Travel Photography: Seaside Road Trip

Creative challenges at the sand dunes


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Travel Photography: Seaside Road Trip

with Mikkel Aaland

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Video: Creative challenges at the sand dunes

So what we're just here north of Fort Bragg and you know, a beach usually is flat, right? So but somebody had told us if there's a beach that has all these beautiful sand dunes. Now I thought lets go check that out. Sand dunes make beautiful pictures. Its kind of, the, it's middle of day though, and the light is, is not really cooperating so much, because it's, the sand dunes work really well when you have indirect light kind of coming at an angle. So I had some trouble right away trying to get the shot that I wanted, and I thought, okay, what can I do to these sand dunes to make them, you know, personalize them a little bit to make them more interesting.
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Watch the Online Video Course Travel Photography: Seaside Road Trip
45m 28s Intermediate Aug 13, 2013

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A favorite travel destination is the seaside small town—a place with salt air, beaches, shingled houses, and seafood on every menu. And a great way to get there is by car, making stops along the way.

In this course, photographer Mikkel Aaland travels to Mendocino, a classic seaside small town in Northern California, making stops in Mendocino's Anderson Valley and redwood forests along the way. The course details the gear and shooting strategies involved in capturing the personality of a small town and, just as important, its natural setting and the people who live there. Throughout the course, Mikkel emphasizes the importance of putting your own creative stamp on your travel photos through the use of simple props, friends, or family members.

Topics include:
  • Shooting along the way, from farm stands to redwoods
  • Engaging with—and photographing—the locals
  • Going beyond the postcard shot to personalize your photos
  • Stopping at a bed and breakfast
  • Shooting dunes, waves, and beaches
  • Reviewing the photos from the road trip
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Mikkel Aaland

Creative challenges at the sand dunes

So what we're just here north of Fort Bragg and you know, a beach usually is flat, right? So but somebody had told us if there's a beach that has all these beautiful sand dunes. Now I thought lets go check that out. Sand dunes make beautiful pictures. Its kind of, the, it's middle of day though, and the light is, is not really cooperating so much, because it's, the sand dunes work really well when you have indirect light kind of coming at an angle. So I had some trouble right away trying to get the shot that I wanted, and I thought, okay, what can I do to these sand dunes to make them, you know, personalize them a little bit to make them more interesting.

So I put the camera in a tripod. And I said I'll just put myself into the frame. This is normally where I'd have my kids running around or my wife. But, in this case, I, I was the model. And, I, this camera, I can set it to do intervals, so that, I can, it'll fire on its own basically. I just set how much time for how long. other cameras, you can use self timer. I also have a remote wireless trip that I could trigger the shutter release, but the interval timer worked fine in this case. So I just set it for about 15 frames going every three seconds, and I started off by just running up the the sand dune.

I did run. I got a little out of breath. And just tried to play with adding some action, some motion to the sand dune. Then I started waving this red scarf I have again try to get some motion, some color into the shot. These are really, these are hard shots to get. they're really hit and miss. And I'm not sure I got anything that I really like. I've worked it really hard. I tried lots of different different angles, different dunes. Can't say that I didn't have a good time, but I, I'm not sure I got a really good shot till the very end and at the very end I thought, well maybe I should just relax a little bit and play with the whole idea of being in Endicino and this kind of you know this meditative climate that everybody seems to be so relaxed and happy in.

so I, just perched myself on top of a, a dune, and, wrapped myself in a, in the red scarf, (SOUND) and just, you know, threw up the peace sign. I think that's the (SOUND) It really, okay, you never know what you're going to get. (SOUND) I gave myself the kind of a ticket to do what I want, and play with it, and explore my creativity. that's okay. I mean, it's alright to do that. In fact, you really don't want to be judgmental when you come to a place like this.

You want to be open, and okay, at times I was getting a little frustrated. It is frustrating. When you look at the your display and you say, that's not what I'm trying to get. So I was getting a little bit uptight, I, I realize that. but ultimately, I know I've done this enough times. That that's just part of the process. That goes along with the creative process. There's going to be times when you're just going to say, I don't have it. I'm never going to have it. I, I give up. That's when you really just need to keep pushing, and keep shooting.

And in, in cases like that, when I'm really frustrated trying to get the shot, like when I was trying to do the, waving the scarf. in between those shots, I was also just taking snapshots, and shots of the, of the dunes, just regular shots. And, ultimately, I think I'm going to be able to get some nice shots out of those (SOUND) Now, there are sometimes, I wouldn't mind throwing my macro on, the macro-lens, it's 105 mm. But there's no way with that wind and that sand that I'm going to change lenses on this digital SLR unless I'm going to the camera store tomorrow to have my sensor cleaned.

And now, the day is going along pretty quick and we, we really don't have that much time left. And I really would like to stay and shoot some more pictures at the dunes but there's this really neat sea cave that I've heard about. And I want to get over there and, and, and try shooting there and, and see what I can get there. So let's, let's go over to the sea cave and see what we can get.

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