Thursday, May 24, 2012


Scenario: I had seen many photos on-line of this famous natural arch in Utah, in Canyonlands National Park, called Mesa Arch. I'm sure some of you have seen photos of it too. At early sunrise, the underside of the arch lights up in this awesome orange/red color, which is nothing other than light from the early sun light being reflected on the underside of the arch as it is reflected from the face of the cliff below.

Preparation: I went to the arch the day before my plan to "shoot" it. My purpose of scoping it out beforehand: to know exactly how to get to it and how much time it would take--I didn't want to miss that magical early sunrise timing; see what challenges I might have; pick my #1, #2, and #3 spots from which to shoot--I knew there would be other photographers there; get a feel for what f/stop I would need; check out focusing challenges; etc.

Exhibition: I got up at 4:15 that morning (it was a 1-hour drive); when I got there, very early, there were already six photographers there! Luckily, my #1 spot was still barely available. I had to sort of squeeze in between two other photographers, but right at where I had picked my #1 spot the day before. I put on a warming (81B) filter to warm up the colors even more so; I already knew from the day before which lens was going to work for me (my 17mm-50mm); I already knew my composition, so I got that set; I took my lens/camera off auto-focus and manually focused at a point I thought would give me the best depth of field (at f/32). I took a couple of test shots to get a preview of my depth of field, exposure, color, and composition. So, I had all the key variables in place. The only thing left was wait for the sun to do its thing with that famous arch, knowing that I was going to bracket my shots--always a must when shooting high contrast scenes.

Technical prep:  f/32; 17-50 lens; manual focus; camera sturdy on tripod; composition set; warming filter; bracketing.

                                  Final Result (very little fine-tuning afterward)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

(or how to not fight your exposure meter)
When I find lighting situations with high contrast, rather than worry about how I'm going to properly handle the wide range of "stops" within the scene, I take advantage of the wide range to give me more artistic images. I don't try to replicate life, but interpret it.

For this image, instead of using my matrix metering (which would have "flattened" out the lighting and color), I spot metered off the foreground flowers, then bracketed around that reading in order to get that "in your face" color with a subdued backgrond. If I were a painter, this is the effect, the feeling, I would want to convey. This image is on my website. Enjoy.

I call this "Out of The Shadows."