All around the Canadian Rockies, forest fires fill the sky with smoke at this time of year, most of which are the inevitable result of the dry climate and spectacular lightning storms. Tonight the smoke from the fires drifted across the setting sun making stunning red stripes as it dipped toward the horizon, leaving me compelled to make an image. After doing so I thought of other sunsets that had me chasing an image without an associated landscape and decided I could add these to my series 5 page. It's surprising just how often we shoot the same thing and yet find great differences in that thing, sunset it seems, is no different. I also added a series of colourful garden birds to the existing collection, so click the link above and check out my small series project.
Very often when we find a photo location we quickly assess the scene and determine the 'ideal' conditions to make the best shot we can. Often this will be in the golden or blue hours owing to the beautiful light we find at those times and to be honest, the sunset image below does make a lovely shot of the summits. The moody grey clouds which I blurred in camera behind the illuminated rock, combine with the foreground shadow to really enhance the deep orange sunlight striking the summits.
I confess I felt I had made the best of this location when I made this image after several attempts at catching sunset here over a number of weeks. With this shot I thought I had finally hit it just right, and revisiting the image I am perhaps still of the same mind.
But while out chasing some storm photos last week I passed the location again and thought I would call in on the off chance. The three separate peaks make for excellent 'odds' and the foreground 'V' in the other mountains leave a perfect window beyond which a long ridge makes a great leading line to the left side summit creating depth.
Such a nice 'set up' will always produce an image for you in the right conditions, and as the storm clouds passed through I waited just 20 minutes or so to catch some beautiful light bursts through the clouds as they shrouded the right side summit.
So, always remember those incredible spots that produce an image for you, and return to them in different light to see if there is another shot to be had. If the 'set up' is good it's likely there'll be a few shots to be made from one location with just a change of light.
Some time ago I made an image of a zebra at Calgary zoo as part of a 52 week project I had set myself in an effort to be more creative. I really liked the way it turned out and thought it would make a nice series. The idea has floated around my head for some time and as I find myself housebound with injury this week I decided to make a start on my collections. I decided 5 shots would be enough for each topic and have posted two topics to begin the project. I'm already wondering what would be my third so I have no doubt more will follow.
Creating a series actually makes a nice little 'back pocket' project to help keep you interested during those lulls in work. It also forces you to consider other ways of shooting a topic you may have already shot many times. It also provides a topic that you are now always on the lookout for wherever you are shooting. You can find the Series 5 project here or anytime via the link in my Tips & More section in the tabs above.
My chosen image to accompany this post is one from my 'Tell it to the trees' series (which is the second series 5 posting). Taken in the giant redwoods of northern california it's a simple image to capture the texture and form of these spectacular leviathans.
Guiding a tour in Kananaskis last week in the very harsh light of the afternoon sun meant good photo opportunities were few and far between. At 2pm in summer the light is just too harsh for many subjects but it does provide potential for very fast shutter speeds which can help you isolate a subject that is well lit. When I spotted this small island in a mountain lake the sun was bearing down on it with full force yet the water around it was darkened by the reflected shade of the surrounding forest.
The light provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate this simple method of isolating a subject so I took out the 70-200mm lens, set the aperture to f3.5 and set the shutter speed faster than the 'correct exposure' suggested by the in camera exposure meter. (Obviously I couldn't take a reliable exposure reading from the island as it was in the middle of a lake) I ensured I was more than one stop 'underexposed' as doing so will always darken the shadows of an image but leave the well lit areas acceptable. I fired off a couple of handheld shots for demonstration purposes which, as you can see in the image below provided the result I had aimed for.
So, a good tip for the cold light of day is to find a bright target in a dark background and underexpose a little to really make it pop. In all honesty it's unlikely to produce a show stopping image in the middle of the afternoon, but it will definitely add to your knowledge archives and help you find the light in other conditions too.
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