Four Mile Beach and Improvisation

I put strong emphasis on preparation in my photography: I research a location extensively before the shoot, look for the best weather condition and, when it comes to seascapes, check the tide table.

When I'm at the location, I arrive early before sunset, or the day before if I plan to shoot a sunrise, and look for the best composition I can see.

Refining the composition is an essential step in my workflow. I choose the focal length depending on the message I want to convey, wide if I want to show a comprehensive look of the scene or long if I'm aiming at a more intimate landscape.

Based on the focal length, I choose the lens in my arsenal that gives me the best quality and I start the "dance of the tripod". I move the tripod ever so slightly to find the best angle, adjust the framing, take some test shots, adjust the framing again.

The goal of this process is to harmonize the elements in the image to take it as close as possible to the "ideal" in my mind that will convey my feelings in front of the scene, which is part of my artistic statement.

I rinse and repeat this process until I'm happy with the composition.

Then I wait for the light.

This process and workflow have served me well for years and will continue to serve me well for years to come.

They have brought me images like White Dunes, of which I'm extremely proud.

I have been planning to shoot at Four Mile Beach, close to Santa Cruz in North California, for years now and I recently drove down there when I thought the weather conditions would be promising.

The sky was clearing up after few days of rain.

As you can see in the video I took on location, I scouted the area extensively and eventually chose a composition to work on and refine.



When the unexpected happened.

A beautiful pink cloud was standing right on top of the iconic rock at Four Mile Beach, the colors all coming together on my left and not in front of me. I knew the scene would last only few minutes if I was lucky, so I had to work fast.

I quickly moved the tripod to the area on the left of my initial composition over very slippery rocks.

I had a very short time for composing the image and virtually no time for refining it. I had to rely on instinct developed in more than ten years of photography to arrange the elements in the image in a coherent and visually pleasing manner with little or no room for mistakes.

I even fell flat on the rock. The rocks were indeed very slippery. My left leg is still hurting a week later. 

Despite my very deliberate and slow process of photography, I leave room for improvisation, when the conditions call for it and when I'm lucky enough to spot a better composition.

The result of improvising at Four Mile Beach was well worth it.


Check out the Limited Edition Prints of Four Mile Beach, printed in house and signed.

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