Capturing Coastal Drama: Sunset Colors and Beachgoers

by Kerry Drager

Lots of good things were happening the other evening! That included cool-vs.-warm color contrast as well as folks enjoying the coastal drama AND stopping in the best spot for my photo! ūüôā This image, by the way, is the latest in my “figures in the scenery” series in which people (or animals) serve as design elements, rather than identifiable subjects.


Details for Above Photo: Photographed at Moonstone Beach, a part of Hearst San Simeon State Park, California Central Coast. Nikon D4. F/8 @ 1/8th second. 400 ISO. 24-85mm zoom lens. Tripod.

By the Way: The camera settings were no accident. I chose a high ISO and a middle aperture, which resulted in a¬†1/8th second shutter speed. Now, that’s certainly not a super-fast exposure by any means, but it was fast enough to “freeze” distant people standing and gazing at the sunset. I shot a number of extra images for “insurance” purposes — to ensure subject sharpness and to also make sure I caught them in good body positions.

See Photo Below!¬†This “blue” image was captured just FIVE minutes¬†BEFORE the¬†above “warm-and-cool-color” photo. Great cloud formations and people-as-accent subjects in both images, but what a difference. It really pays to stick around when the late-day clouds and colors are in action.



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: …¬†¬†Also see his classes and workshops