Top Tip: Stay in the camera

Sunset on Pasagrille Beach

Pass-A-Grille is located at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach, a barrier island along the west coast of Pinellas County, Fla.

In classes and seminars on photojournalism and photography that I have conducted, I constantly remind students of my first rule for fully capturing the moment that has served me well: “stay in the camera.”

My youngest son, Zack, and I set off for a late-afternoon “backyard” photo expedition yesterday with a Nikon DX digital body and 300 mm lens. We spotted a sailboat heading toward the Gulf of Mexico in the bay on the east side of Pass-A-Grille, so we took a position on a beach-side dune walkover as the sun was close to setting in the west. Within a few minutes we spotted the sailboat rounding the southern tip of the island and beginning to head north.

I have always enjoyed the “big sun” effect that can be captured with long lenses. The sky was virtually clear and the quality of the light was captivating. We waited and hoped that the sailboat would not be too far from the shore as it passed through the sunlight’s glimmering path on the water.

I made a few test shots, ultimately bumping the shutter speed to 1/8000 sec. at f/11 in order to retain some level of detail in the water, and we waited.

As the sailboat proceeded northward we were hoping it would arrive before the orange orb dipped below the horizon. It did and I made a few exposures. Still holding the behemoth lens for another minute or two, I continued to follow the northbound boat. And then, as if on cue, a southbound pelican traveled across the horizon. Click!

When I saw that last image, I was reminded again of the importance of “staying in the camera.”

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