Behind the Photo No. 3 — Sunset at Venice Skatepark

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Technical Data

Who doesn’t love a day of sun in California?

While shooting a short video about skateboarding lifestyle with Donny Hixson and his partner Danielle I had the opportunity to shoot this photo as the sun went down over the brilliant sunset at Venice Beach. The skatepark here is one of the most revered in the world and is the epicentre of skate culture. As a photographer this is a great place to spend the afternoon shooting as there is a ton of visual opportunity, and a seemingly endless pool of talent all in one spot. The scenery looking over Venice Beach is something to dream about also.

For this photo I was shooting another project exclusively on the Sony a6500 and was curious what it could do. It was one of my first serious outings with a mirrorless camera, and the size and features of the package were appealing. I managed to shoot an entire series of video documentary interviews using only:

  • Sony a6500

  • three different Canon lenses

  • Sigma adaptor

  • Tascam DR-10L Recorder

  • Manfrotto Be-Free Video Tripod

  • EVO Rage-S Gimbal

While there were many other ways to configure the gear package for this, and I have since refined my “carry-on documentary kit,” it was interesting to see what worked and what didn’t work with the kit. You can read more about that here.

In terms of this photo, the Sony a6500 holds up quite well. Using the 35mm f2.0 IS Canon lens effectively gave this a focal length of 52mm which made for nice portraits and interview footage, but was a little tight for shooting wider shots. Thankfully there is plenty of room to maneuver at the skatepark and the opportunity existed to utilize the space.

The Sony RAW format allowed for decent manipulation of the image in post production allowing for a richer saturation of the sunset colours, and also additional contrast to create a more silhouetted look.

Overall I love the size of the a6500 and it is not to be written-off the serious camera page. This was my stepping stone into mirrorless photography and I have since moved up to the Sony A7R III, but keep the Sony a6500 as my second camera.

From a less gear oriented standpoint, Venice Skatepark is the perfect opportunity to explore some creative opportunities. There are plenty of good angles and lighting options to play around with throughout the day, but more importantly there are relatively willing people. Talk to some people, build some rapport, and shoot away. It’s always nice to offer up some photos to the people who are helping to make them, and much less creepy to shoot photos of strangers if you actually have a chat with them.