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Buried Treasure - San Gregorio State Beach | by Joshua Cripps
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Buried Treasure - San Gregorio State Beach

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Ok, San Gregorio State Beach is my new favorite beach. It has the glassiest sand I've ever seen. The beach is so smooth and flat that the reflections that set up in the sand are nothing short of astounding. This section of the beach in particular was extremely fun to shoot: a big set of waves would roll up and soak the beach, then roll back, exposing hundreds and hundreds of feet of pure glassy goodness. When this would happen I would chase the outflowing waves 30 or 40 feet down the beach then spin back around to shoot the glowing clouds to the north. Then another big set of waves would come in and chase me back up the beach. Great times. Thanks to Jim for showing me this beach.


Check out a vid of the beautiful interface of San Gregorio Creek and the Pacific Ocean in the first comment.


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Tech Notes on this Photo



Nikon D300s

Tokina 12-24 mm

ISO100 - To help lengthen the shutter speed in the relatively bright ambient light

f/13 - The choice of this aperture was a real compromise. I wanted to stretch out the shutter speed in order to help the reflections glass out as much as possible, but I hate shooting at f/22 because of diffraction softness as well as all the specks that show up in the image that I have to clone out. f/13 gave me a longish shutter speed while still being close enough to the sweet spot on my lens to stay fairly sharp.

1/2 second exposure

12 mm on a crop sensor

Lee 3-stop and 1-stop soft GND Filters, handheld at an angle to match the slope of the hill




In Raw Converter (Nikon Capture NX2)

- Processed single raw file four times (once for sand, once for sky, once for hill, and once at +0.7 ev to blend in to upper-left corner to mitigate extra darkness caused by filter)

- Global contrast for added pop

- Slightly darkened sky and added contrast to help pop colors and textures

- Local contrast and brightness adjustments in the sand to really make reflections come alive and enhance glassiness of the sand

- Minor contrast increase on hill


In Photoshop:

- Noise reduction of all four tiffs via Neat Image

- Selective sharpening of hill and trees only

- Hand blends of all four tiffs using vector masks, gradient blends, and the brush tool for touch-ups (Important note: if you are going to be doing lots of blending like this, make sure you do it in 16-bit mode in order to minimize posterization)

- Curves adjustment to slightly darken and add contrast to sand

- Minor, local curves and color balance adjustments to help reflections match color and brightness of the sky

- Curves layer to slightly darken and add contrast and drama to sky

- Saturation layer to slightly saturate and bring out the red tones in the clouds


Thanks for looking!



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Taken on February 16, 2011