Keep working the scene: Iona Beach and Richmond Night Market Photography


Good morning everyone!

This post is going to be about what to do during those times where things aren’t working out the way you planned.

On Friday night I went with the family to the Richmond Night Market.  As it was still a bit earlier in the day we decided to go to Iona Beach first to have a stroll, play in the sand, and catch a sunset.   Richmond is a community located south of Vancouver, BC.  Iona was once an island, but is now a peninsula physically connected to Sea Island via a causeway and is immediately west of the Vancouver International Airport.  if you are an aviation enthusiast it is the perfect spot as planes take off and land directly overhead!

I decided to just bring my Fuji X100s as it is small, compact, and ideal for the street photography I was planning on doing at the Night Market later in the evening.

We arrived at the beach about an hour before sunset, with not a cloud in the sky.  While this sounds ideal, brilliant clear skies usually make for very boring sunsets.  Clouds, pollution, dust, particles…. these things hold the colour of the sun in the sky.  The light was coming in at a nice angle though:


I spent 10 or 20 minutes walking the beach trying to find the right frame for my sunset shot.  Another element that makes a great sunset photo is to have something interesting in the foreground… something to anchor the picture.  This led to problem number two….

The tide was not ideal, and there were very few interesting foreground elements to include in the picture.   I found this bird:


…but knew he wouldn’t stay around all night.

Camera Speak:  That perfect circle shaped glare is caused by the UV filter I usually have on my Fuji X100s by default.  The effect is kind of cool, but the filter was removed for the rest of the shoot.

I also found this old tree sticking up out of the sand.  As the sky was fairly boring  (no clouds, little colour) I tried adjusting my white balance and underexposing slightly to change the image:


I tried a vertical composition from a slightly different angle:


Ok, but still not what I was going for.  No great foreground elements, no clouds in the sky, sun getting low… time ticking away.

I switched my white balance back to daylight and recomposed to try a different frame:


That.  Is.  Photographic.  Lameness.  Right.  There.

I realized at this point that taking only my Fuji X100s with a fixed 35mm wide angle lens limited me a lot.   I had a photography instructor once tell me that when the whole scene is boring, shoot the details.  The great details in this frame are the birds on the beach backlit by the light.   Check out this crop from the above image:


I should have brought my Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 55-200mm telephoto lens.  That would have enabled me to shoot the interesting details (i.e. close ups of the birds) and maybe get something more interesting.

The sun was gone minutes after this and we started packing up to head for the Night Market.  I have learned, however, that it is a mistake to pack your camera away…. keep it in your hand until the moment you are in the car.

We walked back up the trail and along the path to the parking lot.  By this time it was quite dark, and as we were almost at the car I saw this:


Not quite a sunset, but finally an image I was happy with from the evening.  It reminds me of a Texas desert for some reason, rather than a beach in Canada.

Moral of the story:  Work the scene, try different things, bring the right gear, and don’t put it away until you are truly done.

Oh, and the Richmond Night Market?  Where else do you see things like this:





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