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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Landscapes Exposed!

How to handle tricky lighting situations in the field

This Article Features Photo Zoom

landscape masters
Blinded By The Light
3 Sometimes you’re forced to shoot into the sun and live with the results. This isn’t always a bad thing, and you can make it work for you. Wait until the sun is low in the sky, almost to the point of it being on the horizon. Take a reading off the surface of the sand, in this case, ƒ/13, and sky, ƒ/14. I opted to expose for the sky and let the sand go slightly dark. Because the sun is so low in the sky, it won’t throw off the exposure of the rest of the sky. The sun itself was ƒ/22—if that was my exposure, everything would be dark except the sun.

Just the tiny area of the sky that the sun occupies will be brilliant, and the deep sapphire blue of the sky will dominate the image. We can’t look at the sun anyway, and a photograph of it peeking between some houses in the distance is far more interesting. The wide angle of the shot accentuates the vastness of the beach, and the small reflective pools of water help the exposure.

landscape masters
landscape masters
Feeling Moody
4 There are other times when the sky is so dark that very little color is present. As with shooting black-and-white, the absence of color intensifies the mood. In a situation like this where the sky is black, you want to expose on the slightly lighter ocean to preserve the blackness of the sky. The monochromatic intensity of this kind of image is heightened by freezing a moment in time when the waves are about to crash on the shore, but the blackness in the distance is a foreshadow of what’s to come. You could use a fill-flash to illuminate the rocks, but it might be better to illustrate that the darkness and lack of color in the distance is what’s coming.

Play Misty For Me
5 When cold water meets warm air, mist is created. If not shot carefully, mist can appear as just a blurry haze on the water. To the naked eye, the mist slowly rises, curls and then vaporizes. Expose for the steam, and the water beneath will be underexposed, making it stand out more. Getting the clouds into the shot also helps to highlight the mist in the image. Some might prefer to zoom in, just getting the phenomenon, but I found that shooting wider painted a better picture with much more contrast.


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