The Marina

Photography Example - The Marina

Photography Example - The Marina

I want to tell you a little bit about the background of this photo because I consider it a good example of making something out of nothing.


I happened to be at a hotel on Table Rock Lake, outside of Branson, Missouri, called Château on the Lake. We were driving from our home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas to St. Louis Missouri, where I am from, to visit my family for the holidays. I got up early to take some photos around the lake. I was having no luck because it was winter and everything was dead. I saw a sign for the marina and decided to head down there as I like photographing boats.

When I got to the marina it was mostly empty. There was, however, one sailboat and I spent some time photographing it. I took many pictures of it, and it took some time, because I was using a neutral density filter and taking long exposures. During this time, the thought of photographing the marina itself never occurred to me.

In fact, I was packed up and about to head back to the hotel without ever having taking a photograph of the marina. I looked back and liked what I saw in the sky. I got out my camera again and was still not thinking about photographing the marina itself. At some point however, I stumbled into it and stepped off a few shots.

Even when I got home and began going through my pictures I thought nothing of the marina shot. I was still focused on the shots of the sailboat. It wasn’t until I was playing around with the picture in Lightroom that I began to see something in it.

This is the sailboat shot I was originally after.
This is the sailboat shot I was originally after.

I write all of this just so you can see how the sausage is sometimes made, so to speak.

  • There is no flash of lightning when you find a composition you like that ultimately results in a nice picture. You may not even know it is a nice picture until later.
  • Further, the picture you get might not be the one you are after. Sometimes you have to adjust your thinking.
  • And finally, we need to acknowledge the role of plain dumb luck. But you cannot get lucky unless you get out of bed with your camera at 6:00 AM.

I realize I am going on about this picture like it should be hanging in a gallery, and that is not the case. I am simply trying to show you how you can sometimes get nice shots when you do not expect it or see them coming.

Exposure Settings

  • Shutter Speed: 1/80
  • Aperture: f/10
  • ISO: 200
  • Focal Length: 24 mm
  • Camera: Canon 5D mark ii
  • Lens: Canon 24-105 mm f/4

I was hand holding this shot. Why? No good reason. I had already put away my tripod and didn’t feel like getting it back out.

That hand holding resulted in the settings you see above. I wanted to keep the shutter speed reasonably fast to avoid any camera shake. I realize that, shooting with a focal length of 24 mm, I had some room to use a slower shutter speed per the Reciprocal Rule, but I like to keep it faster than that anyway to avoid any sharpness issues. As a result, my shutter speed was 1/80th of a second.

I kept the ISO at 200, which is sort of a default setting for me. That resulted in an aperture of f/10 to get a proper exposure. Quite frankly, that’s a little bit larger of an aperture than I would have liked to use. I would like for the aperture to be about f/16 to create a maximum depth of field. Still, after consulting the hyperfocal distance charts, even when focusing at 6 feet in front of the camera everything from that point all the way to infinity will be in sharp.



This photo was substantially enhanced using Topaz Clarity. That is where much of the color was added and also how it was brightened.

I came to use Clarity on the recommendation of a reader. A guy named Frank Villafane had reached out and we traded emails about photography. I really liked the clean look of his photographs, and I asked him how he got it. He recommended Clarity. I tried it out and liked it. In some cases, it works wonders. It did here. Check out the original photo (and it wasn’t much better coming out of Lightroom):


Categorized as Locations