Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I realized yesterday that I’ve been seriously slacking in posting more pictures from my recent Jamaican vacation. I posted one the day after I got back, but that’s been it. So last night I tossed a couple more online, and snagged this one for today’s post.
The island of Jamaica is kind of oval shaped, much longer east to west than north to south. Negril, the town where we stayed, is on the far western point. The main attraction of Negril is the famed 7-mile beach, which is really beautiful. White sand, turquoise water, all that good stuff. It’s fully developed though, so if you’re looking for privacy or calm, you should look elsewhere. But if beaches are your thing, and you don’t mind sharing with a few hundred of your closest friends, you can almost surely find a great deal on a place to stay. That’s not all Negril has to offer though. There’s also “the cliffs”, just up the road. My understanding is that Jamaica is primarily composed of volcanic rock, and that’s exactly what you’ll find up the road from the beach. There are a bunch of hotels that sit up on the rocky shoreline, anywhere from ten to I-don’t-know-maybe-50 feet or so above the water. It seems like most of them have combos of stairways and ladders to get you right in the water, so it’s not like you’re giving up that part of the vacation. If you need your sand, look elsewhere, but if you want sun, water, and quiet, the cliffs are definitely a great choice. (And they have the added bonus that there’s fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had right outside your room.) We stayed at the Rockhouse, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Fantastic place. Also, that’s where I took today’s picture.
Sunset shots are an interesting topic. It’s pretty cool that such an otherworldly, beautiful experience happens basically every day. They’re a natural thing to want to take pictures of. Unfortunately, a lot of the time something that is truly awe-inspiring when witnessed in person can turn out pretty blah and uninteresting in the resulting picture. (This happens a lot with big panoramic viewpoints too, for what it’s worth.) Why is that? Well, here’s a couple possibilities. First, when you’re living through a sunset, the sunset is all around you. The entire sky is aflame with color. Everything around you soaks in the deep orange glow. It assaults all of your senses. It’s really BIG! And, just as important, there’s DEPTH. There’s always a challenge when you try to capture a “moment” in a picture, but in inherently emotional times like these, it can be particularly difficult. Pictures are small. Pictures are flat. Pictures aren’t a whole-body experience. So a scene that can be powerful in its simplicity can be.. kind of boring in a 4×6 print.
So, what does that mean? Well, it means that to get a cool sunset picture, you may have to spice it up a bit. How? Well, there’s a lot of different ways. One is to just add some depth. Put something in the foreground, that’s a neat trick that almost always works in just about any situation. If the viewer can see depth, it’s easier for them to put themselves in the scene. Another option? Add extra drama. Having a ton of color can sometimes work, but even better is to have contrasting colors. Clouds can be great for this, since they turn all sorts of crazy shades just before the sun goes down. (Clouds can be great for adding depth too.) Essentially, sunset pictures seem to work better for me if there’s something going on in there other than just the sunset. Although, to be fair, that’s not always possible. If you’re looking at a sunset over the water, and there’s no clouds, and there’s no boats, all you’ve got to work with is an orange ball and a horizon.. well.. I guess you’ve just got to work with whatever’s there. (Then again, it could be argued that half of what goes into making the perfect image is just dumb luck, being there at the right time to capture something cool. You win some, you lose some.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/800s, f/4.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 26mm.