that’s mostly it.
- I did also shoot at f/10, which is a reasonable aperture for this type of shot.
- This was one of the few times I actually used a tripod.
Things done wrong:
- The photo is very underexposed, even for capturing the sun. For a shot like this, I should have bracketed so I could recover the shadows later.
- The image isn’t focused well. I should have used a manual focus to bring at least the waves into crisp focus.
- I shot in jpeg. This will always be a pain point until I get to photos recent enough to where I learned my lesson.
Editing this photo today, it’s actually not very different. Most of the changes I’d make are in how it was shot.
I did brighten it up slightly, and I chose to not crop it quite so tightly.
My new favorite
Looking again at my set, I find there’s actually another from that month that I like better. It still has many of the same flaws as the first, but I appreciate the artistry more. This is a very simple, minimalist photo that emphasizes the colors due to the lack of prominent subject.
I have certainly improved with my sunset photography since then, though I continue learning. What do you struggle with when shooting sunsets?