I’m always looking for simple graphic images in any chaotic environment. The river at Ken Lockwood Gorge is filled with so many photographic opportunities. I spent a fair amount of time in this one river location working the composition and waiting for the light. I’m sure the hikers who passed me coming and going were curious as to what I was shooting. Was I photographing a fish? Was it a cool Amphibian? No, it was a lone rock in the water.
There are 3 main elements that caught my eye: the colors reflecting into the water, the way the water was moving around the rock itself and finally the distinct shape and colors on the rock. Presenting those 3 elements in a neat and tidy composition is the challenge.
My 70-200 allowed for the tighter composition and I purposely positioned the subject low in the crop and used the rest of the frame to enhance the story. Next, taking a cue from Dean Cobin’s blog (see below….thanks Dean) and his use of neutral density filters I broke out my 4 stop ND filter. This filter doesn’t get to see the light of day very often but coupled with my polarizer it gave me about six additional stops to play with. Having the ability to shoot with a longer exposure allowed the cascades to be soft and white. The curves of the water are essential elements in the composition without over powering the rock.
Learn to shoot long exposures and you will really start to gain creative control of your images. It’s actually very simple and lots of fun. Here are the basic’s ; you will need a tripod mounted camera and a simple understanding of how to increase the length of your exposure time, you’ll also need something to shoot such as a stream, rushing water at the beach or clouds on breezy day . Once you pick your scene go head and meter your shot. In this example I will be shooting in aperture priority so once I set my f stop the camera will choose the correct shutter speed accordingly.
Take your exposure and keep track of the exposure time. Now comes the question how do we extend the length of the exposure and the answer is we need to block some light, the first and simplest way to do that is to “stop down” or close down your aperture. This means to move it to a higher number. Remember that for every stop you add you are decreasing the amount of light by half or doubling the exposure time. For example if your first exposure ended up being ¼ second then by stopping down to the next stop your next exposure should end up being ½ a second which is an eternity in photographic terms , if you stopped down again your exposure would end up being a full second long . You might ask what happens when I run out of stops on my lens, where here’s where it gets more interesting you can also control the light by putting something called a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens which I will leave for another discussion.
Light is the big factor here and if you want to realize immediate success when trying this I suggest you attempt this during very early light or very late light the results you can achieve with just your lens will be quite significant. The image posted here was slightly more difficult to capture because It was shot at noon , but with the aid of an overcast sky and a variable neutral density filter I was able to extend this exposure to 4 seconds which creates a dreamy effect for the pour off’s and strong flow lines in the water which add the intended effect for my composition. Try it I think you will really enjoy the effects and never be afraid to take risks with your creativity that’s what makes us all unique. Of course there are countless hours of reading and info on this subject on line which I strongly encourage you to explore…
I will be perfectly honest with you I don’t enjoy shooting in cold weather. I find it terribly difficult and distracting. Even with all the proper cold weather gear I seem to be spending more time thinking about my numb painful extremities than being creative.
With that in mind, on one of the coldest days of the season, I ventured out in ten-degree weather in search of winter images at Plainsboro Preserve. A small amount of fresh powdery snow had fallen overnight and coated all the surfaces through out the preserve. Trying to ignore the pain of my ears (I forgot my hat) I began looking for interesting compositions. For me, winter is a perfect time to explore textures and details that when coupled with snow or ice can become the starting point for a beautiful graphic image.
The contrast in textures and the sinewy nature of this plant are what caught my eye originally. For an image like this to be successful I felt it was important to isolate the plant away from the larger group. I wanted it to be the singular star in the image. To that end: I opened the aperture to F/8 on my 70-200mm lens, positioned the camera so the plant was backlit and compositionally put the subject slightly off center to the top left. Putting the plant dead center would have been a static composition. The negative space is important. To me at least, far to often we overlook the small shots but sometimes the smaller shots convey a bigger story…..and payoff. Larry
For as long as there have been cameras there have been concerns with its evolvement as a medium. Does the next generation of cameras make the last ones obsolete? Many photographers hold on to their beliefs that their equipment is better than any of the newer systems available.
I went for a walk recently in the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park. I carried my normal amount of equipment hoping to find a shot amongst the heavy fog. I also had my iPhone with me. I may have had more fun with my iPhone than my Cannon on this day. There is a spontaneity, freedom and experimentation when shooting with the iPhone. The immediacy to create and share a vision brought new life to the morning walk. A phone is by no means a replacement for a full blown camera system but who knows what the future holds. I think as technology changes it’s alright for photographers to play, create and get excited with the new advances in our field. A photographers vision shouldn’t be dependent on their equipment. After all it’s all about the final image….isn’t it? Larry
There is a lot of information in this post…. my favorite image from the NYNJTC area this year and a couple of links that I found interesting and would like to share. To begin with, this image was taken at Little Long Pond in Harriman State Park. I was lucky to have heavy dense fog the morning I was shooting. Shooting in fog can be challenging for a correct exposure while still holding details. Bracketing gave me options to choose during post production. That’s right I bracketed just like the old film days. I wanted the best possible exposure to begin my post processing work. The end result is a peaceful quiet image with depth.I spent many hours in Harriman this past year and plan to devote more time shooting there in 2013.
I’ve included 2 links that I found interesting. The first link is a correlation between hiking in parks and the possible connection to individual creativity. Interesting and applicable to creating your individual art.
The second link is information about what possibly could happen to National Parks, EPA and other environmental issues if we go off the fiscal cliff. Not exactly light reading but informational none the less.
Enjoy your holidays. Larry
Dunnfield Creek-Sometimes with the right elements, a tighter composition can tell a very effective and stronger story. Far to often photographers head out with an objective to get that big crowd pleasing images and they miss the subtleties of the environment they’re in. It’s taken some practice on my part to enjoy where I’m shooting for the beauty instead of rushing to get to a location that I think exists some where else. In an instant gratification world, where epic photographs with unbelievable light are becoming the norm sometimes it’s nice to slow down and appreciate the smaller parts of the whole. It can be equally as satisfying and in some cases far better. ©Larry
Harriman State Park-When ever I shoot landscapes a foreground element is very important to me. Sometimes I spend more time looking at foregrounds than the actual composition. Having said that more times than not I think it adds so much more interest to the image. It provides a starting point for the viewer and it creates added visual interest. Continue reading