Taken on the jetty surrounding the former Alameda Naval Air Station ships. The jetty is made mostly from large rocks dug up from the Bay. The rocks are generally about 6 feet in diameter. Each rock seems to have a unique pattern carved into it, by the sea's motion. In the distance is the skyline of San Francisco and some of the ships stationed in the Ready Reserve Force.
Photo was taken using a graduated neutral density filter. Tripod was not available, so I braced camera on an available post. Biggest challenge in getting this shot was managing the light levels while maintaining detail in the rocks despite the low light conditions.
Post processing included: Levels,Curves, Brightness/Contrast, Photo Filter, Shadow/Highlight, Exposure, 50% Soft Light, USM and cropping.
In general, I am happy with the final product, but somewhat dissapointed that rocks turned out more like a amalgous blob, and not a collection of individual distinct rocks.
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Thanks for your comment Mark & Critque Club. After looking at it with a more critical eye, I can't agree more that the ship on the right throws off the balance to the rather symmetrical image and draws the eye away from the main subject.
You can't be more right about the 20D's limitations when it comes to light sensitivity and ISO ratings. 400 is about as high as I will go for any photo that I want to take to the bank. I am always struck at how much graduated ND stops I require for a balanced shot. I think this came out fairly good, but I noticed that the sky in the upper right is still blown out a bit. Sometimes when the sun is off to the side I am tempted to offset the ND filter a bit to compensate for the position of the sun, rather than aligning the horizon. As you can see, the reflection on the right side of the jetty is more reflective than the left. I tried to limit this effect somewhat by using a circular polarizing filter as well.
I can tell you that shooting the jetty from another location to get that diagonal look you referred to is easier said than done in this location. The jetty is pretty isolated here and there are few obvious options to shoot from another angle. You are either on the jetty or in the drink. Nonetheless, the art of a photographer is finding creative ways to overcome these obstacles, so since the jetty is not far away, I will play with shooting this location at different angles.
FYI, I am about to upgrade to a 50D, since my 20D died recently and it is barely worth it to repair. Hopefully, with the 50D I will be able to capture a greater dynamic range in shots like this. Though I cannot rely on the camera too much, because being honest, I know the art is in the photographer's eye, not his or her equipment.
I quite like the centered Jetty but feel the boat? on the right is fighting equally for my attention and keeps pulling my eye, there's not much interest in the boat so my eyes lead back to the fishermen at the end of the Jetty but still constantly get drawn to the boat, so IMHO a slightly different angle to eliminate the boat might have worked better. The sky is beautiful and I love the 2/3 horizon line it's perfect. I wonder if taking the shot so that the Jetty put a diagonal line across the image with the wonderful SF skyline in the background would have worked? Can't decide either way so if you are ever back there please take a shot and let me know :)
Looking at your settings here you have done an amazing job, I know the 20D can struggle in certain conditions beyond ISO400 so the use of the ND grad and your bracing the camera on the post was a job well done.
Wonderful stuff really, would have been so easy to pump the Sat and oversharpen this one, but you have held off nicely and retained a very realistic feel to the image, there's good contrast and tonal range from top to bottom so very well done IMO.
Super location, wonderful sky, nicely controlled camera settings - I think you did a very good job and met the challenge well, this easily deserved it's 6+ score