I drove out to Marina del Rey a couple Sundays ago to exercise my shutter finger. It had been awhile since I’d gone searching for scenes to capture, and the Marina has two things to recommend it: nice scenery and a place I’ve found I can park for free. I was bursting with enthusiasm to shoot because I’d devoted a little time over several previous days to watching tutorials about photo composition. There’s only so much I can watch about framing before I want to do some.
However much inspiration I was feeling wasn’t translating through the viewfinder. And I was starting to come up with all of those kinds of excuses that are so easy to make and so hard to listen to: it was too cloudy, the light was too soft, and there was nothing happening: no boats in the channel, so sun reflections on the building, no color (other than gray) in the sky.
Finding pictures is a whole lot harder than finding excuses!
I decided to power through and just practice some of the things I’d learned about composition and “working the shot” and the Rule of Thirds. It was, I’m sorry to admit, a modicum of motion for just going through the motions.
Still, there wasn’t much there. There were no couples to silhouette walking hand-in-hand into the sunset. There were no sails, either furled or unfurled, to capture against a rich sunset. There were none of the cliched things you’d hope to find in fifteen minutes at the ocean’s edge.
But I was there, even if the pictures I’d envisioned weren’t there.
Palm trees against a blue sky. Nothing says Los Angeles like palms against a blue sky. Or maybe it says Miami. Or Hawaii. Or anywhere else in the Tropics or Subtropics with water and dirt.
So I snapped the palm trees against the sky and tried to make a lesson out of moving around enough on the pavement to isolate a couple of them and get them to create “leading lines” and “points of interest” on the modified tic-tac-toe grid that controls composition.
There was a flag fluttering in the freeze, and if I moved back from it enough, I could get it on the yardarm from which it hung. A few steps more, and I could get the palm trees with it. Hmmm. Switch to the wide-angle lens and I could get some masts in the boat basin with the flag and the palm trees. Move several steps to the right and I could get the glow on of the sun. Okay, it’s not much but it’s something. I snapped it.
And then I moved about ten steps and saw something really offbeat. A sun through the haze. I switched to the telephoto lens and it looked… different. The silhouetted palms added something. So did the masts. So here it is: that afternoon’s big payoff.