It never ceases to amaze me what I find along the beach in the morning. From old fossils washed up, to pieces of shipwrecks, beautiful shells, and even wildlife. This particular morning, I was heading south along the foreshore of the beach running late for the North Carolina Maritime History Symposium in Corolla. We really don’t get much fog around these parts rolling in from the ocean, but on this occasion a mass of warm water had broken off from the Gulf Stream and drifted ashore. With this warm water, came a clarity to the sea. Southwest winds tend to blow sand into the surf. If the Gulf Stream is in however, the aquamarine hues of subtropical waters prevail and the ambiance of the whole place seems to change.
Driving along the foreshore, I thought I saw movement in the fog ahead. It was there and then it wasn’t. Nebulosa of the fog if you will. I continued on for another moment before the ghost appeared again. Only this time, it became quite apparent that this was no ghost at all, but instead, a member of our herd of wild horses here.
Late or not, I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. Wild horse, ocean, fog, sunrise, yes.
I had my 24-70 hooked up to the D5 sitting next to me. No time to change lenses. In Ansel Adams like fashion, it was simply a matter of making due with the lens I had on.
Thus, I composed a landscape with the sunrise burning through the fog, and the roll of the ocean waves coming ashore. F/16 for depth. 1/250th for speed. ISO 200. From here, it was simply a matter of waiting for this wild stallion to come ambling along into the composition.
I designed the whole thing on a very basic rule of thirds type grid. Horse and sun at roughly opposite intersection points. The shorter lens gave me a grander scene. If I had used my 200-400, which is usually my go to wild horse lens, all of this would have been quite different. The image would have been tighter with the silhouette of the horse dominating the composition. But with the shorter focal lengths, the composition is more expansive. It more properly captures the mood and feeling of the morning.
In wildlife photograph, we use big lenses only when we have to – NOT as a matter of principle. Quite frankly, its often a better approach to shoot with the shortest lens possible to create the type of image you envision. Think short then work up to long when trying to pre-visualize the composition you want.