Tag Archives: light

Day Two – Tips, Techniques, and Insight into Making Stunning Photos

18 Sep

Today we are going to examine the details behind possibly my best shot of last year called, Celestial Alignment. The title comes from the fact the Lord literally hooked it up that morning and elements all fell into place perfectly for a stunning image.

Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Technical Info: Canon 5D mark 2, 16 – 35 L/2.8, F/22, .8 exposure, ISO 160

Filters:  .9 Singh-Ray GND (Soft), .6 Lee GND (Hard)

Processing: Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4

Creative Process:  I captured this image during the one night I spent at Bryce Canyon NP last year. Talk about a blessing! We arrived at the park the day before as storms were moving through the area. The shooting was good during the afternoon as well as for sunset. The following morning we arrived at Sunset Point (better for sunrises IMO) and I began walking and composing images. Because there were no clouds obscuring the horizon, the pre-dawn light was pretty intense, so I stacked a couple of grads on my camera. I knew from my test shots that a single graduated neutral density filter would not be enough to capture the full dynamic range of light, even while bracketing. (For the most, using graduated neutral density filters at Bryce Canyon is straight forward because of the even horizon).  As the light began to change, we continued to move along the rim of the canyon. I generally knew where I wanted to shoot because I had scouted the location the day before. I also had a pretty good idea of where the sun was going to come up at because of the light in the sky. As the sun appeared, I found myself in the right place at the right time well prepared to capture the fleeting scene. All in all, the light lasted maybe 5 minutes and I was able to create plenty of images in that time.

I used an aperture of F/22 to create the sunburst effect as the sun moved over the horizon. I also bracketed my exposures by 1 1/3 stops allowing me plenty of “wiggle room” so when editing I had the full dynamic range of light to properly replicate what I saw in the sky. The hardest part about editing images of Bryce is balancing out the contrast in the red rocks with the contrast in the trees.  Also, not clipping the red channels in the rocks can be problematic. Overall, this image came out extremely and I am fortunate to share this story with you.  I hope you found it useful. If so, please let me know!

5 Photos in 5 Days – Tips, Techniques, and Insight into Making Stunning Photos

17 Sep

Today is the first of an exciting new series revealing  the technical details, creative thought processes, and other relevant information behind five of my personal favorite images. My goal is to make this series extremely informative – so please come back every day and tell your friends too! Today we’ll start with my newest image from my most recent trip to the Sierra Nevada’s entitled “Land of Enchantment”. 

Dappled sunlight shows off the morning colors of a high alpine drainage near the Great Western Divide.

Location:  Sequoia National Park, CA 

Technical Info:   Canon 5D Mark 2, 16 -35 L/2.8, F/16, 1 Second, ISO 160 

Filters:  Tiffen 1.2 ND, Lee .9 GND (Hard) 

Processing: Adobe Camera Raw and CS4 

Creative process:  This image was captured during a 6 day/5 night backpacking trip along the High Sierra Trail while camping at Hamilton Lake. Truth be told, I find it very difficult to consistently capture good images when I am backpacking.  First off, it is physically and mentally exhausting. Secondly, you are constantly on the move, which leaves little time for location scouting or layover days.  Here was my approach to this image:  The lakes in the High Sierra normally have tributaries. For many of them, there is water running in on one end and running out on the other. These tributaries tend to be dramatic and this was no exception. Following the creek downstream from our camp,  I found this perch after locating the view that captivated me  on the way in the day before. 

I love shooting water if possible. For this image, I used the top of the fall as my foreground element which also opened up the first third of the image. I want to have a clear, unobstructed view of the domes without any distracting foreground elements.  The spacing of the trees and bushes work out well here, there is enough to provide interest but not any noticeable overlapping colors, shapes, or patterns.  

This image was captured at approximately 8:30 in the morning. Fast moving clouds created exciting, minute by minute changes in the light. I still needed to use a neutral density filter to slow the shutter speed to one second to capture the water in a silky state. Because of weight limitations, I only packed one graduated neutral density filter on the trip and it was .9 or 3 stop filter. (I actually packed the wrong one). Using a filter holder, I placed the filter at approximately 3 o’clock  darkening the sky and the top of the peaks. I also exposure bracketed and blended back in some of the clipped highlights most notably in the middle of the fall and rocks on the right side of the middle part of  image.   I was very fortunate to be blessed with the kind of light necessary to pull off a shot like this. (The version on my website is slightly better with modified shadows/highlights – see if you can tell the difference) 

Hopefully this was a big help to you. I will be posting all weekend with more information about some of my best photos!

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