November 4, 2013 by Rob Hurlbut
Navy Helicopter Against A Coronado Sunset
The area around Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) on Coronado is always buzzing with helicopter activity. To the south of the base in Imperial Beach is the Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) so choppers are always flying around as training for pilots and Navy SEALs takes place. There is an area adjacent to the giant “Dinosaur Cage” where Navy personnel can be seen practicing combat exits from hovering helicopters, sliding down a rope to the beach below. Earlier this year they were training at sunset so it made for a great photo opportunity and a chance to test the limits of my camera.
Helicopter And A Sunset Made To Look Like A Moonset
When the sun is directly behind your subject there are two things you need to be aware of. The first is that your subject will be a silhouette and the second is that you need to be careful not to go blind from staring at the sun as you are setting up your shots! Obviously the sun is the brightest light source you will ever have to contend with so having it in your frame means you will most likely need to allow the minimum amount of light to reach your sensor as your camera will allow. For me, that meant using a shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second and a tiny f-stop of 32.
Navy SEAL Exits A Helicopter
Something that I hardly ever talk about is white balance. Yellow light looks warmer which is why the time around sunrise and sunset is referred to as “golden hour” and always has a nice warm feel. Blue light looks cooler and has more of a nighttime feel to it. By playing around with the white balance you can completely change the feel and mood of a photo. All three photos in this post were shot at sunset, but the middle one looks a little different. That’s because I adjusted the white balance to the blue end of the spectrum, robbing the sunset of it’s warm light which makes the setting sun look like a nighttime full moon. There are a lot of filters that people use to change the look of their photos, but as a person that grew up in the age of film photography, I prefer to stick with white balance adjustments, the ORIGINAL filter. Cheers!