Rangefinder Magazine began to run short 1 to 2 page articles in what they called The Rangefinder Cookbook. This image of my friend Nikki is one of my favorites and I am thrilled that the article ran in 2005.
The hula is one of Polynesia’s special gifts. It tells the history and stories of the Islands in a magical fashion. My good friend Nikki and I wanted to create an image that would portray the spirit, meaning and beauty of the hula. The location of the shoot was critical to the success of the image. We shot the image on the East coast of Kauai so the sun would be setting behind the camera position. This was important because I wanted the quality and quantity of light falling on Nikki to be the same as what was on the background. It would have been possible to shoot the image on a western beach, but we would have had to deal with redirecting the light as it dropped into the ocean and would have risked overexposing the sky and water.
The trickiest technical aspect of the shot was shooting as the sun ventured in and out of the consistently “partly sunny” Hawaiian sky. Constant metering is needed in these situations because of the continual changes in exposure. An incident metering technique was chosen because that style reads the amount of light that falls on the subject and renders the metered point as midtone—or 18% gray. All highlight and shadow areas record in a natural relationship to the metered point. There is no need to meter from the subject on an open beach because the light source is so far away that the ten or twenty feet from camera to subject will not affect the exposure. This is critical to because the sunlight disappears rapidly in the late afternoon and crucial shooting time would be lost by walking back and forth to the subject to meter the scene. Simply point the meter behind you in along the same camera—subject plane, meter and shoot!
We wanted more than an empty beach for shot and looked around for a point of interest that would add a dimension to the “story.” There were several things that I liked about the bamboo sticks. I felt that they added a second point of interest to the “story” and I liked the juxtaposition of the straight lines of the sticks against the curves of Nikki’s body.
The image was captured with the Olympus E-10 digital camera on super high quality at the highest resolution and lowest compression jpeg setting. The image was imported into Adobe Photoshop and was immediately saved as a .psd file for further enhancement. Slight “body retouching” was accomplished by selecting an area, creating a new layer from the selection ( ctrl/command J ) and applying the pinch filter [in the “distort” filter drop down menu] at about 20%. Great care must be exercised with this filter because the effect can look unnatural very quickly. I then flattened the image and used the clone tool to clean up any extraneous image particles from the original layer. The image was enlarged using genuine fractals.
The image received an Award of Merit from the Professional Photographers of Los Angeles County.
Olympus E-10 digital camera