2018 Ansel Adams Challenge January Winner - Barbara Livieri

I have to admit, I was ill prepared for this challenge. I didn’t shoot a lick in January of 2018 until the last weekend of the month. Poor start to a greatly perceived photographic year. However, I knew I had an opportunity as the camera club I belong to, the South Florida National Parks Camera Club, had a weekend outing coming up and I KNEW I’d capture something there.

We were heading to a beach area with a lot of rocks that more mimic the northern California coast than a warm sunny south Florida beach. But they do exist down here!

After arriving, my objective quickly changed to keeping my camera and my gear safe while trying to get something that didn’t look like every other photo I had seen. Hard to do for sure. We had a lot of wind that morning, about 20mph as the weather reports said, I didn’t have a wind-o-meter on me to get an exact reading, but it was REALLY WINDY! So, I armed myself with the rain sleeve I bought for Everglades summers, and a new CPL I had just purchased. Between the 2 accessories, I was sure no harm would come to my camera; well, relatively sure.

I started out high on the beach, afraid to get too close. And slowly I made my way down towards the rocky area. In my mind I envisioned getting down really low and pointing the lens up toward the rocks to make them look massive and to get some flowing water in between them. I was so consumed with the following thoughts: ‘is my circular polarizer turned properly’, ‘is my exposure correct for my shutter speed’, ‘is my shutter speed too long’, ‘or is it too short to properly shoot the flowing water’, ‘will I get one big bright smooth surface blob, or will it be dark and choppy?’ Plus, I had to keep my eyes on the waves. The tide was on its way out, but rogue waves were coming in quite quickly and could easily have toppled over an unsuspecting tripod.

I got the shot of the weekend by not even trying, and I’m afraid to admit, not paying attention. I was blabbing away with another member while continuing to shoot in bracket mode each time I thought I saw a wave coming in out of the corner of my eye. So, I was pressing the release and talking and suddenly, a wave shot up and we both got wet! First thing that came to my mind was “I hope I caught that!” We pulled back and I did some clean up on the filter, and did some ‘chimping’, and there it was, three shots in succession of this wave pummeling the rocks right in front of us. It was magic. I went back out knowing I was happy with at least one (or three rather) shots. So, I just walked around and played with different things. I saw a big rocky structure that looked like an archway. Everyone was shooting it earlier and I normally don’t like to do what everyone else is, but this I couldn’t pass up. The sun was pretty high by this time, so I had a big exposure difference between the bright sky and the dark rocks. Still in bracketing mode, I shot away.

When I got into the computer to edit, I merged my bracketed images and didn’t like any of them in B&W. So I used one of my average shots. I brought up the shadows just a bit to get detail out of the rocks, dimmed the highlights, and found a preset I liked, that brought out the deep colors. I tweaked it, straightened it, got rid of some ugly spots, and went for the B&W and wow, got me. I tweaked it a bit more to really deepen the dark areas and brighten the whiter spots and voile! There you have it. Something I hope Ansel Adams himself would be proud of, or at least take note of to shoot it himself properly one day. I do think that if I was more familiar with the area I might have been a little more at ease with the shoot. And I have learned some new things in these past few weeks since. Found a great new YouTube’r who explained things to me in a way that finally sunk in. I hope to utilize them in the next few weeks as I plan my next shots.

As Jason says… ‘on to the next’. Time to purposely find something that would be perfect in Black & White and go for it. More thought will definitely be put into this next photo. Good luck everyone!

Thanks Barbara for taking the challenge and I can't wait to see what you get for the coming months.

You can find more of Barbara's work on her FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM.