Many of the photos in this blog have arisen from spontaneity. This photo doesn't fall into this category. It falls into the "photographers often have to wait and wait and wait to get the photo they want" category.
I was spending the day taking photos (panoramas) on the Gold Coast, an hour's drive south of Brisbane. I had no idea what I was going to get and was 'wandering' aimlessly. I'd arrived in the morning and had taken a few photos I knew looked good. I was liking the way the day was panning out when I found myself wandering along the shorefront at Nobby's Beach, south of Surfers Paradise but still a part of the Gold Coast (which is a long, thin strip of 'built
environment' stretching 50km or more).
I noticed a small headland in front of me and climbed the steps to the top. I walked over the headland and had a look at what was beyond. Nothing in particular grabbed me so I turned and headed back the way I'd come. As I walked to the top of the headland I saw the vista of the Gold Coast skyline stretching out before me. I liked the way that the highrise crammed together seemed so small against the vast expanse of the ocean.
I stood on the path and fired off a couple of frames. It looked good but I wanted to get a cleaner view of the skyline, as there was a tree in the way that was screwing up my photo. There was a small wooden fence next to the pathway, beyond which the headland carried on for 20 or so metres before dropping away to the beach and ocean. I needed to be on the other side of the fence to get a clear shot of the skyline and ocean.
There were no warning signs - it was assumed people would know which side of the fence to keep on - so I stepped over the fence and walked closer to the edge of the headland where, as expected, I had an uninterrupted view.
I framed the shot so the skyline was in the far left of the frame and the ocean stretched away to the right (bit.ly/cDacA2) and took several shots, varying the focal length of my lens so the ratio of skyline to ocean varied. I liked what I saw and was about to call it quits when I looked at the same scene but from a vertical perspective, with the wash of the waves as a line running down the vertical panorama I envisioned in my mind's eye (I use a 35mm camera and crop the panorama format in Photoshop).
I moved closer still to the edge of the headland (I'm not great with heights, so wasn't 'teetering' on the edge) in order to get as much of the beach in shot. I framed it up, with the skyline at the top of the frame and the wash running down the middle of the frame (pretty much what you see here).
As sod's law dictated, I framed up the shot and a woman I'd spied at the bottom of the frame, who balanced the image nicely (against the skyline at the top of the frame), walked out of the surf and out of my composition. I'd missed 'snaring' her by a few seconds.
I quietly swore to myself. Having seen her balance the shot nicely, I knew I needed someone at the bottom of the frame to make the photo. The wash and the skyline looked good but I needed that extra piece of the 'composition puzzle'.
I stood where I was and waited. I had no hat with me and could feel the sun on my nose. I placed one had at the top of my forehead as a visor of sorts and my other hand on my nose. Having struck the pose, I wandered what the passing parade might have thought of the scene...a bloke standing next to the edge of the headland, camera over his shoulder, using one hand as a visor and the other over his nose. Thankfully I knew I'd never see any of them again and didn't care what they thought.
When I'd first stepped over the fence and started taking photos I noticed that the beach below where I was standing had a few people walking along it and swimming in it. Of course, now that I wanted someone in my photo to balance the composition, the beach had totally clear of anyone.
I did all I could do and waited...and waited...hands duly in place as temporary visors. I watched people walking down the beach, willing them to keep walking into frame where I needed them to be. A couple of women wandered into frame and I fired off a couple of shots but I knew they weren't exactly where I needed them to be. I needed someone to be in the actual wash of the surf.
I then found myself taking photos 'for the hell of it'. This is a strange phenomenon whereby photographers (and I can only speak for news photographers), if they haven't taken a photo for a few minutes, fire off a frame. I'm not sure why we do this - to ease the nerves...in the hope something will miraculously appear the moment we take the photo. Who knows?
I did this a few times and then started getting annoyed that, despite being a warm day and the population on the Gold Coast being well in excess of half-a-million people, many of whom were wandering up and down the beach, no one was on 'my' patch of beach.
I didn't want to pull the pin - it wasn't as if I could just pop back down the Gold Coast one afternoon during the week and try shooting the photo again. I was there specifically and knew I either had to persist or be happy with the series of skyline/ocean photos I'd taken.
The half-hour mark passed and, as I debated what to do, I noticed a bloke walk onto the beach below where I was standing, drop his towel on the sand and keep walking into the water. He was exactly where I wanted him to be and I started shooting.
He dived into the surf and disappeared out of my frame so I waited until he started wading out of the water before shooting again. I knew I was going to be happy with what I was getting - it looked good through the camera - and watched him walk into the shallows. For some reason he then started walking directly up the beach and, more to the point, directly up the middle of my frame!
I watched him become silhouetted against the wash of the waves and, to make matters even better, he walked with his arms away from his body, further enhancing the silhouette. If I'd set up the photo myself, I couldn't have asked for a better result. I fired off frame after frame as wave after wave, and wash after wash, silhouetted him.
I kept firing until he turned and walked up the beach. I excitedly turned the camera so I could see what I'd got and scrolled through the shots I'd taken.
There were several like the one you see here but the thing that sold this one to me was the person higher up in the frame bending over.
I couldn't have scripted the photo better myself and the half hour I'd stood there waiting dissolved into nothing. The walk back to the car was a good one.
To see more panoramas like this, go to - www.giuliophotography.com.au
Gear used - Nikon D5000, Nikkor 28-105 f3.5-4.5 lens, 200ISO, 1/500 f8