The Photo at Your Back

January 16, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

In my last post from Hawaii (Tropical Sunset), I showcased a beautiful Kauai beach lit up by the warm light of the setting sun. My focus was on the obvious point of interest. Who would not fall in love with a golden sandy beach, palm trees, gentle surf, and for a bonus some pitch black lava rocks. The opportunities in situations like these are endless and one can experiment with so many different photographic techniques.

Shutter speed plays a huge role changing the look and feel of the ocean. Go for a long one and the action melts into a peaceful mist. Go the other way and a very short shutter speed freezes the droplets of the surf showing the energy charged water hitting the coastline. Then the choice of a wide-angle lens versus a telephoto one will completely change the message in a photo. And for a yet another twist one can reach for a macro lens and focus on the little things that often get overlooked. Then there also is focusing and depth of field to be explored. Another alternative can be going for a less literal or an abstract photograph and introduce camera motion during the exposure. And these are just a few examples for a more unique photo of an often-photographed place. And what place is not photographed often these days?

And then there is the another quite simple alternative as long as we keep our eyes open. Too often do we get so focused on a specific subject that we become blind to the other subjects around. And very often, a great photo, or even the better one, is full 180 degrees at our backs. While I don't always remember this, I have been trying to stay aware of this for many years now. Finish with your primary subject, keep your camera handy, and simply turn around. What do you think?

Kauai Beach Boys, Waiohai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii.Kauai Beach BoysWaiohai Beach, Kauai

Kauai Beach Boys, Waiohai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

It was no different this particular evening at the Waiohai Beach. I had spent quite a while taking advantage of the beautiful sunset light and explored the beach per the above. I also had a pinhole camera loaded with black and white film for a different take on that evening. And I had fun and left with several photographs that I really like and that will remind me of the experience for years to come. However, as the light faded, and I felt satisfied with the wonderful photographic opportunities the location had offered I turned around and started walking away. That is until I saw the scenes that I am sharing with you here today.

Too Blue to Surf, Waiohai Beach, Kauai, HawaiiToo Blue to SurfWaiohai Beach, Kauai

Too Blue to Surf, Waiohai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The combination of dusk and artificial illumination provides a whole different opportunity and look. The time after sunset and before night turns black is called blue hour and is an intersection of reality and visual trickery. The warm artificial light clashes with the cool natural light and our brains magically blend the two together for a nice but not all that striking view. However, things turn out differently when the photographer decides to set the overall white balance based on the warm artificial light. And digital cameras actually do that quite automatically in real time. The result? The cool background becomes even cooler and turns blue, creating a truly striking contrast with even more visual impact that the original scene. A limitation of the media becomes its strength. Even though it's clearly a manipulation it appears that blue hour photography has been able to retain its appeal for a long time and definitely outlasted some other techniques that proved to be short-lived fads, like overdone HDR tone-mapping. Or maybe that is just my wishful thinking because there is still quite a bit of this genre, and many smart phones default to such scene rendering. 

Next time you finish your primary photographic objective, don't pack up yet. First, turn around. You might be (pleasantly) surprised.

Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! (#etbtsy)

Previously from Hawaii: The Beginning - Seaside Pinhole Photography - Tropical Clichés - Windy Drama of a Tropical Morning - Quite an Ad - Searching for Sun and Warmth - Not Your Sunrise Cliché - So Peaceful - Some Morning Drama - Farmland in the Canyon - Further up Waimea Canyon - At the Edge of Kalalau Valley - Tropical Sunrise - Tropical Sunset - The Photo at Your Back

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