Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Feet in Maui

This is by far one of my favorite images.

Robin and I were spending a well-deserved vacation in Maui (it's our favorite spot). Of course during our vacations we usually end up 'working' more than ever ... but when work is what you love — it's not that bad of a thing.

One delightful morning I woke early and headed down to the pool. I looked around, stretched and slid into the water. It was nice — a little warm, a little cold. Perfect to wake you up and remind you that you're in paradise. It was bright, the colors were spectacular and I felt at peace. Now that's a message worth sharing and a feeling that an artist just doesn't want to let go of.

So off to snag a camera. I did know I had a problem though — because of the early morning light and the direction the pool was facing, using a polarizer wasn't going to give me all the color, tone and mood I needed. So, while in the condo — I grabbed my pack of graduated neutral density filters.

I knew I would need at least two — so I grabbed four of them just in case. I love painting with grads and this was going to test every ounce of skill I had with them.

Back to the pool.

So, my message was clear and my feelings about the place were well in focus (strong, vibrant, colorful, peaceful) — I set the inside settings of my camera - contrast, saturation, white balance and hue - to match.

Then I picked my spot. I dropped to the the ground opposite the chairs — pushing the camera down until I hid the ocean's water line. Yes, the ocean is just on the other side of the concrete berm. I picked a small aperture, one that I knew would maximize depth (hyper focal distance is an amazing thing), chose the shutter speed that would give me the perfect lighting for the chairs then began 'the process'.

I slowly moved the polarizer, eliminating as much glare as possible. But the angle was all wrong. Half of the sky stayed polarized while the other half slid off into the blackness I wanted. (This is where the grads come in.)

I positioned one grad at an angle in front of the lens to even-out the sky. I've got a lot of broken grads for just this type of occasion. I lined it up and got the sky to even out. Then I shot the picture.

Nope, it was terrible. Sure the colors were fine and the feeling was almost there ... but it needed something else, something like ..., ...., ...., balance.

There is no better human bias to play with when trying to express a calming, quite, easy-to-read feeling than — bilateral symmetry. I needed to even the entire image out ... not just the sky.

So out came another grad — this one was quite heavy. I placed it in such a manner as to darken the water in the pool into that same blackness as the sky. One look through the viewfinder and I knew I had it. While holding the two grads in front of the lens, I clumsily pushed the shutter.


Now this was fun — mechanics, physics and psychology all working together, plus the photo really shows how I felt about our little pool near the ocean and of that wonderful morning me, my camera and our pool spent ... in paradise.


  1. Mine, too! I think this picture would make a great postcard... or the cover of a book.


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