It feels weird to be writing about beach photos on this 50-degree October day. My fingers are too cold to type about summer vacation! But that’s what I get for procrastinating a couple weeks. Here is the second half of my photos from our vacation last month to Corolla, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. You can find part 1 of these photos here. I’m writing a little bit about the compositional and technical choices I made for each of my vacation photos. The first set of pictures went over well, so I hope you enjoy the second set.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I brought only one camera body (Canon 5DII) and two lenses (70-200 f4 and 16-35 f2.8) on this trip. I brought no flash or other lighting equipment. I thought the technical simplicity of these photos would make them helpful examples for novice photographers to learn about my shooting process.
This sunset photo is one of my favorites from the trip. It was the view from the backyard of our rental house, which faced the Currituck Sound on the west side of Corolla. I love the way the sun dissolves into the water. My goal here was symmetry. I kept the horizon in the center of the screen, and an even amount of orange on the top and the bottom. The sun is one third of the way from the left, which is sort of consistent with the Rule of Thirds. (Except I wanted the sun centered vertically.) I shot it at 200mm to eliminate any light blue sky or water, and to make the sun look as big as possible. As with any landscape photo, I kept the horizon straight. Crooked horizons are a no-no for most pictures.
Last week we spent the final days of summer on vacation with my family in Corolla, North Carolina. We stayed in a waterfront rental house with my dad and my cousin and her family. Unfortunately my mother wasn’t able to attend, due to a work conflict. We missed her! But the rest of us had a wonderful week of beach time, biking, kayaking, and sight-seeing. Danny hasn’t stopped talking about the beesh (beach) and the bool (pool) ever since we got home. I loved seeing him so happy.
I thought that I would post the pictures along with brief descriptions of the technical and compositional decisions behind each one. I hope this will be helpful for novice photographers out there!
I took only two lenses on this trip: a Canon 16-35mm f2.8, and a Canon 70-200mm f4. That’s my most common way of packing light when I travel for vacation. If I want to pack very light, I bring only the Canon 24-70mm f2.8, because it is a great mid-range lens with lots of general usefulness. If I have room for two lenses, I prefer bringing a wide angle and a lightweight telephoto. Lenses with extreme focal lengths make for more dramatic photos than normal focal length lenses can offer. I like a little drama.
For this photo of the geese, I used the 70-200 at f4. I saw the flock of geese resting on the lawn by the Whalehead Club while the landscape crew was mowing the grass. I knew that the lawnmowers would eventually inspire the geese to fly away, so I hurried over toward them and waited. Sure enough, they took off shortly thereafter. I squatted low in the grass to make sure the geese would appear above the horizon in my photo, to enhance the sense of flight.
A couple weeks ago, I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Danny had been grouchy and tantrumy for a few days, and I was tired. One evening I put him to bed around 7, and considered going to sleep as well. Then I decided that I would feel happier if I went out and created something instead. So I grabbed my tripod and a camera with a fisheye lens, and stood in the middle of the children’s fountain in Lake Anne Plaza. Then I felt rejuvenated.
This first photo was taken at ISO 400, 4 seconds, f/8. The long exposure created a blur of falling water in the fountain. The smallish aperture made sure that most of the image was in focus.
There were several people dining outside at the restaurants that surround the fountain. I got right in the water and gave them a good show. No one said anything to me except for the little girl who was playing in the fountain while I was shooting. She was about six and was drenched. I was almost as wet as she was.
“WHAT are you doing?” she asked, clearly puzzled by this strange grown-up invading her fountain. “Taking pictures,” was my simple response. “Why?” was her obvious next question. I didn’t really have an answer to that. I just chuckled and told her that it made perfect sense to me.
This morning I left the house at 6:30 and headed to the Jefferson Memorial. I parked at the Tidal Basin just after sunrise. I set out with an iPhone, a goal of nine miles, and no time limit.
I reached my goal, and added an extra two miles just for the fun of it. It took me three hours, though! I stopped to take lots of photos, and even I took a leisurely stroll through Arlington Cemetery halfway through the run. I suppose in theory I am training for the Army 10-miler next month, but I’m using a pretty loose definition of “training”.
I might already be fit enough to run 10 slow miles in a race, but I’m too ADD to know for sure. Instead of focusing on pace and distance, I find myself focusing on sun beams, flowers, interesting people, and tourist landmarks. Oooh, look at that ray of light hitting that adorable bird on a statue! Must take a picture!
OK, so I’m not a hardcore runner by any definition. But I’m proud of the distance I covered today. And even better, my tourist jogging combines my three favorite hobbies: running, photography, and sightseeing. What’s better than that? I even get to listen to dancey pop music while doing it. Perfect.
Danny went on his first hike yesterday! We’ve taken him hiking several times, but this is the first time that we let him walk part of the way. He was downright giddy. I think we have a young outdoorsman in our family!
Mike, Danny, Ally, and I drove to Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland. After an hour and a half, we arrived eager to see the waterfall, lake, and beach. Then we saw the “no pets” sign at the entrance. My heart sank. Well who needs a park that is so crowded that they don’t want Ally there? We found a deserted trail in nearby Catoctin Mountain Park, and Ally got to run around without disturbing anyone. It was just right.
I saw this high-five last night during Lake Anne Plaza’s live jazz performance. I like living in a place where dogs take kayaks to concerts.
This photo was pure luck. I had my camera pointing in the right direction as the two of them decided to high-five. They didn’t know I was watching, but I’m glad I was. Don’t you love when it works like that?
Today Mike and I decided to brave the heat and head to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to see the National Aquarium. Danny got to see fish, turtles, dolphins, and jellyfish.
I guess we weren’t the only people seeking indoor entertainment today, because the aquarium was packed. We weren’t allowed to use our stroller inside, so Mike carried Dan the whole time. He’s going to be sore tomorrow! But with a few exceptions, Danny was cooperative and seemed to enjoy the day. I was excited to be a tourist for a day. It felt like a mini-vacation.
It’s hot and I’m sick. Like triple-digits-hot, and painful-chest-cold-sick. The weather is expected to get back down into the 80s next week, and I hope I’ll be over my cold by then. In the meanwhile, I want to jump into the lake outside my window and hide from the heat.
At least this sick time has given me a chance to start a project I’ve wanted to do for a while. I launched a new website!
I am happy to announce Reston Daily Photo.
As the name suggests, it’s a photo blog with a daily image of Reston, Virginia. My friend Tamera has been running Colorado Springs Daily Photo for a few years now, and I’ve always wanted to do something similar. Her site is part of the City Daily Photo organization, which I hope to join soon.
If you’d like to contribute images or articles to Reston Daily Photo, please let me know. I think this is going to be fun!
If you have a daily photo blog, link to it here in the comments.
We decided to have what Mike calls a Random Day yesterday. He says some of the best ideas originate from unexpected experiences. We took a lot of random road trips when we lived in Colorado, back before we had a baby and we could just drive into the mountains with no agenda. I love those memories.
We ended up spending our Fourth of July in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and then back home at our neighborhood in Reston.
My alarm chirped at 5am this morning, and I was out the door before sunrise. I decided that I was going to treat myself to a Saturday morning of tourist jogging. I spent two and a half hours running around DC, taking pictures of all the cool stuff that I encountered. 10 miles and 177 photos later, I came home to my boys with lots of stories to tell.
Today was my first double-digit running day! I stopped to take so many pictures that my pace was a comical 16 min per mile, but who cares. I did in fact run the whole distance; I just stopped a lot to enjoy all the interesting things along the way. I loved every minute. I think my running style is more like moving quickly between photo opps than actual running. I only wish I could run with my real camera instead of my iPhone. But even a camera phone can make me a happy photo runner.
This picture from the White House is my favorite of the day, but I saw lots of things that made me smile today. How did it take me 37 years to figure out that getting up early and doing cool stuff is more fun than sleeping in?
Hi, I’m Charlotte! I’m a photographer in Reston, Virginia. I love hiking, running, and exploring the world with my husband and young son.