I've slipped into my artist's smock again today to make this image.  I've been running across a lot of work that features waves lately and it inspired me go digging in my catalogue to see what I might have on the subject.  Turns out not much - which is surprising given my affinity for water images.  (Click here to see a collection of my peaceful water images recently featured on  But serene was not the sort of water images I was looking for.  I had it in mind to create an image with tempestuous waves and dramatic clouds.  It's the paintings of talented artist Samantha Keely Smith that planted this seed.  I have loved her work for some time now and was wondering if I might be able to create photographic art inspired by the sort of images she creates.  After several hours of experimentation I think I might be starting to get to something.  It's not all the way there yet but I thought I would share it with you anyhow.  

So I'll start by saying outright this image is a composite of two images.  I'm not very practised at composite work so this was a stretch for me.  Both the image of the sky and the image of the water were taken at the same beach on the same night, no more than a few minutes apart.  The sky is from a single exposure adjusted in Lightroom.  The water image had a bit more processing on it.  First off, it is a close up of the wave break at the shoreline and though the waves look very big in this image they were no more than 6-12 inches high.  To get the shot I was crouched down very low with my rear end nearly in the wet sand.  It too was a single exposure tweaked in Lightroom and then brought into Photoshop where I experimented with the tilt-shift blur filter and adjusted the colour and noise using Color Effex Pro and Noiseware Pro.  Finally I did a bit of blending on the composite to help the two mesh together a bit better.  I'm still not 100% happy with that part but I am letting it go.  It's early work.... and I'm ok with it not being perfect just yet.  Sometimes like the song says you just have to "let it go..."  (so sorry I've put that song in your head for the day now haven't I?)

So even though I'm not totally happy with this image and National Geographic would never accept it for one of their covers... I don't think all the time invested was a total waste.  There is much to be gained from experimenting and trying out new things.  And it was fun too!  Hopefully one day all the practise will help me produce something great.

Have a good weekend my friends - maybe take a bit of time to try out something new.  If you don't like the results don't worry - you can always call it experimental art.

As I mentioned I've been running into many "watery" themed works by other incredible artists lately.  Here are just a few that have inspired me:

  • of course the paintings of Samantha Keely Smith - I can't decide if "Yield" or "Harbinger" is my favourite.  How about you?
  • Ben Young's sculptures of waves made from cut sheets of glass are fantastic - be sure to scroll to the end of the article for a short video about how he creates these one-of-a-kind artworks
  • the beautiful and daring photos of CJ Kale and Nick Selway of Lava Light
  • and last week's viral video of passionate surf photographer Clark Little who heads out into the beach break to get some of the most stunning shots

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Do you ever feel like sometimes you just need a bit of alone time?  Maybe a few moments to unplug.  This little fellow and I seemed to be on the same wave length (yes - I know - pun intended).  On the beach one evening, we were both enjoying the company of our own shadows when we crossed paths.  We stopped, I took his photo and then we each moved on.

If a bit of solitude is what you seek this weekend, then I hope you find it or it finds you.


I was travelling light that evening, carrying my Sony A7r paired with the nearly as heavy Nikon 85mm 1.4 lens (which is still a lighter combo than my Nikon body with any lens).  I was having a tough time learning to love the 85mm lens at first, (earlier post on this here) but lately it has been my go-to.  On the Sony I have to dial the aperture manually on the adaptor and as you can probably tell from the shallow depth of field in this case it was wide open (or small f-stop).  Nailing the focus (also manual) I still find quite tricky - even with the focus peaking on.  The number of keepers is still pretty low but every now and then I get one good enough to get me trying for more.

As for processing - I started out with some minor adjustments in Lightroom - lowered the highlights, upped the shadows, lowered the clarity to get a softer look.  Then moved it into Photoshop and used Noiseware and Color Efex Pro.  Also ran a blur filter on the ocean and sky to further soften them so they would be less distracting. Finally sharpened up the bird a bit.


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