Saturday, July 20, 2013

Making "Honeymoon Island Footprints"

Honeymoon Island, Florida is a 2,800 acre barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Dunedin. The entire island is a state park and is connected to the mainland by a paved causeway. The park gets about 900,000 visitors every year but going mid-week can net an all-alone hike on the nearly four miles of sand beach.

This particular Monday afternoon there were just a few cars in the parking area and I had seen no signs of other people for more than a mile. Then there was a line of barefoot tracks just above the water line. The footprints ran for about 60 feet and stopped as suddenly as they began.
Honeymoon Island Footprints
 It was nearly high tide, there were clouds a few miles out over the Gulf and waves breaking white just off the beach. The sun was just low enough and the footprints just deep enough for defining shadows and the clear blue sky was giving great color to the water. Time for a photo!

I set up my tripod and ball head low and just on the edge of the water to create converging lines with the beach and white of the breakers. I also wanted to emphasize the first print so it would lead the eye into the distance. The humidity was high, creating a slight haze, so I knew I would want a polarizing filter to make the distant clouds more distinct and darken the blue of the sky slightly.

Using a Sony Alpha 100 APS-sensor DSLR, I chose my Minolta 16-35mm f3.5G zoom. The 18mm setting fit everything into the frame and f16 at the hyperfocal distance supplied the required depth-of-field. Being a bright day, i used ISO 80 and after fine tuning the polarizer the shutter speed worked out to 1/80 second. A remote shutter release tripped the shutter.

Twenty frames were exposed to make sure I had choices. I wanted distinct foam close to the foreground footprint and plenty of white along the breaker line off the beach. It was breezy and I also wanted sharp foliage in the upper right.

The RAW file was processed in Adobe Camera RAW and saved as a 16-bit .psd file. Slight adjustments were then made to curves and individual color saturation on separate layers. The file was then flattened and slightly up-sized for a 13"x19" print. The original flattened file was also changed to 8-bit, down-sized to 1,000 pixels horizontal and saved as a .jpg for web use.

I continued my hike to the northern tip of the island and back again to the car. I never did see anyone who could have made the short stretch of prints in the sand. On the return trek they had been washed away.  

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