• Large diameter clone stamping to remove defocused finger haze from down here.
  • Always pay attention to the edges of your frame to make sure there aren't any distracting elements like this. Slow down when you compose!
  • In the original shot this area was totally covered with sea spray drops, so this is a blend in from another image after I cleaned my filter
  • In the original shot, this bit was almost over-blown, so the sky is a blend in from another shot taken a few seconds later.
  • I have another shot from later which shows some excellent water action rushing along the curve of this shelf, but it didn't have the wonderful shine on the rocks that this one does

Holey Glow, Batman - Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz (Explored #3 - Thanks!)

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"I'll just fix it in post." Soapbox time! (but I promise I'll keep it short :). It seems to me that many photographers today are using post-processing to create their shots, rather than just fine-tune them. Add in some color here, clone out an annoying rock there, cut-n-paste in a sky from another day, and voila, a beautiful photo! I don't condemn these actions, but I do feel that relying on post to make your shot is a bad idea, because it turns off your brain in the field.

When you know that you can change anything you need to on the computer, you no longer put the effort into finding just the perfect comp, waiting for the perfect light, understanding how to properly expose a scene, and doing a million other things that are so crucial to photography. Post is great, but it's not a substitute for making the best image you can in the field. When you are able to slow down and work (yes, WORK) to make a killer image in camera, then post-processing serves as the polish which makes the image shine. And this is the real role of post-processing, not the invention of something new.

I bring this up because last night I was guilty of a lazy-photographer mentality myself. I hadn't found the perfect comp by the time the peak light hit, so I started rushing. Rushing around trying to find something, anything to shoot before the sky blew its proverbial load. Luckily I came across this comp as the light was waning but I was still rushing: I didn't take the time to take a test shot to make sure my filters were in place, I had my finger in the frame in the lower right, and my filters were spotted with spray. As such, my final shot had water drops everywhere, a blown out sky, and a bit of red haze down in the lower right from my finger. "I'll just fix it in post" I said to myself, and so I made a real frankenstein of an image here: the foreground and water motion from one shot, the rocky shelves from another, and the sky from yet another. Way too much work to create this image in post when a few extra seconds in the field could have got me the same result.

Tech Notes on this Photo

Nikon D300s
Tokina 12-24 mm
ISO200 - It was getting pretty dark but I wanted a fast-ish shutter speed to catch the streaky wave action so I bumped the ISO to 200
f/8 - sharpest spot on my lens but still provides sufficient DOF at 12mm; helps defocus scratches, drops, and dust on my filters/lens
3 sec - 3 seconds is a pretty long time if you want to catch streaky wave action (0.5 sec - 2 sec is better), so for this shot I had to open the shutter just as the wave reached is peak surge up the beach. That way I caught the full motion as it flowed back out to the sea.
12 mm on a crop sensor
Lee 3-stop and 2-stop soft GND Filters, handheld

3 separate shots with the above settings, hand blended to produce the final image
In Raw Converter (Nikon Capture NX2)
- Global contrast for added pop
- Slightly darkened and added contrast to the sky to add oomph
- Brightened foreground rocks and added contrast to enhance shine

In Photoshop:
- Noise reduction via Neat Image
- Selective sharpening of sand and rocks
- Curves layer to slightly darken and enrich the sky
- Curves layer to brighten and add contrast to foreground rocks
- Curves layer to darken and add contrast to sand and water streaks in mid-ground

Thanks for looking!


Jinna van Ringen, Matt Kawashima, and 181 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Nora Carol 52 months ago | reply

    wonderful photo Josh! great light and composition. Love the colors too!
    Happy New Year 2011, hope the New Year brings great news and prosperity. Thanks for all the support last year and looking forward for more pictures from you :)

  2. mbryan777 52 months ago | reply

    Wonderful composition, color and light! Well done. I love your work!

  3. Omri Suissa 51 months ago | reply


    (add me as a contact if you want :)

  4. idashum 51 months ago | reply

    Great long exposure shot - the water has such a silky look.
    Seen in my contacts' photos. ( ?² )

  5. chris frick 51 months ago | reply

    Such awesome colour gradients and fine work on the textures.
    Really good image structure with the fg, the diagonal line of the shore and the horizontals in the sky.
    Great contrasts.
    Good work and always nice to read your processing infos.

  6. hillsee 51 months ago | reply

    Beautiful glow on the rocks, and nice backwash lines...and well processed...great image, Josh.

  7. Steve Sieren Photography 51 months ago | reply

    Looks like a submarine in the upper left! Purdy sunset too!

  8. Jerry T Patterson 51 months ago | reply

    Frickn outer-worldly good Joshua !

  9. andreaskoeberl 51 months ago | reply

    beautiful tones! this picture is fantastic! well done!

  10. Philip Eaglesfield 51 months ago | reply

    Epic light and beautiful composition

  11. C. Dastodd 51 months ago | reply

    a very fine exposure...or i guess I should say having read your description, a fine set of exposures. :) I think you did some great work and produced a very lovely image. I can certainly sympathize with your rushed feeling and the thought about just "fixing" it later. thanks for sharing :)

  12. MakeLifeMemorable 51 months ago | reply

    I love all your photographs, you have such a unique style

  13. Jesse Bissette 51 months ago | reply

    Man that foreground rock is awesome!

  14. jetrated 51 months ago | reply

    Love the textures and light reflecting of the foreground. Spectacular

  15. TravellingTheBLU26 51 months ago | reply

    A perfect shot! Tones, light and detail are wonderful!

    Seen in Photographers' Choice~Hall of Fame!

  16. Photo--Graphy [deleted] 49 months ago | reply

    Marvelous image, nicely composed and shot. Very well done.

  17. 54StorminWillyGJ54 40 months ago | reply

    fabulous colors !

  18. Aaron M Photo 37 months ago | reply

    Saw your comment on Jim's latest photo so I had to come find yours. That's when I saw that your title for this photo was almost identical to a title I used for a HitW beach photo I took earlier in the month! Hah! Sorry, didn't mean to copy you (didn't even know until now!).

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