One thing I love about photography is...

...that behind every single piece, there is always a story.

A little mystery about how and why it was captured, edited, processed, and printed a certain way to fulfill and complete the photographer's initial vision.  

Black and white photograph of storm clouds above beach grass by Thomas Watkins

"Reeds and Sky" was taken years ago and remains one of my all-time favorite pieces. It was taken on a beach in North Carolina.

As soon as my family and I got out of the car my eye caught and locked on the tall grasses that were growing all along the beach where the sand ended.

The mid-morning sun was glistening off the grass like you'd expect it to reflect off water. The wind was strong. But gentle enough to sway the long grass without keeping it horizontal.

We had to walk past a fairly high cliff of about twenty five feet or so to get to the beach. And up on the top I saw this composition. Only at the time there were no clouds. Still, the light hitting the green grass coupled with the powder blue sky of the North Carolina coast made a wonderful color complement. Almost like something you'd see in a 1970's polaroid. Nostalgic, light in color saturation, but not quite faded.

I hurried to where we decided to set up on the beach and grabbed my camera. As I turned to leave I noticed the clouds rolling in. Suddenly, a new and more exciting idea came to my mind. If I wait, I can get those clouds behind the grass and create an even better composition. Luckily, the clouds were moving fast and I didn't have long to wait.

Now with this new image forming in my mind, I switched over to a telephoto lens. My plan was to compress the image to have everything on the same plane of focus. By bringing the clouds forward I essentially trick the eye in believing they were closer to the top of the hill than they actually were making them more prominent and imposing.

 I decide then and there that this piece was going to be processed as Black and White. By removing color you add drama, create visual weight to the clouds, and bring more attention to the highlights in the swaying grasses.

Equipment and exposure information

Canon 5D Mark III ~ iso 250

Canon 70 - 200mm f4 ~ 1/125 sec @ f11 

Canon RS - 80N3 ~ cable release

Slik Pro 700 DX ~ Tripod

Manfrotto XPRO ~ Ball Head