On the road to Santa Barbara…

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… I stopped off at a beach to do nothing but admire the view. I am on holiday, you know. There are loads of stopping points on the roads here which is great news if you’re a photographer and want to catch the view from a specific point. When I went to Iceland last year, pulling off the road was a hazardous business as what appeared to be solid stone was actually ash into which my front wheels sunk most rapidly.

I also played around with some ND (Neutral Density) filters that I bought for my camera before leaving. For the uninitiated – and this is the part where I feel like a magician revealing how a trick is done – ND grads are squares of glass that can be solid (filters) but are most commonly graduated (hence, grads. Sorry to be spelling out the bleeding obvious) and are basically dark – though not fully opaque – areas that fade to transparency as they spread down the glass.
Let’s assume you were taking the world’s most boring photograph of just the sea and a sky full of clouds split right across the horizontal middle of the frame. Point your camera and shoot and what will happen? The sea will be correctly exposed but the sky will be very bright, lacking in detail. Slip an ND grad in front of the camera – via a holder that sits in front of the lens – with the dark area of the filter over the sky and take the same picture and the sky will suddenly show more detail. Why?
Because to the light meter in a camera, the sky is bright, the sea is dark – no, I’m not lapsing into poetry – and the meter in the camera sets the aperture to get most detail from the dark areas by default. Because the sky is significantly brighter than the sea, it looks ‘burnt out’ and lacking in detail in the shot. But make the sky darker by using an ND grad, to fool the meter into seeing it as dark as the sea is and you get a perfectly metered shot more akin to what your eye sees.
Now, of course, two pictures would have been worth all of the above words but there’s a problem with the sky out to sea here, at least so far. It’s cloud-free right now. I cannot show you the drama of a cloudy sky courtesy of an ND grad because there isn’t a dramatically cloudy sky out here. Ho hum.
However, there was a pile of rocks, so here’s a photograph of them.

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There’s also a picture of a rock that a man, in his late thirties gave to me while I was standing by my car checking the sat nav.
‘Only Jesus Christ can make a heart as perfect as that.’ He said.
‘It’s a stone, idiot.’ I replied. ‘You are obviously confusing the popular image of the heart from Valentine’s cards and children’s animated cartoons with the real shape of the vital organ that pumps blood around your body and keeps you alive. If your real heart were this shape, you’d be dead and incapable of approaching complete strangers enjoying their holidays to make fatuous and nonsensical remarks like the one you just have. And it was God, not Jesus, who made the heart. And he isn’t real, by the way.’
Well, I didn’t actually say that, of course. I’m British and we’re very polite.
See you tomorrow.

Take a look at more of my work at www.billblack.co.uk