Within the San Diego area, La Jolla holds many of the best seascape shooting locations. For the past few years in particular, I have been concentrating my efforts with one small stretch of beach located just off Coast Blvd.
While running errands earlier in the day, I noticed a bank of high clouds to the west. So long as the low clouds did not fill in, it might make for a great sunset. I haven’t had many opportunities to shoot seascapes lately, so I was excited.
I checked the tide charts, and it would be a very low tide, which was ideal. The extreme fluctuations between high and low tide means that my favorite little pools of water would be full, but the pounding surf would be far away. It’s nice being able to shoot seascapes without fear of rogue waves, and driving home with soggy boots.
I still have a good supply of 4×5 quickloads (now discontinued), so I decided to spare a few. I shot a total of 5 shots, 2 on Velvia 50, and 3 on Provia 100. Near the end of the shoot — just as the color was fading — I decided to start an experimental long exposure on Provia 100.
I set the aperture to f/22, and clicked open the shutter. When I started the exposure, my meter told me to use 7 minutes. After the first minute of my exposure, my meter now told me to use 10 minutes. Soon, it read 15 minutes, and finally topped out at 30 minutes. I was chasing the diminishing light levels. My final exposure time was 18 minutes.
This is one of the reasons why I prefer to shoot sunrise. With building light levels, your exposure times will decrease during the course of the exposure. I average the starting time with the current time, and stop the exposure once I reach the average. Of the 5 photos I shot, the last one turned out the best. It’s tough to tell from this scan, but I have some decent detail in the foreground, and the highlights in sky are holding quite well. This is what the evolution of a sunset looks like, from saturated pink and purple clouds, to the dark of night.
Am I 100% satisfied with this shot? No, but it’s a good start. I now know how provia will deal with the long exposure. The color is natural, and the exposure is very good.