How will you represent what you feel? Pre-Visualize your image

As you are shooting, imagine your final image. What do you see and feel? How will you represent that?

A common jellyfish in sand
A Moon Jelly found on the surf line in Kitty Hawk, NC. The receding wave, rushing around the beached jellyfish, carved the V-shaped pattern in the sand. A moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) is also called a moon jellyfish, saucer jellyfish, or common jellyfish. The tentacles of the moon jellyfish are poisonous for small marine animals, but people are not affected by the toxin since it does not penetrate the skin.

I bring a camera with me on my fitness walks, never knowing quite what I’ll find. One recent July evening, near my Outer Banks home, the beach was strewn with jellyfish. Certain tides will wash up these creatures, commonly called “moon jellies,” a harmless variety, about 3 inches in diameter. The nearly clear, button-like creatures often appear jewel-like reflecting the sunlight.

As I walked, I noticed how the receding waves would sweep sand in a V-pattern around the jellyfish it deposited a moment before. The next wave would sweep out the jellyfish, disperse the sand pattern from the previous wave, and strand another moon jelly. This gave me an endless variety of subjects to photograph!

I noticed the texture of the grains of sand, and how it contrasted with the smooth skin of the jellyfish. I enjoyed finding well defined V-shapes left in the sand. I imagined highlighting those features to visually share them with others. I wanted a viewer to feel the sand, be sparkled by the light on the jellyfish, and to be swept along with the sand. Everything was sand colored, but I imagined that presenting this vision in contrasty black and white would allow me to share the sensory experience.

I chose the preset in Nik Silver Efex Pro that came close to what I imagined, then tweaked to fine tune the effect. I added a slight warm tone to emulate the warm sand on this summer evening.

I succeeded in recording what was in my mind’s eye as I made the image. Not a literal presentation, but interpretive. As I pre-visualized.

Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300/3.5-5.6 @ 300mm, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 3600, 45 minutes before sunset, hand held.

The unprocessed image:

Jellyfish on the sand, unprocessed image.
Jellyfish on the beach, straight out of camera, before I applied the processing that matched how I pre-visualized the image.