It’s still about the light

Boat Night In
Boat Night In by I Nancy, on Flickr

I was listening to Scott Bourne’s Photofocus podcast today and one of the questions went roughly like this: “When heading to a new place, how do you figure out where to shoot?”. And Scott’s answer, in typical Scott pithiness, was to follow the light – “In good light, you can take a picture of a fire hydrant in Barcelona and convince people to go there.”

So here is this old sad fishing boat in Morro Bay. The evening light was falling with just a few rays left to help highlight this ol ‘gal.

Where is the Light?

Good Morning
Good Morning by I Nancy, on Flickr

Your at a location and your mind is running through its paces. You are asking yourself questions. What is the location telling you? What do you want to concentrate on? What lens should you chose? What camera settings are you going to choose? Where is the light? – Where IS the light?

Here I was shooting predawn at the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse area just above San Simeon. At some point I turn around and BAM!, there was the light. A beautiful light – skimming across the glass lands and lighting up the wildflowers like evening sparklers. I was shooting long and recorded the lines and colors and undulating fields as well as the muted foothills in the background.

Landscape Abstracts – Spumoni Ice Cream Mountains

Artist's Pallet
Artist’s Pallet by I Nancy, on Flickr

Death Valley’s iconic Artist’s Pallet. It is an area where various mineral deposits have created a color pallet that looks like spumoni ice cream in with chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, and vanilla mountains. More Landscape Abstracts.

Just a few weeks ago I discovered the landscape photography of William Neil. I purchased 3 of his books in eBook form (downloadable PDF) for $25: Meditations in Monochrome, Landscapes of the Spirit, and Impressions of Light. His images are subtle, quiet, and layered often juxtaposing light with dark, fog with clarity,  still and motion. Where Meditations in Monochrome and Landscapes of the Spirit are traditional landscape technique and composition, Impressions of Light departs by using camera movement to create, as the title indicates, impressions of the landscape. Like his other work, they too are subtle and layered and simply beautiful to admire.

I was moved by his work and approach and squirreled away a note in my head to start to explore this same technique in addition to my continued pursuit of more traditional landscape approaches. I had my first chance in Death Valley and will be posting a series of images taken in this style during the trip. The work created in camera with the use of slow shutter speeds and camera movement. I looked for opportunities to highlight color and textures and experimented with different types of camera movement and learning what best supports the natural structure of the image elements. I often stacked 3-stop ND filter my circular polarizer to give me a full 4-stops of darkening. Combining this with small apertures and long exposures I had the basic equipment that I needed. In post I used standard processing techniques working curves and white balance to create the final image.