Tuesday, April 26, 2011
When you have your camera with you, good luck tends to happen
Isn’t it funny how ideas get started? When my kids started back to school last August, I gave myself the assignment to develop a new portfolio theme. My daughter’s new school is 20 minutes away from my house, and I have the morning run to take her there. I’ll be making the drive nearly every weekday during the school year. Since I’ll be driving through beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills, and I’m always looking for great light and new photographs, I might as well use my time wisely. I plan on calling the portfolio “Morning Light.”
For the first month or so, I found no good light. Indian summer conditions gave us clear blue skies and few interesting clouds. Finally, when our first winter rain arrived, I found great conditions for my “Morning Light” series! One Sunday night, we had a rip-roaring thunderstorm in our area. When I drove my daughter to school on Monday morning, there was a thick fog in the area. On my way home, I spotted these beautiful oaks across from the school. I spent the next 45 minutes reveling in the fog, photographing every variation I could think of, changing camera positions and lenses. I tried a few vertical panoramas and shuffled along the fence line of this field as I worked on various spacing between the trees. The fog simplified the background, isolating the graphic shapes of these Valley oaks. My favorite, “Oaks and Fog,” is shown here.
Composing the “Sunbeams and Forest” image was an interesting challenge, especially given the quickly changing conditions. I wanted the sunbeams to be the central focus, of course, but placing them in the center of the frame was too static. The beams were stronger on the right side, so I aimed to the right to give them enough room to stand out against the dark background. This framing also gave the image a more diagonal rhythm of tree silhouettes along the ridgeline. As always, my most used lens was on my camera, a Canon 70-200mm ƒ/2.8. The focal length was set at 165mm, which allowed me to reach past any distractions and isolate the key elements.
This experience reminds me of the early 1980s; for five years, I drove into Yosemite Valley to work and back down the Merced River Canyon again at the end of the day. How fortunate I am to have had that experience and to still live in an area of such beauty. Counting my blessings... Do you have your camera ready for your next magic moment?
To learn about William Neill’s one-on-one workshops, ebooks (William Neill’s Yosemite, Meditations in Monochrome, Impressions of Light and Landscapes of the Spirit) and online courses with BetterPhoto.com, and to visit his PhotoBlog, go to www.williamneill.com.
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