Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


New Landscape Photography: San Onofre Beach at Sunset

Sunset at San Onofre Beach

Sunset at San Onofre Beach
4" at f/25, Fuji Velvia 50, Lee 3-stop grad ND + Lee 1-stop grad ND
Click Image for Larger View

Last month a friend of mine and I went for a sunset shoot at San Onofre Beach in Southern CA. I'm generally a "lone wolf" when it comes to doing landscape photography because I enjoy the solitude, but Eric and I are very much simpatico when it comes to style, methodology, and philosophy (check out Eric Bryan's amazing photography at

San Onofre Beach is unlike any other in Southern California. You won't find long stretches of white sandy beaches here. Much of the beach is riddled with smooth, round boulders the size of...uh, I dunno, like a volleyball but a little smaller. I clearly know nothing about sports...

But anyway, this beach is gorgeous and generally empty. Not exactly easy to navigate this rocky shore, but the views are unbeatable. And looking inland, the shore is flanked by some stately red-sand cliffs that are quite breathtaking under sunset light.

On this shoot, I opted for the wide 6x17 format using Fuji Velvia 50 film. Now I gotta be honest...the photos are a little too dark for my liking. It's partly that I just overestimated how dark I wanted it to be, but here's the thing about Velvia 50 film: it's rated at ISO 50, but it really isn't 50. Based on my experiments and analyzation, I need to rate it more like ISO 33 or 25 in order to get accurate metering. I did ISO 33 here. I should have done 25.

And here's the other thing: my Nikkor SW 90mm f/4.5 lens exhibits some serious light falloff at the edges. Every wide angle lens on 6x17 format does. And I didn't have a center ND filter for this evening's shoot. That meant the edges came out much darker than I anticipated. The center of the frame looks spot on in regards to exposure, but the edges came out too dark. And since Velvia 50 is so contrasty, that 1 to 1-1/3 stops of light falloff at the edges looks major.

Sunset at San Onofre Beach

Post-Sunset at San Onofre Beach
20" at f/22, Fuji Velvia 50, Lee 3-stop grad ND
Click Image for Larger View

I overestimated on my metering, I used a little too much split ND, I should have rated the film at ISO 25, I needed a center ND filter. Excuses excuses. Oh well. I'll do better next time. And I just picked myself up a sweet center ND filter off eBay to remedy the light falloff issue. It was a steal at $275. Center ND filters are ridiculously expensive. They usually run about $400-$500 used.

The composition could use some improvement, too. But it's time to stop flogging myself. The photos are actually pretty solid. I'm happy with them. It's just that inner photography teacher coming out of me.

The shot at top was made right as the sun dipped to the horizon. The second image was a little after sunset. Please click the images for larger views. These images are pointless unless you can see all the details.

Online Photography Course Free Previews

Free Online Photography Course PreviewsIn an effort to help students make the right choice when it comes to finding the best online photography courses for them, I'm now offering FREE PREVIEWS of all of my online courses!

You can download a weekly lesson guide from each of my online photography classes and view one video presentation from each of the 6-week classes - all for FREE. No email address or credit card required. Just download and enjoy!

But that's not all, I've also instituted a new Satisfaction Guarantee. Enroll in one of my online photography courses or one of my course discount packages and if you're not completely satisfied with the quality of the course(s) within the first week, I'll refund your enrollment fee (see full details and restrictions here).

Introduction to DSLR Photography
Photography basics for the beginner photographer
Free Preview | Course Information

How to Shoot in Full Manual
Manual photography for DSLR cameras
Free Preview | Course Information

Macro & Close-Up Photography
Macro photography for all skill levels
Free Preview | Course Information

Filters for Nature Photography
An in-depth course all about photography filters
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Composition for Dramatic Landscapes
Learn how to improve your landscape photography
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So give my courses a "test drive" before you enroll. Make sure that I'm the right teacher for you. See if you like my teaching style. I think you'll find that my courses contain some of the clearest explanations around and that I put more information in my classes than most other providers.

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I hope to see you in class!

Should You Get a Camera Protection Plan?

Camera Protection PlanI'd have to lose all this gear more than once every 10 years
for a camera protection plan to be worth it.

Every now and then I get asked about a camera protection plan. You know, one of those photography insurance policies that covers against mechanical failure, natural disaster, fire, theft, accidental damage, meteors, sun flares, and the apocalypse.

I don’t have one.

I’m not a fan of investing in a camera protection plan. I think the customer will almost never come out ahead with one. How can they? After all, the insurance company is in business. They aren’t in business because they’re sending out big checks to their clients. And not only are the insurance companies coming out ahead, they’re coming out way ahead. Insurance companies are hugely profitable and their product is pretty much just peace of mind - it’s not even a product you can use!

Here’s another dead giveaway that these insurance policies and extended warranties are a rip: the people selling them really want you to buy. You don’t peddle products that hard unless the profit margins are huge. I swear there are more commercials for Geico Insurance on TV than every other commercial from every other company combined. They really want your business. They want it because it’s easy money.

Alright, alright. Maybe I’m being a little unfair. Not all insurance is bad. Auto insurance is good.’s good so long as you aren’t the one who made the mistake.

Okay, forget my logical idealistic embittered views on insurance. Let’s look at it logically.

A camera protection plan will cost you around 10% of the coverage cost per year. In other words, if you want to protect your $1,500 camera, you can expect to pay about $150 per year. So that means you’d have to lose or accidentally destroy your camera at least once every 10 years just to break even.

So what are the odds you’ll need to file a claim more than once every 10 years? I’m betting the odds are actually much, much lower than you think. People baby their gear. When you spend that much money on a camera, you tend to not be careless with it.

I’ve been shooting for 13 years and I’ve had the same DSLR for 7 years with nary a problem. I’ve never even come close to losing or destroying any single item in my collection. If I’d insured all my gear over that 13-year period, I’d be a sucker. And if I wanted to start insuring my gear now, I’d need to file 2 claims before the 20-year mark! I’m afraid I’m just not that careless!

So I say “play the odds.” What are the odds you’ll need to make a claim for the full value of the camera in a 10-year period? Looking back at your life, how many claims would you have made in the past 10 years? 20 years? 30 years...?

Be realistic about this camera protection plan stuff. Don’t let your fears dictate your decision. Let logic guide you.

Besides, you know how insurance companies work. It’s lots of fear mongering and promises in the beginning, but when it comes time to file a claim, oh you can bet they’ll find a reason you’re not covered for that kind of damage.

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