On one of the days of our visit with our friends, the Deans, on Captiva Island, Florida, we took a day cruise on Pine Island Sound. Although there were any number of photo opportunities on the cruise, my favorites were of the sound's fish houses.
There is a little story behind these structures. It appears that when Hurricane Charley devastated the area 10 years ago, virtually all of the shacks were essentially blown away, leaving only the pilings. The local community government determined for some reason that the houses could not be rebuilt. But the owners realized that the costly part of the shacks were not their surface structures but the pilings on which they had been built and which were still intact. So, the story goes, within days, if not hours, the owners were out with the equipment and materials to rebuild the shacks on the same pilings, in defiance of the local government declaration.
The captain of the cruise took the boat past the shacks to give us a good look. From the point of view of ideal conditions, we would have come by on a calm day an hour or so before sunset to get the warm horizontal afternoon light and the reflections in the water, but that was not an option. Even so, I was able to get a few decent shots, all of them handheld on a moving boat, of course.
This first is typical of the fish houses. I had decided early on that, rather than having the houses fill the image, I wanted to provide a significant space around the them to create some context.
It was mid-afternoon and there was fairly decent light bathing the west side of this house. I also liked the pier work extending to the west. It was a bright day, and I had my camera set at f/8 with an ISO of 100 for all of the shots. The shutter speed was fast enough, ranging from 1/400 to 1/640 second, to take the boat's motion out of the equation.
The most photogenic of the houses was a red one that apparently was the only house that actually survived Hurricane Charley intact. Here's a photo of the red house, together with one of its neighbors.
I also turned this shot into a black & white.
And here's a photo of the red house by itself.
I liked this composition better than the one above, perhaps because of the pier work extending to the right. My only quibble is that I wish there had been just a bit more room between the little ancillary structure on the left (outhouse?) and the edge of the image. I tried this image as a black & white, but then, of course, I lost the building's distinctive red color. My solution in post processing was to ramp up the saturation on the red but to minimize the saturation on all the other colors. Here is the result.
I don't try to do this sort of thing often--usually too much work. But here it seemed to come out OK as a novelty shot.
Here is another house that I thought worked best as a black & white.
Finally, I realized that the best shots were those that posed the sun more or less behind the houses rather than behind me. The reason was not how this arrangement illuminated the houses but how it reflected off the water. The next shot, my favorite of the bunch, illustrates this, I think.
Not only did having the sun in front of the camera serve to brighten the water, it gave it a soft texture that contrasted with the harder lines of the houses. The result was a cloud-like feel, as if the houses were somehow floating between the sky and the water. This effect shows up best, I think, as a black & white.