As our last photo shoot before Kathryn returned to her home province in the Maritimes, we went back to where it all began — the beach. Not the same beach, mind you, that we met on in 2011 (photos from that shoot are currently offline). Nor the beach we made photos at in 2013. Nor, also, the beach we made photos at in 2016. No, this 2021 photo shoot was at an entirely new beach for both of us, though things didn’t go quite as planned.
With pandemic restrictions still in full swing, we learned much too late that the beach we originally planned on visiting (at Sandbanks Provincial Park) required online reservations be made months in advance. We didn’t learn this until we showed up and were rejected entry. This, despite the fact that it was the end of the day (we love a good sunset photo shoot), and that the parking lot was half empty because everyone who had reserved had already left. There was no risk of overcrowding, but they simply wouldn’t let us in. We decided to weigh the odds of sneaking in. It was easy to park in the designated lot without being seen, but the fine for parking our car without the requisite permit was much too great to risk.
The light was fading fast. I’d already driven over three hours that day and didn’t want to waste all that time to end up with no photos. I popped open Google Maps and started exploring our nearest options. There were other beaches a short distance away, but unfortunately all with the same reservation restrictions. 40 minutes away, which was a bit of a stretch if we were gonna make it before sunset, was an unmarked strip of sand. I zoomed in on the satellite view. It looked like a beach. A pretty big one, even. But it was nameless. It didn’t have a label on Google Maps. No name. Nothing. Was it even accessible? How close could we get to it by driving? Should we take a chance?
After parking at the end of a dead end road, we walked about 100 metres and found a beautiful, unpopulated, fairly pristine beach. There were no signs that gave this beach a name. There were no other people around. It was amazing! A secret beach! But we only had about 35 minutes until the sun hit the horizon, and, if we were lucky, another 5–10 minutes of post-sunset light after that. We had to hurry.
This was also one of the first times I was putting my new Nikon Z 6II camera [check price on Amazon] through its paces, and testing its autofocus on a moving subject. Kathryn went for a stroll down the beach and the Z 6II tracked her without any issues. Just as the F-mount 85mm ƒ/1.8G was my favourite lens for my D750, the NIKKOR Z 85mm ƒ/1.8 S [check price on Amazon] is definitely my favourite lens for the Z system cameras.
Kathryn’s always been an athletic gal — currently she’s super into rock climbing. So I thought swimwear with a bit of an athletic flair would be appropriate here, and for some reason this bikini from Zaful just looked “sporty” to me. Perhaps it’s the contrasting colour scheme. I’m not sure. But it worked.
I also tested the NIKKOR Z 35mm ƒ/1.8 S lens [check price on Amazon] for these photos. Nikon’s Z lens offerings are all insanely good. I was impressed. Perhaps somewhat foolishly, I also decided this was a good time to bust out my brand new Godox AD300 Pro [check price on Amazon] for one of its first tests as well. This ate up a bit of time to get setup, but I like the results. I’ve previously used Alien Bees gear for my entire photography career, but I’ve recently transitioned to Godox for a couple main reasons:
- Wireless triggers built in to everything. No longer do I have to worry about separate triggers, batteries, etc.
- Portability. Alien Bees were great, but on the bulky side, and required an external battery to use outside the studio.
- Modifier size. While Godox has embraced the Bowens mount for their system, which is no different in size compared to Alien Bees, certain lights like the Godox AD300 Pro and AD400 Pro [check price on Amazon] also have Godox’s own proprietary mount which is significantly smaller. This means the modifiers themselves take up a lot less space when travelling.
With the sun having vanished by this point, we only had a few minutes left of post-sunset glow to snap the last photos. I put away the Godox and used natural light here.
Right after we were done and had packed up, a young girl wandered on to the beach and asked if we were there to watch the stars. We replied that we were not, and we asked if she was doing the same. She also said she was not, and that she was just there to enjoy the beach with her family. At 9pm. In total darkness. Cool. Weird kid.