shooting wildflowers in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado this past summer,
I happened across a reflection of mountain peaks in an alpine tarn in late
afternoon light. While I was waiting for the sun to peak from behind some
clouds another photographer, who had taken an interest in the same subject,
approached me. She set up her camera and tripod and proceeded to click
off a few shots. We both waited for about an hour for the sun to reappear
with no luck. She then turned to me and lamented, “I have been trying to
get a shot of the mountains reflecting in this pond with the right lighting
all week. I guess it just isn’t going to happen today.” She then packed
up her gear and left. Not more than five minutes after she left, the sun
peaked out from behind the clouds and lit up the mountain peaks to create
a nice reflection in the tarn. The light lasted long enough for me to shoot
a couple rolls of film.
I was driving back home I couldn’t help but wonder why the other photographer
left so soon. Now, I know there are never any guarantees that, if one waits
long enough, magical light will occur each and every time. However, in
my experience, it never happens when I leave too soon.
that said, with some patience and a little luck I have experienced opportunities
to create images which, at first where “blah”, but with some changes in
lighting conditions turned out, dare I say, “aahhh”.
order to create such images it is important to understand light and the
variety of lighting conditions that you will experience while photographing
in the outdoors. When photographing in early morning light you will generally
experience a bluish cast. When photographing on an overcast, drizzly day
you will experience more saturated, vibrant colors and the bluish cast
two images that are shown were taken three days apart in the Great Smoky
Mountains in Tennessee. The first image was taken in early morning light
with little or no cloud cover. This image contains bluish hues. The second
image was taken on a rainy overcast day. Notice how saturated the colors
are in this image. Both images are acceptable. However, I find the second
image with the greater color saturation more appealing.
photographing a winter sunrise or sunset the color of the light reflected
from the clouds will be reproduced in the snow. Therefore, a pink sky at
sunrise will produce pink-colored snow. By understanding the nuances of
light you can begin to predict the outcome of your images, for the most
part, prior to snapping the shutter!
taking pictures on a bright sunny day the shadows that are created are
deep and black. The light reflected off of most subjects tends to be very
bright and uneven. Your images will turn out to be washed out and contain
a high level of contrast. I personally find images such as these harder
to look at and unappealing. On the other hand, by shooting in early morning
and late afternoon light or on a cloudy day the existing light tends to
create a softer or warmer feeling. The colors in your images will be more
subdued and the end results will be more appealing to your viewers.
an understanding of light and some patience you to can use the power of
light to transform your images from “blah” to “aahhh”. JS