The Color of Light
I love things that challenge our perceived reality, and do so in a natural, honest way.
I’m sure that many viewers would see the image below and hate the “fake” colors. Of course, the colors in the picture are not fake. They are provided by nature and are natural in every way.
This “black” Double-crested Cormorant is drying its wings at sunset. Most black animals have warm or brown pigments within their fur or feathers anyway, It’s just a matter of light catching them at the right angle. I have never seen a black horse that didn’t show a bit of brown in the right light. That said, this bird as we see I here, is pretty brown due to the warmth of sunset.
There are a lot of birders who hate birds that do not show the colors as they appear in their bird book. The truth is, if the golden light of sunset, paints the feathers of a Cormorant warm and golden brown, than that’s the color of the bird for as long as that light lasts.
I always viewed nature photography as being the recording (often times art as well), of all of nature. Whatever my subject was, the natural light in the image was also a subject in my image.
I have always enjoyed abstracting (I love it when you can make abstract into a verb) images by using various telephoto lenses to compress more than one tone or color onto a single plane. In this case, only a 105mm lens was needed.
I spent most of one autumn morning finding a way to compress green conifer trees onto the same plane as golden hardwoods. Despite the irregular patterns created between the two tree types, there is still a flow or “almost” a pattern to this picture.
There is nothing better than roaming with a camera on a crisp, beautiful fall morning. It is the perfect time to find your own voice and interpret nature.
Bringing it Together
While this image is a long ways from my best ever sunrise/sunset, I still enjoy it both because it brings back memories of that morning, and because it took some patience and thought to accomplish.
Sometimes image making is a reaction, and sometimes more of an intellectual exercise.
I made pictures that morning from well before the time the sun reached the horizon, until well after it rose above that cloud bank. My goal with this image was to catch the sun before it mingled with the clouds, and to create a spotlight across Lake Michigan. The final piece of the puzzle was to have rim light on a portion of the clouds. Patience and a knowledge of photography gave me what I wanted.
I think there was a potential for a better picture here. The light across the lake would be accented in a vertical composition, although rim light in the clouds would have a diminished purpose.
In and Out of Focus
I enjoy close-up photography, especially that with flowers, when just enough depth of field is employed, and the point of focus is finite enough, that the fuzzy and the sharp compliment each other.
I do enjoy the crispness that exists on the “in focus” dew covered portion of the flower here. I also enjoy the contrast between the sharp and the soft. Just the same, I do not like the composition. It is soooo close to what I believe I wanted at the time, but not quite. To me, a little less softness in the foreground, with a little lower position for that fuzziness, would be perfect.
I may in fact have the perfect blend in my files but I purposely did not search for it. It is all too easy, for a photographer to reject the one that almost made it, in favor of the perfect shot. If that’s all I do on these pages, than I am not an honest teacher. This is after all a blog, not a traditional website.
How Much is Enough?
I am sure I wanted this flower/plant to carry with it enough depth of field to hold sharpness on the front layer of the subject. I managed to do that with an f stop of 14, and a zoom lens set at 195mm. I am quite sure that the focal length was used to narrow down the background to an unobtrusive section of grasses. They were also quite a distance in the background and that helped. I doubt anything I could have done would make this photo top level in my files, but I did do my job just the same. A fairly unattractive plant in a somewhat unattractive surrounding became palatable because of my knowledge and experience.
Some days you’re a technician of sorts, some days an artist, and on the best of days you are both.
Pearls of Wisdom
Those of you who know me, also know that I love photographing dewy orb webs. They take more patience than anything I ever did in photography, as I tore many a web, and knocked the dew off many more before I caught the knack (and patience) to move verrrrrrrry slowwwwwwly and carefully with both my body, and my tripod.
I don’t specifically remember the morning I created the web picture that you see below, but I did a great job (if I do say so) in making a careful, thoughtful composition. The only problem is, the silhouette of the stem of a plant left of center, is obnoxiously interrupting my, or better said nature’s thoughtful composition. The answer is of course a simple, crop.
The vertical comp also an excellent, rhythmic feeling to it. The less defined plant silhouettes that still live in varied parts of the picture frame, not only do not bother me, but they add a little nice variation to the overall image.
Photography is about details and macro photography is “especially” about details.
Keep it Simple
What do you do when you are driving through the mountains and you see a low hanging group of clouds, and the distant sunrise beginning to creep towards those mountains? Well you almost trash the car getting stopped, and trip over your tripod as you run for a location to make pictures.
I have shared before, more powerful images that were created that same morning but a little before this one while the light was more spectacular, but today is about examining all sides of things.
This is the sort of image that would have been on a postcard many years ago. Today, even postcard pictures have pretty high expectations. I did not use a graduated filter in this image, deciding to keep it simple. There is still detail in the foreground trees and that’s about all you can ask for a straight up image. Not the most powerful picture I have made, and I may not share it again, but I’ll keep it just the same.
Photographs can be records of our lives, or they can be deeply personal memories.
Going Against Popular Wisdom
I am going to break every rule for a photographer who’s sharing pictures with the world, and leave you with an image that was a failure.
This picture was created in the month of May in the Colorado Rockies. My friend and I spotted (how could you miss it) this peak which was covered in its entirely with a thick layer of snow. Top to bottom, the entire peak. We stopped even though we were busy making time (miles). We gave ourselves maybe 4 minutes.
Conifers that could be used as a silhouette, a mix of blue sky and white clouds, and of course that mountain. A nice combination of subjects.
In this picture, I did not get the right balance of cloud and blue sky. This despite the fact that those clouds were moving quickly and giving us a lot of compositional choices. I do not like my balance between the trees and the summit or the peak. The only two things I like about this photo is the fact that I chose a vertical composition, and of course the subject itself was wonderful.
Would fifteen minutes longer affected our journey? I doubt it. If only we could have do-overs!
The Good & The Bad both Have Value
We can all learn things from other photographers, but I do wish successful photographers were more willing to share their failures as well as their successes. People learn as much from failures as they do from success, and every single photographer, yes all of them, do at times fail.
In education, winners and losers are both winners when it comes to tools for teaching.
Happy Trails, Wayne