Natural Black and White

It still amazes me how light changes. Light is such a powerful tool and how it reacts with the world always fascinates me. When it comes to sunsets we are very accustomed to seeing brilliant yellows, oranges and reds. What’s not as normal is seeing the absence of light to the point where it’s almost black and white. Besides the glow on the horizon there really wasn’t any light present when it took this. Now you might be saying that I just changed in post, well I didn’t. Unlike other landscape images of mine this one wasn’t touched in ACR because there was nothing to finish. While I was shooting towards the sunlit nothing is really backlit merely the cloud layer was so thick that nothing was coming through. It’s strange to see in person especially since 180 degrees the other way the sky looked completely different.

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All Roads Lead Somewhere

I love working with roads. It may seem odd to use in landscapes but they are a great simple way for the minds eye to move through an image. When it comes to my landscape photography I try to either exclude the man made objects that are often distracting from the overall scene or incorporate them so that they are not distracting. Roads are one of those man made objects that can be included to tell a story.

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I threw up these three examples to show how effective a road can be. They were all taken with the same settings and with a D4 and 18mm. While they were all taken at the same location they were in slightly different spots but the story remains the same. The really important element to remember when it comes to roads is that there has to be something worthwhile at the end. That simple notion goes back far into human psychology that there is always something better at the end of the journey. The image incorporates that ideal by showing what we are seeing along that journey. The next time you’re out shooting remember to look for those roads.

When to Change the White Balance

The White Balance is a very important feature with our digital cameras and is one that is often underutilized. It’s very simple these days to shoot RAW format and then in post make the changes that the White Balance could’ve have done in the camera. While there is nothing wrong with this if you’re shooting to make memories as well to create content then getting it right the first time is important. Personally as much as I enjoy playing around with images in post, I’d rather be out fishing, bike riding or shooting. That time thing is always the one area where you have to get it right the first time.

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While I was out shooting a few days ago I changed from Auto White Balance to Cloudy in hopes that the warmth of the sunset would come back and a more dramatic sky would be produced. Well it didn’t. The sun was going down behind a wall of clouds and only a a couple breaks in the wall were showing. Because the temperature of the sky was below 5000K switching to cloudy wasn’t going to do any good anyway. If anything it actually made the scene more accurate to the current temperature.

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The second image was taken while in Auto White Balance. In this case what you’re seeing is what the camera senses is the most accurate based on the hue and intensity of the light source measured in degrees Kelvin. The camera then choose a result from preprogramed measurements. Both images have a very different feel to them as a result of these changes. While you could make these same changes in post, taking the two second to switch modes while shooting a going click saves you a whole lot of time. The important thing is to test different modes while shooting different scenarios that way when the need arises again, you’ll have a base of knowledge to go to that can help you determine what the best method is to create the best shot.

Out Looking for Birds

It’s that time of the year again if you’re a Wildlife Photographer where you need to be looking for birds. The Spring migration is starting to happen in certain areas, granted the weather throughout the country is making time tables a little off, but birds are moving through. With rainy days this whole past week, there wasn’t too many great opportunities for shooting but great days for scouting. It’s important to research various watering holes where birds like to collect and then go and visit those places and see what the shooting options are if any. This is one of those spots.

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This is a marshy pond I found last year not far from the Gallatin River. I marked as a possible afternoon shooting site as one side is impossible to get to for a morning shoot. The birds were already there. I counted at least a dozen species either heard or saw and found ways to work them. However, as you can probably tell from the skies I didn’t really get a chance to pull the big glass out. The skies from the western horizon to the eastern were filled with these clouds. Little breaks here and there but nothing lasting. This one image, captured with the D4 and 18mm, was in between a window of about fifteen seconds and then the light disappeared. I waited around until the sun was almost at the horizon to see if the light would pop through and it did a little bit. It was actually pretty gorgeous out to the west. Well needless to say I’ll be going back to this spot to see what else I can make happen.

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