Robert Atkins  

To the Sea by Robert Atkins

April 2021 - To the Sea

About the Image(s)

This image was taken at Ruby Beach on the Washington State coast right at sunset. It was a long exposure of a several minutes which started with the sun just still up and ended with it down beyond the horizon. The long exposure yielded some amazing colors - colors mixing as they changed with the setting sun. It is shot on 4x5 film (Velvia 100) which amazingly seemed to handle the dynamic range pretty well. Again, the changing light seemed to have something to do with that.

I've chosen to leave the soft colors and feel which the film captured - I've even pulled a little magenta saturation out of the image - and I've lightened it slightly too. The scene for me has a sort of ethereal sense which I've tried to preserve. Other than those corrections and some lightening of the sea stack to pull a bit more out of the shadows, I've done very little. Let me know what folks think of the more pastel rendering as well as the composition generally.

11 comments posted

Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Robert - I too love the colors and the subtle feel they invoke. I find the contrast between the smooth left with the ridged right to be very effective: a crossing between dream and reality, the here and the beyond. The clarity of the foreground is excellent - and I am surprised that was achieved with so long an exposure.
I tried lightening the rock further - but when I was finished I realized that I had practically matched your image ... so I think you were correct. Personally I would shave off a sliver on the right to stop that next rock leading one out of the image - and a sliver from the bottom: so that the transition between the smooth and the shore is cut at a quarter rather than at the corner which I think adds emphasis the oval of light in the water.   Posted: 04/07/2021 08:43:28

Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Gerard. On the crop, I see a couple of dilemmas. On the right side, I've tried cropping closer to the main sea stack (cutting off the sliver), but it feels like the sea stack is then pushed too much up against the edge. I've also gone the other way with more room but have a hard time deciding where to chop things. The version below has the whole horizontal extent - where would you cut it? Glad to get other folks opinion as well.

On the left side, your comment made me take a closer look and realize there is a pointed shape in the water flow, and I'm chopping off the point, so I feel I should go wider there and include the whole thing (as in the image below).

Then I tried your idea of cropping more on the bottom. Anywhere near a quarter it seems to lose the sweeping feeling I get when the shore line goes closer to the corner. The version below is a compromise where I've backed off a little from the corner. Again, I'm probably not seeing things right, so I'd be glad to have you take a crack at where you would cut it.

I'm not a particular lover of panos, but it seems that is where this is headed.   Posted: 04/08/2021 16:37:11
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Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Sorry - I should have just posted what I was trying to describe - a picture being a thousand words ...   Posted: 04/08/2021 20:49:54
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Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
This is a beautiful image Robert.
I love the colors and the foreground detail. Cropping is always such a personal preference. If you include the right half of the image the main stack is on the rule of thirds line however it may include some distracting elements in the bottom right hand corner. You as the artist will have to decide if it is too distracting. My main constructive criticism would be that by lightening the image you may have washed it out too much. I think the sky has become too grey. I have attached a version that shows more color in the sky and enhanced the yellow sunset. As well I show a crop that puts the main stack in the rule of thirds without it being panoramic. This is probably where I would go and then try to minimize the distracting elements especially in the bottom right corner.

This is an awesome image with beautiful colors.

  Posted: 04/17/2021 14:46:53
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Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Cheryl, thanks. I like your version very much. As I commented to Dan below, I've been experimenting with a more subdued look, but I think your colors are better. Also, I really like the way you solved the pano problem by creating more sky. I don't know why I never think of that. You've brought a couple such solutions to cropping problems in my images over the past year. Thank you!   Posted: 04/18/2021 19:15:34
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Cheryl, I took a quick shot at adding sky as you did, using content aware crop. It didn't work very well at all. Then I tried going back and re-doing the newly added sky by selecting it and using content aware fill. That at least allowed me more control in picking where photoshop looked to get the patterns and colors for the fill. But that didn't work very well either - no where near as well as what you came up with. How did you add the sky? Are there any content aware crop/fill tricks that you can share?   Posted: 04/19/2021 10:08:08

Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hi Robert, the subtle, pastel colors are nice and calming. The long exposure effect on the water definitely gives your image that ethereal look.
I'm seeing through the comments made here so far that there's a struggle in making this a truly captivating photograph. If I'm sensing this consensus correctly, I would agree. Besides the ethereal look, as a viewer, I don't think that's enough to carry the image. With that said, I realize my photography is more punchy and at times lacks subtlety. I am always against others trying to impose their vision on someone else's art. So, I'm interested in what you were trying to say or project through your photo.
Cheryl's rendition provides for more drama, but you loose that pastel look that I think you were after. This might be the direction you want to go and just needed a fresh set of eyes to send you on your way. You came across a beautiful scene, Robert. You have the talent to make this image come alive.   Posted: 04/18/2021 15:02:44
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Dan. I think I am trying to play around with a bit different look in the processing of some of my old photos. I printed a version of this (I've attached it) with much more dramatic colors for a club salon and it got a 30, but I was never that pleased with it. It also didn't do well in broader PSA competition. In general I get comments from some that my images can look unreal - I don't know that I am generally pushing the colors much more than others, but I'm sort of sensing that I should back off some. This was an attempt. Actually the last several months photos I've backed off some, but this was probably the most - going for something more pastel. And it is a different crop.

Again, thanks for the thoughts. If you had an opinion on the attached version, I'd be interested. I will keep playing around.   Posted: 04/18/2021 18:04:20
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Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Robert, thanks for the reply. I'm always afraid that I go too far with my negative comments. I don't necessarily agree that your images go too far. From everything I've seen from you, your images represent how you see and interpret a scene. To me, your style is appealing.
With your latest version, you have taken your photo in a different direction. Although the added foreground is interesting (emphasizing a leading line to the sea stacks), it creates a very busy lower half that conflicts with the calming upper half. Cheryl's version still seems closer to what I think you were after. What really feels awkward is more the composition, not the color. It's the sea stacks, partly because they fall out of frame. I might try removing the far-right section to see if that works. You have the perfect amount of detail there. The stacks are on the back side of your light source, so being in shadow, you presented that accurately.
Think about merging your originally presented image with Cheryl's. I think somewhere in there is the photograph you are looking for. Please show us what you come up with.   Posted: 04/19/2021 08:33:40

Dale Yates   Dale Yates
Hi Robert - this is an excellent image that shows the ethereal quality that you are wanting to preserve. The colors are excellent and the foreground detail adds to the quality of the image. My personal thoughts are to have the image as a pano as you suggested in one of your comments. I also believe that a slight increase in saturation and possibly contrast could be considered. However, this image is excellent and worthy of hanging on your wall.   Posted: 04/19/2021 15:50:59

Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Beautiful shot Robert. I love how the color and wispy shapes of the sky/clouds are also evident in the water and sand below. The jagged edges of the rock are also a strong contrast and silhouette between the smooth, undulating clouds and the layers of ripples/waves. I like how Cheryl's edit pulled out more colors. However, it's a gorgeous scene and great edit. Good job!   Posted: 04/20/2021 09:58:37


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