Mum misses her Cronulla boy

On my Facebook page the other day I got a message from a potential customer who wants to send a canvas print of a photo of Cronulla to her son who is now living overseas.  She wants something that would remind her son of home and includes some local landmark icons like Cronulla Point and The Alley (which means a lot to him as a surfer).  She says his birthday’s soon but I also think it could also be a subtle way of making him home sick and coming home to Oz.

She asks if I have any photos of Cronulla?  I do, so I send across a slideshow of some beach shots that I’ve taken over the years with different styles (not just Cronulla), so that I can to get a better picture (excuse the pun) of what she’s after.

None of the shots are quite right and I understand why, my shots do try to be a bit different, so, as a photographic project challenge, I said I’ll go down and try to shoot what she’s after.  Working to a brief or with a more detailed desired objective helps focus (excuse the pun) creative direction.

My plan is to shoot some HDR panoramas – this is where you shoot multiple exposures of an image then stitch together to produce a panorama. By combining shots the “HDR” gives you a lot wider tonal range ( more detailed shadows and highlights). This type of shoot is a time expensive process – each set of image having three exposures +/- 3 stops with overlapping around each side of the image by 20% so that you can find common points and stitch together.

Rule of thumb is for every one hour shooting you need to allow 2 more hours for editing.

Note: A 22mm focal lengh on a 1.6x sensor = 39mm equivalent which gives a 47.8 Horizontal Field of View.   A 360° panoroma might use up to 72 images plus you if you also shoot several different horizontals (up and down along the y axis) you end up with lots of shots.

The Shoot

My day begins at 5.00AM – I check the Bureau of Meteorology for the weather report and what time the sun rises.  No rain is forecast and sunrise is at 6:48AM.  There’s the opportunity to shoot some pre-dawn long exposure shots and golden hour so I’ll get down early.  I clean my lenses, camera and check all my kit.

6.00AM – I’m positioned overlooking the rock pools at Cronulla – it’s freezing and still dark.  The swell is still large but messy like a washing machine.  The tide is low so I’m not going to get as good cascading blurred water shots that I was after.  Rock Pools at DawnPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia

Cronulla Rock Pools PanoromaPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia


Rock Pools - CronullaPhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia

I suppose one of things about landscape photography versus studio is that you’re not in control of all the elements.  The challenge is being creative – composing something within the frame that is interesting and engaging; and being prepared – able to quickly respond to any opportunity.  That means knowing your camera, able to quickly adjust the key elements of focal length, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  I shoot for a few hours.

9.00 AM I arrive back home and instantly plug my memory card into my computer.  Lightroom instantly loads and tells me I’ve 491 photos/ 8Gb to pull across.

9:20 AM The file transfer finishes and I begin batching the shots into panorama folder groups.  

9:52 AM I see a set of shots I like so do a quick export to Photomatix for the HDR merge and then edit in Photoshop.

There are two things I’m obsessed with at the moment

  • Broad tonal range (HDR)
  • Sharpening (using Photoshop Unmask Filter via LAB Mode – Lightness Channel)
This is my favorite shot of the day

Just another stunning SunrisePhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia

10:52AM I upload the shot above to Facebook  – the immediate reaction is very positive.

7:00PM  – For the last eight hours I’ve experimented with HDR’s panoramas.  There are some good ones but in my opinion they miss the brief.  It’s frustrating but that’s the way it is.

Down The LinePhoto by Scott Maxworthymaxymedia

I’ll head back down to Cronulla again over the weekend to try again – there’s a few things I’ll do differently.