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Dancing in a Sunbeam





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1 Comment | Report
michaelbourgault February 22, 2017
Beautiful capture!

Behind The Lens

This picture was taken at Tennessee Beach, west of Mill Valley, California. It was at a gathering. It is a beautiful beach about two miles from the parking lot. Well worth visiting even though the sun hole has fallen down.
There is a knife-edge rock a hundred feet or so high to the north-west of the beach. At certain times of the year, late in the day, the sun sends a shaft of light through the hole high in the cliff face. If the tide and waves are right the beach will be wet and the model backlit by the sun.
Backlighting is always a plus. As this was daytime the rest of the model's body was sufficiently illuminated as well. That was lucky as it was a windy day. The strobes they brought were blown down and became unusable. The change tent was destroyed.
I used an APS-C camera with a 24-70mm lens and a tripod. No flash. The tripod matters, the kind of camera does not. All modern cameras (2012 on) are wonderful!
I had head of this shaft of light through the cliff. It seemed to me to be a great picture opportunity. The shaft of light only illuminates the beach part of the year, when the sun set at the furthest north in its yearly journey. I went another time with some friends who wanted to "play model" for the day and while the conditions worked, but were not anywhere near as nice as on the day I took this picture. I was also lucky that it wasn't foggy as that is very common on this coast from May-August.
Post-processing was simple (as I was not very skilled then). All the work was done with Apple Aperture. My main goal was to make the sunbeam more visible: from the mist in the air from the breaking waves, the backlit hair, wrapping around parts of her body and glowing through the skirt. No PhotoShop or similar post-processing was done.
In my camera bag
I keep everything in my trip bag all the time. When I come back from a shoot I recharge the batteries, clean or repair what needs to be, and repack. And, important, zip up the bag. I forgot that once and a good camera and lens fell to the floor and broke. What do I have in it? A camera with a 24-70mm lens, ND, closeup filters, batteries, extra SD cards, a small flashlight, a few tools, etc. I sometimes add a second lens.
Sun shafts are rare but fun. This one fell down a couple of years ago (there is a video of the collapse on YouTube last I looked). There are other shafts that might work in one form or another. A heart shaped one off Sutro Baths in San Francisco (but this would be a very different picture as it is fairly far off-shore-as is the huge on in Norway). There is a wonderful sun hole in Big Sur. The problem there is the huge number of photographers there every day when it is working. Another is way off shore in Sonoma, near Goat Rock State Beach (it was used in the movie "The Goonies" I'm told). And a little offshore at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz (but you would have to be in the water at dawn to get the shaft of light). And I'm looking for more...

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