iPhone 6 first HDR sunset photograph example Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida

The iPhone makes for a great always with you photography device.  The camera in each successive iPhone model is supposed to be markedly better than the previous one.  Having pre-ordered and received an iPhone 6 on launch day, I was excited to see how much better its camera (two generations newer than my iPhone 5) was.  I was at Pass-A-Grille Beach at the southern tip of St. Petersburg and was treated to a great sunset view.  I made one photograph using the regular single exposure mode in the standard Phone app and then another photo right after using HDR mode.  Sunsets are great for HDR as the sky is often much brighter than the foreground, however, there was little difference in the single exposure and HDR iPhone 6 photographs.  The HDR one did produce a little better detail around the sun, but not enough in the rocks in the foreground.  

This was just one test of a particular photography situation, but a very common one, and overall I disappointingly did not see much difference from past iPhone 5 shots.  I will be testing out more shots using both the default Camera app and the pay Camera+ app on the iPhone 6.

Wide Panorama of Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida Fine Art Photography

Click for 2000px version - 5 shot panorama of Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida available for commercial license & fine art printOn the same stormy evening I photographed the kiteboarder out on Pass-A-Grille Beach I made this 5-shot panorama of the beach as empty as you will ever see it.  This shot was made handheld which is surprisingly not hard to keep aligned if you have a grid view inside your DSLR's viewfinder.  I put the lower third of the gridline in the viewfinder straight on the horizon allowing me to make the shot without the tripod.  What I had to watch for was leaving enough overlap (about 1/3 of a frame) so that Photoshop could work its stitching magic with its Photomerge automation.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is one of my favorite spots in all of Tampa Bay as it represents the very tip of the main Gulf Blvd beaches in Pinellas County.  It definitely has a "land's end" feel to it, especially at a time like this after a storm at twilight.

Kiteboarding at Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida in Stormy Skies

Kiteboarding at Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida - unusual settings needed - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/2.8 ISO 800 1/500thPass-A-Grille Beach exists at the very southern end of all the gulf beaches of Pinellas County on Gulf Blvd.  It is a quiet place, especially in February.  It is a very quiet place in February just after a storm passes by.  The length of the sandy beach was empty.  The only other human around was floating out above the water kiteboarding under stormy skies.

Kiteboarder floating over Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/2.8 ISO 800 1/500thAs is usual when walking around with my DSLR, I had only one lens with me.  I knew before I left the house the types of photographs I wanted to make, so I brought the appropriate lens for that job, my Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens.  However, this meant when I saw the kiteboarder I could only make wide sweeping shots in which the kiteboarder himself appeared but as a speck.  I felt limited by that then, but now I realize I would not have wanted to make the shots any other way because the story of these shots was largely in the storm itself.  Showing the kiteboarder in the context of the weather was more dramatic than if I had made tight actions shots of him in flat light.

Kiteboarder zooming against the wind at Pass-A-Grille Beach FloridaIf you are looking for a quiet place to just "be," then I highly recommend Pass-A-Grille Beach for its forgottenness, it's end of the land feeling and for its sweeping views of the Gulf.  If you go there in winter, after a storm, you might see someone with a dog and a camera passing you by.  

Guitarist Promotional Materials & Album Cover Shoot Pass-A-Grille Beach Part 2

Commercial Photography for guitarist promotion - f/9 ISO 200 1/250th SB-800 to frame right SB-600 to frame left

A grainy, holga, look is what guitarist Nathan (artist name Redd Sun) told me he wanted for the edited versions of the photographs I made for him during our commercial photography shoot on Pass-A-Grille Beach.  I kept that information in mind the whole time I was shooting, despite the setting sun providing a plethora of color in the wide Florida sky that evening.  The grainy look is one of the things that interested me most about this shoot because 99% of the time when shooting on the beach vivid color shots are desired.  I saw this as an opportunity to produce something different, something . . . simpler.

Commercial Photography for guitarist promotion - f/4 ISO 200 1/400th natural lightAfter seeing the results of this shoot, I may do an entire series of black & white beach shots.  The holga effect was applied to the above photograph using the awesome Silver Efex Pro, which if you do not have it and you like black & white, then you need to get Silver Efex Pro immediately!

Commercial Photography for musician promotion - f/4 ISO 200 1/400th natural lightI centered the subject (Nathan) much more than I normally would during this shoot because I knew that type of composition best lent itself to the holga effect with its harsh vertical edge burning.  This is why it is always very important to previsualize a shot, or a whole shoot even, before pressing the shutter.

Guitarist Promotional Materials & Album Cover Shoot Pass-A-Grille Beach Part 1

Guitarist Musician Promo Shoot - Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida Commercial Photography

To state it simply, this was one of the best shoots I have ever done, in all aspects.  Nathan (artist name Redd Sun) contacted me about making some photographs for use as his own promotional materials for his music as he liked the style of this vanishing point photograph.  The photographs in this post are obviously not that style, rather these are my own favorites from the shoot.  In post Part 2 I will put the shots Nathan chose edited in the grainy style he requested.  

What made this shoot one of the best, if not the best, for me was how Nathan wanted to be photographed.  He told me at the start that he did not want any poses or anything like that.  Of course I specialize in candid style so this was perfect for me.  He then said just photograph him as he changed his guitar strings and then as he played.  This could not have been more ideal instructions for me.  The bonus was I got to listen to his guitar playing while shooting, which I really believe helped me capture the types of shots he wanted.  Normally I just shoot in silence.  This gives me the idea to bring along a music source of some kind for future shoots.

Guitarist Musician Promo Shoot - natural light portrait on Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg FloridaI (we) was also lucky in that the Pass-A-Grille Beach was not that crowded, there was a great sunset and the natural light before sunset time was fantastic (see above natural light photograph).  This natural light allowed me to roam freely with my preferred Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens on my Nikon D300.

Guitarist profile shot for promotional materials - Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida commercial photographyOf course I also used my own personally developed two-strobe setup for proper sunset shots.  Even in the above shot, however, the photograph remained a candid as Nathan seemed to not notice me setup my lights around him and just kept on playing.

Guitarist silhouette promotional shot - Pass-A-Grille Beach St. Petersburg Florida commercial photographyEven though we were at basically the same location for the entire one-hour shoot due to the ability to make both natural light and strobist shots, as well as using three different lenses, I was able to provide Nathan with a wide variety of shot styles.  

I really look forward to seeing how Nathan uses the photographs in his promotional materials.  Part 2 of this photo shoot, to come soon.

Warm Pass-A-Grille Florida Winter Sunset HDR

Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida sunset - Nikon D300 f/11 ISO 200 5-bracket HDRAs I sit here in shorts & a t-shirt with all the windows of my apartment open, and the ceiling fan on, let me extend a welcome to everyone who is perhaps suffering from a less palatable winter to visit the tranquil & warm Pass-A-Grille Beach at the very tip of St. Petersburg, Florida.  This beach is a great escape, with just the right mix of available entertainment and solitude.  Plus, how cool will it be to tell your friends & family you visited a place called "Pass-A-Grille?"

If you do visit this lovely place, please consider preserving your memories with professional beach photography.  I offer several candid portrait packages for families or individuals.  What would look better than a photo of you (and your family/friends) printed on a beautiful canvas gallery wrap hanging on your wall to remind you of Florida's warmth the next time a snow storm makes going outside just an impossible thought. 

Pass-A-Grille Sunset Wedding in St Petersburg

Silhouette shots are VERY rare for me -- Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/1250thOne reason I think I have come to like Pass-A-Grille Beach at the tip of St. Petersburg so much is because I had never been there before in my previous Florida life.  It is still very new to me.  I like that it is at the tip of the Pinellas County peninsula too.  The end of the line, not built up, not crowded, somewhat forgotten.  It stands in opposition to the horror of Clearwater Beach.  

Such was the scene for the last beach wedding of the year for me to photograph.  Jennifer and John were a jovial couple, not ones to stare deep into the camera, but rather engage in playfulness as I, seemingly unaware to them, photographed them from various distances, such as the above silhouette shot.  This type of image is a staple of sunset photography (because it is dead easy to make).  Perhaps this is why I have basically never made a professional silhouette shot before this one as I try for very complex dual-strobe light sunset shots offering clients a uniquely creative image.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/100th Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to left & SB-600 on tripod to rightThe above shot is more my own "typical" sunset beach wedding shot.  A two-strobe setup showing the vivid colors provided by west coast Florida sunsets.  I suggested to John and Jennifer they do "the dip" and this was the result!  This attempt provided the best smiles of the evening.  For the record, Jennifer was never in any real danger of falling into the water.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/100th Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to left SB-600 on tripod to rightAfter "the dip" I suggested Jennifer have some of her own solo camera time.  I believe John was doing something behind me to keep Jennifer laughing.  I asked her to hold out her flowing dress, which made for a rather princess-like shot I would say.

Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 to left SB-600 to rightI am a big fan of the couple looking out to the Sea shot.  No doubt this is because I, myself, was born looking out to the Sea by instinct.  Therefore, it is only natural that I produce photographs that I would want of myself.  Maybe this is what every photographer does?  And since we all like different things, this creates different styles among photographers despite the fact we all use very similar photography equipment and shoot at similar locations.  My purpose with the above shot for John & Jennifer is for them to look upon this photograph in 2030 and try and remember what they were thinking at, to try to remember what they say that evening looking upon the horizon

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