Exploring Color, Line and Pattern

by Kerry Drager

A lineup of rental ocean kayaks caught my attention the other day — for two very good reasons:

1) Color contrast: Check out the warm tones (mostly yellows) vs. the cool greens.

2) Graphic design: Lines and patterns were the attractions here. Also, I slanted the camera slightly to make the already strong lines even stronger — as diagonals.

With my telephoto zoom lens, I zeroed in tight on the best parts of the scene, while leaving out surrounding distractions (see the overall view below). A tripod, by the way, let me frame my composition precisely (no need for post-cropping!), while also letting me get a deep depth of field (via f/22 for maximum front-to-back sharpness) and use a low ISO (100) for the best in image quality.


As always, lighting was just as important as subject. Here, the light was just right — soft and diffused from an overcast sky.

More Info: Photographed at San Simeon Cove, William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/22 @ 1/6th second. 100 ISO. 70-300mm zoom lens set at 170mm. Tripod.

By the way, here’s a “before” image that shows the overall view:


Like what you see? See my listing of exciting classes, mentoring and workshops…

Surf, Sand and Shadows

by Kerry Drager

A high vantage point is often a unique photo viewpoint! From atop a coastal pier, I pointed my camera straight down in order to catch these long diagonal lines created by the low-angled sunlight of early morning. The sudsy ocean curve also made a very nice contrasting element in this light-and-shadow show. In addition to shadows, a low sun — whether early or late day — also creates great texture in sand.


More thoughts:

– A telephoto zoom let me zero in tight on the best parts of the scene, while letting me keep out any distractions. BTW, I don’t post-crop, preferring instead to compose the image just the way I want it at the time of shooting.

– I took multiple shots of this scene, since with the ever-changing surf, it’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll get. Some images had too much water, others not enough, but this picture — to my eye — was just right

All the Details: Photographed at San Simeon Cove, William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/22 @ 1/15th second. 100 ISO. 70-300mm lens set at 145mm. Tripod.

Like what you see? Check out my website: kerrydrager.com … Also see a listing of classes, mentoring and workshops…

Learn to Get Creative with Your DSLR Camera!

Hello, California photographers in San Luis Obispo County!

I am teaching an exciting photography course this fall! For more information, go to my website: www.kerrydrager.com/Pages/Photo-Class

Or, for additional details and/or to sign up, go directly to the Cuesta College Community Education website…




Striking Silhouettes for Visual Impact

by Kerry Drager

Here’s my daughter-in-law posing and having fun in the dramatic evening sunlight at Morro Strand State Beach, CA Coast. (Thanks, Kim!) This image, by the way, is part of my “Figure in the Scenery” series, in which the subject serves solely as a design element, as opposed to being a close-up and identifiable star of the picture.


Picture Details: F/10 @ 1/1500th second. 100 ISO. 24-85mm zoom lens set at 44mm.

Photo Strategy: The extreme bright-vs.-dark backlighting was ideal for spotlighting Kim’s form — via silhouette. For shooting, I used a continuous “burst” mode in order to fire off a rapid series of pictures. Along with a fast shutter speed, that technique helps ensure hand-holding sharpness while also helping to catch the peak of the action. In addition, I set my zoom lens for VR (Vibration Reduction).

Silhouetting Tip: Make sure the main areas of your silhouetted subject are set against lighter tones. You want to minimize the amount of merging between  dark subject and the dark parts of the background. That’s what makes a silhouette really out in a photo!

My B&W workflow: The lighting contrast combined with little color also made for ideal black-and-white conditions. I first processed the Raw color image in Adobe Camera Raw. Then I converted it to B&W in Photoshop CC (Image > Adjustments > Black and White). The picture was fine-tuned with red and other B&W filters.

Like what you see? Check out Kerry’s website: kerrydrager.com …  Also see his classes and workshops

Creative Close-ups: Abstract Abalone Shell Design!

by Kerry Drager

Moving in super close on a subject can be very cool and very colorful … and very intriguing, too!

I found this excellent abalone shell at a coastal shop and quickly purchased it. At home, I placed the shell on a deck railing — with soft natural light from shade. And, with my DSLR camera and a macro lens, I photographed the shell’s abstract pattern of intricate details and bold colors.


Above photo: Abalone Shell Design … Nikon D4 (full-frame DSLR). f/22 @ 1/8th second. 100 ISO. 105mm macro lens.

Although the shell was mostly flat, there was still a curve to it, and with extreme close-ups, even a slight amount of depth is a factor! As a result, I chose the small aperture (f/22) in order to produce as much depth-of-field (front-to-back sharpness) as possible. As always with stationary scenes, I used a tripod in order to obtain maximum image quality and also to fine-tune the composition in order to get it just the way I wanted it (so no post-cropping needed).

Below Photo: Here’s a quick snapshot that shows the overall scene. After shooting this, I used a macro lens to fill the frame with the colorful design.


Like what you see? Check out Kerry’s website: kerrydrager.com   … Also see his classes and workshops…