June 8th is World Oceans Day – a chance to celebrate the bodies of water that make up 70% of our planet and provide food, recreation and place to rejuvenate the spirit. As home to an estimated 230,000 marine species, our oceans are a vast wilderness with ecosystems critically linked with our own. Unfortunately many of the earth’s inhabitants never see or experience our oceans, yet our impact through pollution and over-fishing has taken its toll.
Organizations such as the The Ocean Project provide a great opportunity to get directly involved in protecting the future of our oceans through personal and community involvement. Working with zoos, aquariums, and conservation groups, they sponsor beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other activities that help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the oceans and what we can do to keep them healthy long into the future.
Rocky coastline at Soberanes Point, Garrapata State Park, Big Sur, California (click for large view)
The Big Sur coast is one of those truly special locations that never fails to impress. The rocky shoreline and misty mountains are instantly recognizable the world over, yet her mood is constantly changing throughout the seasons providing a fresh perspective with each new visit.
From the early morning fog to the golden sunsets, this meeting of land and sea is in a constant state of flux. And as you make your way along that magical ribbon known as Highway 1, each turn reveals a slightly different scene that somehow seems more dramatic than the last.
For photographers, this perpetual change is ideal and the challenge of making fresh images (often faced in many other landmarks) is all but removed. The Big Sur coast is also part of the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary and its rich sea life, including Elephant Seals, otters. and migrating gray whales, provides yet another opportunity for great imagery.
Wildflowers above Sand Dollar Beach, Los Padres National Forest, Big Sur, California
There are many ways to create stronger compositions in landscape photography, but one of the easiest and most effective techniques is the use of leading lines. Dynamic lighting and great subject matter are the cornerstones of any great composition, but even when these elements are less than exceptional there is still a way to create an emotional connection with your audience. Draw them in and with leading lines.
The wide-angle lens (anything from 14mm to 24mm) has numerous benefits for the landscape photographer from incredible depth of field and relatively small size to a viewing angle that really captures the big picture. But all that visual information can be a bit overwhelming and lead to less than spectacular results without some control. Using the rule of thirds and carefully composing to include natural lines such as a shoreline, forest edge, stream, or mountain ridge can lead your viewers into the frame or guide them to a specific part of the image. Diagonal lines in particular create visual tension, which is a sure-fire way to add drama to your images and create an emotional response from your viewers.
Next time you’re out photographing, take a moment before you trip the shutter to make sure the elements within the frame are being used to their best advantage. Think of yourself as a director rather than just a photographer and you’ll start creating stronger, more exciting images.
Evening light on Na Pali Coast spires from Tunnels Beach, Island of Kauai, Hawaii
The north shore of Kauai has long been the stuff of lore. From children’s songs like Puff the Magic Dragon to movies including South Pacific, King Kong and Jurassic Park, the backdrop of lush spires and sun-drenched sands on the aptly named Garden Isle leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits.
From the village of Hanalei to the end of the road at Ke’e Beach the views are spectacular and easily accessible. At road’s end, the famed Kalalau Trail begins and winds its way along the dramatic Na Pali Coast for 11 challenging miles to Kalalau Beach.
Whether you’re looking to get away from it all in a remote tropical valley you can call your own, or simply want to experience a sunset like no other with your toes in the sand, you’re sure to find your little piece of paradise on Kauai.