Good Light Hunting in the heart of colorado
No doubt everyone knows that light is the single most important component in creating a photograph. There are basically two broad light categories in photography; natural and controlled lighting. The latter, as it suggests, is predictable and is used in studios or as a supplement to outdoor illumination. Natural light, on the other hand, is arguably not controllable so keeping an eye on weather forecasts, etc. is, not only helpful but a necessity.
I'm always at the mercy of whatever Mother Nature doles out.
Because my concentration at the moment is landscape photography, I'm always at the mercy of whatever Mother Nature doles out. What makes things even more unpredictable is that I'm constantly on the move from state to state.
The first thing I do when I arrive at a new location is use my iPhone to figure out a few basic things. For weather forecasts, I've found the AccuWeather app to be the most helpful, particularly for predicting fog. Everyone has their own favorite weather app but this works for me.
I use an app called PhotoPills to determine when the sun and moon rise and set. This app is like the Swiss Army knife of photography apps. It also displays three-dimensional Interactive overlays of the exact position of the sun and the moon throughout the day. So if I scout out a place where I want to shoot the sunset, for instance, I can hold my phone up to the sky and move it around to see the precise spot on the horizon where the sun will disappear. I also use the app to do calculations for long exposure when I am using an eight-stop ND filter. I can't recommend it enough so go get it.
I thought this made for an interesting composition. Even though I obviously knew what I was shooting in the field, while culling through the images later, I did a double take to figure out what was going on here and then remembered it was a reflection in a puddle. The similar and unified tones of the black and white, for me, conceal the idea initially.
Floating in Air
I had the same kind of reaction to this image when I tried to recall what was going on. Aside from the rocks breaking the surface of the water, the entire picture is a reflection of the boulders above and beyond the top of the frame.
One morning, my wife Linda and some friends drove the thirty miles from Gunnison to the trail at Dillon Pinnacles. This is an impressive rock outcrop that formed from the mudflows and lava of ancient volcanoes. The morning light hits the craggy rocks at an angle that accentuates their unique character so I wanted to be there for that visual experience. For the trip, I challenged myself to get one shot that represented the majesty of the Pinnacles. Black and white was my obvious choice because I believe it was better able to capture the ominous feeling I had while looking upwards.
The beauty of having an electonic viewfinder is that I'm able to see what the photograph will look like before I press the shutter.
I shoot in both RAW and JPEG and I use the in-camera film simulations to help me compose the photograph. I had the JPEGs set to black and white and the beauty of having an electonic viewfinder as opposed to the more traditional optical viewfinder is that I'm able to see what the photograph will look like before I press the shutter. For that reason, I was able to see everything in black and white and perhaps compose in a different way than I might have otherwise. It's a great advantage to me.
Still, as good as the JPEGs are straight out of the camera, I use them only as a reference. I like my black and white landscape images to be big and bold so that requires me to process the RAW files in Capture One and Silver Efex Pro. Given the control each program gives me over every pixel in the image, I am confident the end result will be exactly how I have previsualized it.
The Dillon Pinnacles Trail is full of beautiful scenery. As early as it was, I was completely wide-eyed and attentive to every conceivable photo opportunity. There was fog, sun and clouds and the views of the Blue Mesa Reservoir were mesmerizing. The fact that the elevation is in excess of eight thousand feet was literally breathtaking :)