Tuesday, April 8, 2014
No matter the conditions, remove yourself from expectations and focus on what’s there and not on what you wish was there
It's early morning; your camera gear is packed. With a cup of steaming coffee in your hand, you hike to the viewpoint you selected the previous evening. You're full of hope that this morning the sky finally will be filled with the dramatic clouds you've been waiting for. Without these clouds, the majestic landscape you've been exploring over the last few days will lack drama. You want this picture to be perfect, you want nature to cooperate. Twilight comes, and the first golden sun rays are breaking into a star at the top of a mountain ridge to your right. Above your head, the sky is as clear as the night before. Disappointment takes the place of anticipation. You lose interest and focus, dump the rest of your coffee, and hike back to your car.
Deserts usually lack clouds. If you're lucky enough to get a cloud-filled sky in the desert, shoot as much as you can, but don't expect that to happen on the day you'll be there. Instead of relying on a dramatic sky, use the strong contrast between the sunlit areas of the dunes and the shadows to create dune abstracts. Sand dunes are among my favorite topics in nature for creative abstracts. It's amazing to see what the effect of the sun low at the horizon can do to a landscape that's a boring monotone without any contrast at midday.
A similar situation is demonstrated in the photo where I used a saguaro cactus in the foreground of a clear and moonless night sky with star trails caused by an exposure of about eight hours. The star trails accentuate the background without taking anything away from the cactus as the main subject.
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