Boats on a Gray Day in Penang

After to going to Hong Kong for fun, I was in Penang Malaysia for work. Most of my time was there for business and I didn’t really plan any photo shooting outings. Most evenings, when I made it back to the hotel, it was dark or raining or both anyway. But, one evening I was out to dinner at a restaurant on a tall hill and there was a nice sunset. The only camera I had available was my iPhone, which did OK. Below is the sunset over the Malacca Straight.

Sunset in Penang Malaysia
iPhone 8

The hotel where I was staying was on Gurney Dr. and at the other end there is an area of the shore that is accessible and there are several fishing boats floating close to shore. On Saturday I was up before dawn and wanted to go down to this place for a sunrise photo with all of the fishing boats in the water, but it was raining and I wasn’t willing to walk and take pictures in the rain.

Later in the day, it was still very cloudy but the rain had stopped. I decided that I could walk down to this location and try to do something black and white with the layers of clouds in the sky and the mountains across the water in the distance.  So, I packed up my tripod and camera gear and walked down to this place and scouted around for some composition ideas.

My first attempt was from a sidewalk several feet above and overlooking the shoreline. It was positioned such that I could get all of the boats in the water with the mountains of the mainland off in the distance. I put on the ND filter to get an 8 second exposure to smooth the water out a bit. It was very calm and I didn’t think that I would get much motion blur in the boats. Below is the final edited image.

Boats along the shore in Penang Malaysia
Nikon D750 + 16-35mm, f/4; 26mm, f/16, 8s, ISO100

I imported this image into Lightroom and found that I could probably have increased the exposure to 16 seconds and been fine. I judged the initial shot based on the histogram in camera, which I believe is the JPG preview histogram and doesn’t include as much data as the RAW histogram. But, 8 seconds gave me some calm water and I was able to bump up the exposure by about +2 in Lightroom. I set it to black and white and applied lens correction. I then put a graduated filter over the sky to reduce the exposure and increase the contrast so that I could really bring out the clouds. I also added some dehaze to deepen the image a bit. I am pretty happy with the resulting image.

Below is what it would have looked like without the long exposure. I prefer the long exposure as it adds calmness to the image.

Boats along the shore in Penang Malaysia
Nikon D750 + 16-35mm, f/4; 32mm, f/16, 1/80s, ISO100

Down in the sand at the water’s edge, there were some features that I wanted to use for a different composition. One thing that I thought might be interesting were the ropes leading out into the water. I thought that this might provide a decent leading line out to the boats and the horizon beyond. I got the tripod down low to make the ropes large in the foreground and exaggerate the perspective. See the image below.

Boats along the shore in Penang Malaysia
Nikon D750 + 16-35mm, f/4; 16mm, f/16, 1/125s, ISO100

While the ropes do provide the leading line, they did restrict where I could point the camera as I think that the ropes need to be leading toward the center of the frame. This put the part of the shoreline with the buildings in the background, which I didn’t really want. Also, bringing the camera down low reduced the angle that I had with the water and the boats kind of pile up behind each other in the photo. So, I don’t think that this composition worked as well as the first one.

I also tried long exposure from this vantage point, but the motion blur of the boats was much worse from this angle. There were some other rocks and ropes that I experimented with, but none of this really worked for me. I am pretty happy with the long exposure black and white photo of the boats, so it was not a disappointment.

Now I am back home and it is time to come up with some more photo shooting ideas. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below.

 

 

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