Photo Critique – Gray Whale Cove by Vivienne Shen.

Gray Whale Cove by Vivienne Shen

Last week’s video discussed how to capture motion in your photos by either stopping the action or letting it blur. For my critique I’ve chosen a beautiful blurred motion shot posted by Vivienne Shen. This shot of sunset in Gray Whale Cove in Montara, CA, works well for several reasons. Right off the bat, Vivienne captured the scene in beautiful light and got a great exposure. Not easy to do in a scene like this, and she helped her cause by using a reverse graduated neutral density filter, which basically let her darken the exposure more on the horizon than in the sky higher up, while leaving the foreground alone. The thin clouds on the horizon also helped to tone down the sun a bit and kept lens flare at bay. For a shutter speed, she used 0.4 seconds, which was slow enough to blur the surf near the camera nicely. A faster shutter speed would have resulted in less blur, which would have had a different feel. A slower shutter speed would have resulted in more blur, and less definition in the surf. A much slower shutter speed would have flattened out the waves in the middle ground, which I think are an important compositional element as they are, and would have lost impact if flattened out.

Two elements give this image more interest than your typical sunset photo. First is the ethereal look of the sunset light reflecting off of the water and rocks in the foreground. Second, the curves in the blurred surf in the foreground act as a nice “anchor” that leads your eye towards the sunset itself. This combined with the horizon in the top third of the frame and the wide angle perspective, gives the image good visual depth. All in all, a great shot – thanks for sharing Vivienne!

You can see more of Vivienne’s photography on her Flickr stream.

If you have any thoughts on Vivienne’s photo or my critique, please post them in the comments section below.

For having her photo selected, Vivienne will be receiving a copy of The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography. For a chance to win your own copy, check out this week’s assignment, Shoot Sharp, and post your photos to our Flickr Group. I’ll be choosing a photo from this week’s assignment next Wednesday.

Cheers!

-Jerry

P.S. Here’s a look at what’s currently in the Flickr Group:

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