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Surf's Up - Wilder Ranch State Park | by Joshua Cripps
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Surf's Up - Wilder Ranch State Park

On March 11th the front of a major storm system hit Santa Cruz and brought a wonderfully-textured pink and purple sunset with it. I hit the beach looking for waves but never imagined I would find one carved naturally in the sand.


When I shoot seascapes I'm always trying capture the waves and their motion in the most interesting way possible. Rarely do I get a chance to express that goal with such a great visual metaphor. When I saw this sand wave on the beach I laughed out loud. After all, could there be a more absurdly perfect subject for a seascaper?



Tech notes on this photo


Nikon D7000

Tokina 12-24 f/4 at 12mm


f/16 - To carry the DOF while being so close to the sand

8 sec.

Custom white balance about halfway between cloudy and shady

Lee soft 2-, and 3-stop GND filters, handheld




In Raw Converter (Nikon Capture NX2)

- Processed single raw file twice, once for the sky and once for the foreground

- Exposure bump because I didn't pay close enough attention to my histogram, d'oh!

- Global curves adjustment to add contrast and pop

- Local contrast adjustments to enhance colors and details in clouds, sand, and rocks


In Photoshop:

- Noise reduction via Neat Image plug-in

- Selective sharpening of the sand and rocks

- Blend in the sky via a gradient mask

- Dodge/Burn on Soft Light layer through various luminosity masks to enhace shine and appearance of sand wave, brighten rocks, and darken overly bright part of the sky

- Levels adjustment on dark luminosity mask to improve contrast in rocks

- Curves layer to brighten foreground and add contrast

- Color balance to remove a teensy bit of magenta from the the foreground


Until next time



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Taken on March 11, 2012