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The Clouds Below

The Clouds Below
A 2-minute exposure of beach surf from a high vantage point creates a cirrus cloud effect where the waves break upon the shore.

One of my favorite photography-related quotes is credited to Minor White: “One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.” As I was browsing through images from earlier this year to see if I could find any keepers I may have missed, I happened upon the image above taken last June during a storm at the beach. This image was taken from the balcony of my hotel room, about 40 feet above the beach looking down toward the water while the beach was clear of people due to the storm.

The long exposure serves to render the white surf line in a way that resembles cirrus clouds in the sky. The tonal difference between that area and the water seems to make it pop above the background of the water, making it look almost 3D, as if I were at such a high vantage point that I was able to shoot through the clouds to the water and the beach. I wasn’t sure if I was granting myself too much artistic license in interpreting this image until I showed it to my wife and she made a comment about a portion of “the sky” in the image and I knew I was on to something.

I’ve mentioned previously how long-exposure photography renders scenes, or portions of scenes, in ways we don’t experience in normal life. What we experience as reality gets smeared across the palette of time and amazing things can happen. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoy creating them.

Taken with a Fuji GFX digital camera and a Fuji GF 120 macro lens, the exposure was 2 minutes at f/22, ISO 100. A 10-stop Lee neutral density filter was used.


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