You would think photographing rocks would be simple, but sometimes things are not as simple as they appear. On the shore of the Columbia River a few weeks back I decided to shoot some images of the beautiful river rock along the shore (in Maryhill State Park). Here are a few of the decisions or things I had to take into consideration.
- Is the composition pleasing? Finding something that really works can take a bit of searching. Sometimes you do some rearranging to get what you what, but doing that can be risky. The image can easily look too contrived or just not natural.
- Lighting? In this case it was early morning sunlight. I did try shading (my body) and using a diffuser to modify the lighting. In the end I chose the low angle sunlight. I used a polarizer and varied the amount of polarization to get the look I wanted.
- I varied the shutter speed. There were small rippling waves coming in and that kept the rocks wet. Did I want to see motion or not in the image? I liked the images without water motion– 1/30sec.
- Which lens would be best? My 105mm macro or my 24-70mm zoom? I went with the macro.
- What aperture? While the rock surface was flat, I did need to make sure the closest and furthest rocks would be sharp. With a 105mm macro this was critical. I found f11 was sufficient.
During the post processing there was a whole different set of questions and decisions to be made. How much contrast? How much color saturation? Any white balance adjustments to be done? Cropping? Touch up? Vignette?
So that is why these “simply rocks” images are more than they appear.