Step-by-Step: How I Created This Photo
Sometimes you have to create the scene that you want, and that was the case with this photo. I really wanted a silhouetted subject to contrast with the bright colors of the ocean, but I didn’t have enough time to wait for someone to walk by on their own. So, I got some help.
First, take a look the beach, as it appeared when we (Erin and I) arrived:
Pretty, but the shot is missing something. Needing a subject for the foreground, I asked Erin to hold her sandals in her hand, and walk away from the camera. We actually tried this a few times, as each time I thought of something new to improve the photo. For the final one, I kneeled down to get a lower point of view, and had Erin walk towards a person standing on the beach, so that they wouldn’t appear in the photo (this person is behind Erin from the camera’s perspective).
I also held down the shutter button on my phone, and ended up with over 50 pictures. This way, I was able to choose the best one (considerations included which part of the stride Erin was in, and the position of the sandals, since they moved as Erin walked). Here are a few images from the sequence:
I ended up going with the one in the middle, as I think Erin is the right distance from the camera and not in an awkward part of the stride, and you can make out the outline of both sandals. But, some editing is still needed. The colors aren’t quite as bold as they seemed in real life (this happens when shooting in the direction of the sun; the camera had to let very little light in to avoid overexposure). I remember being amazed by how bright everything was – the sky, the clouds, the ocean – and I wanted that to come through in the final image.
I also wanted a silhouette, and you can still see some of the colors on Erin’s clothes, so she needed to be darkened. I imported the photo to Snapseed, and used a few of the app’s tools. First, using ‘Tune Image’ (this is where I do most of my edits), I increased the ambiance, saturation, and contrast. Saturation made the colors brighter, and contrast helped with the silhouette.
Finally, I used the ‘Drama’ tool in Snapseed to add a little more oomph. The Drama tool increases the contrast where light and dark areas of the image meet, creating more depth to the picture. The default is to reduce the saturation to -40 (Snapseed uses a +100 to -100 scale for everything, with 0 being the starting point), but for this photo, I put it back up to 0, though remember I had already increased the saturation in the previous step. I also significantly reduced the drama effect, from the app’s default (+90) to around +25 or so.
And that’s it! Here’s the final result:
What do you think? Have you ever created your own scene to get the shot you want?