Sailboats on San Diego Bay – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

I wanted to continue the theme of “cropping” pictures from last weeks “Photo Excerpts” blog. The backdrop this week is sailboats on San Diego Bay. I thought these shots would display great examples of how to take a “blah” photo and by cropping it, turn it into a “wow” photo. I added one more element to this week’s example; the finished photographs are done in black and white. There is a method to my madness in that I am using real examples of a project I just completed for a client.

A client of mine from Southern California has a series of black and white prints I did for them last year. They are getting ready to add a new series of prints to another wall and know that I have done a lot of photography around San Diego. This client asked if I had any black and white shots of sailboats on San Diego Bay in the same size ratio that was purchase in their other series. As I always do, I started digging through the archives and found the original shots I have attached. In looking at these shots, it’s clear why I had not done anything with them, they are pretty boring. The good news is that I knew I had done that series in RAW format, which gives me a very high resolution, so I knew I could play with cropping them to focus on the sailboats.

Sailboat 1

Sailboat 1

This first shot is the original photograph. You have two sailboats in the right of the frame with the Coronado Bridge in the background, which connects the mainland with Coronado Island. Again, I am working with a specific size ratio in these particular cropping’s, so they are all consistent with the original series purchased.

Sailboat 2

Sailboat 2

The second shot is the cropped version and in black and white. What a huge difference. This shot tells a story with the sailboats as the focal point. The sky has been cropped to less prominence and most of the background noise in the left side of the frame has been eliminated. As a side note: If I wasn’t working to a specific size ratio for this project, I would have instinctively cropped this shot into a square to keep the sailboats more prominent. But that said, by cropping it this way it is works better in the series the client was interested in.

Sailboat 3

Sailboat 3

The third shot is more sailboats with the Coronado Bridge in the background. The cropping involved reducing the sky and water to bring the sailboats into the center frame, resulting in the fourth shot.

Sailboat 4

Sailboat 4

Sailboat 5

Sailboat 5

In the fifth picture, we have a group of three sailboats lost in the left side of the frame.

Sailboat 6

Sailboat 6

The final shot shows them commanding the picture by eliminating the same sky and excess water, but in this one there was too much unneeded noise in the right side of the frame.

The series as a whole comes out balanced and consistent. Each shot has been taken from a “blah” shot to a photograph of sailboats dominating the scene and creating a visual story. Thoughts?


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7 thoughts on “Sailboats on San Diego Bay – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

  1. Sue Slaght

    I am scouring this post like a sponge. Thank you for taking the time to explain the process and giving the visual examples. This is truly very helpful and I appreciate it very much Kirt. The end products are excellent by the way. 🙂


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