Monday, November 30, 2015

In search of soft light

My typical time to photograph is in low light situations.  I realize this usually requires me to be out at first light or at the end of the day after sunset.  Other times when the sky is overcast with no wind can be an ideal time to capture the soft light in a scene.  What I like about soft light is the glow that a scene can take on in these lighting conditions. The above photograph was taken in the last few minutes of day light when the light was soft and after the stirring winds have calmed down.  The time is limited so picking a location and setting up is usually done just before or after the sun has set.  I can usually get a couple of setups before the light is completely gone.  An important thing to look for is the side lighting in the scene.  If you look at the trees in this image you will noticed that the trees have a side lighting giving them deminsion and shape.  The open sky to the West is usually the source light for the scene after sunset, so setting up with that in mind can help you achieve the best light available for low light landscape photography. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

10,000 Islands

We were camped on Chokoloskee Island a couple of weeks ago to do some kayaking and photography.  This area has thousands of mangrove islands called the Ten Thousand Islands.  Being fairly new to Florida we were excited to explore a new region of the state.  As always when venturing out into a new wilderness area, we gather as much useful information as we can from the local people to help us with our plans.  This first thing we were told is that the tides are very strong in this area, and it was suggested  that we should paddle out with the out going tide and back with the incoming tide.   This approach worked very well and gave us plenty of time out on the water.  As we wandered around the various island it was easy to see we could get lost very quickly.  Everything looked the same so we tried to identify landmarks to remember to guide us back in the direction we needed to go on our return trip.  When I am photographing I take a lot of time composing and setting up may camera gear.   My wife Linda, who often travels with me on these trips, will explore around by herself when I am involved with photography.  I beached my kayak on a little sand bar and Linda paddled around the end of the island as I climbed in among the mangrove trees is search of a photograph.  After about thirty minutes of photographing I returned to my kayak to see it was gone.  I didn't realize the tide had come up and the water had covered the little beach area where my kayak was sitting.  Looking out I could see it about a thousand feet from shore and I was a little startled because Linda was nowhere in sight.  I started wading out and soon realized the water wasn't more than waist deep so I was able to retrieve my kayak with no problem.  If the wind was blowing and I was out there by myself it might have been a different story.  From now on I will always secure my boat with a rope when kayaking where there is a tide.  I have learned over the years that a trip turns into an adventure when something goes wrong. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Expectations vs. Reality

All of us go through life with a certain amount of expectations, but often times the reality of a situation doesn't match our anticipated plans.  As landscape photographers, we travel to an area with a hope and expectation of finding the right conditions and subject matter to make an interesting photograph.  Many times the reality doesn't match our hopes. Often times the light or the weather is not right for doing photography.  I remember in my early days with photography I would become upset at wasting a day without making an image because the conditions didn't co-operate or I just couldn't find anything I was interested in photographing.  Today I don't get as alarmed with the failed visits to an area and coming away empty handed.  I know from experience that the good images will come and the hard work to find them will never be an easy task.  I made this image a couple of days ago on the east coast of Florida.  My expectations were to revisit the rock jetty that is featured in my banner image on my blog's main page.  I have been wanting to return to this location and repeat the experience to see if I could create another new and interesting image.  I started out my day by checking the motion weather radar map to see if any storms would be moving through the area.  It showed that early afternoon storms were going to be in the region so I decided to make the trip.  I arrived early and scouted the location and waited.  In a couple of hours the storms appeared with some magnificent clouds but the storm failed to go out over the ocean and left the jetty with a blank blue sky behind it.  As I watched the storm moving north up the coastline I felt like I just wasted another trip.  My plans and expectations faded into the reality of the situation.   As I returned to my truck I noticed a small hiking trail going through a hammock of dense trees.  I figured I would make a hike before making the drive home and explored the area forest.   Although this area was only a short way from the beach it was extremely quiet in there and the storm clouds made for some really nice soft light.  I came across this fallen palm frond and instantly knew this was going to be my image of the day.  As I came away I realized the short quiet walk in amongst the trees was the place I was meant to be that day. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Storm at sunrise

We recently spent some time down in the Florida Keys.  It is a good place to photograph if you are looking to be surrounded by sky and water.  We camped at Long Key St. Pk. and had this view looking out over the ocean from our campsite.  On this particular morning I saw a thunderstorm out over the ocean as the sun was coming up.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and made a quick setup.  I made a few exposures as the storm moved across the horizon.  As I was reviewing my images I noticed that the  limb on the right side of the tree merged with the water so I lowered my tripod and made two more exposures before the sun broke through the clouds.  To me this small adjustment makes a big difference in the final image.  Some of the earlier images had better storm clouds and light shafts but I choose this image because the tree is separated a little from the background.  There is so much to think about when the light is changing quickly.  It is easy to overlook things and make mistakes when hurried.  Most of my work is done in a more contemplative approach where I work slowly and organized.  It takes constant practice to be able to setup your equipment, determine exposure, and find the proper composition in a hurry.  Sometimes you get rewarded with an image and others times it is just a practice for the next time you come across a quick changing scene. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fisheating Creek

We just returned from camping in the Everglades in south Florida.  This fall season has been hotter than normal with temps in the 90's each day.  It can be a challenge to be outdoors hiking and kayaking in the swamps with summer temperatures.  We were able to visit some great locations for making photographs and plan more visits to that area in the future.  On our way back through central Fl. we camped at the place called Fisheating Creek.  It is old Florida at it's best with a large strand of old growth cypress trees along the creek.  Making photographs in these locations can be difficult because of the elements that surround you.  Wading through the swamps is the only way to access many of these locations and with it comes caution to be looking for alligators and snakes.  The mosquitos and spiders are a constant nuisance but are rarely life threatening.  Living in Florida we have come to value nature's beauty that can be found here.  I have been told many times that there is nothing to photograph in Florida, but I have found that is not true. I will say this, there is nothing easy to photograph in Florida.