Inspiration – it’s All Around You

As a landscape photographer, primarily, you’re always looking for the best scene. More importantly, you’re looking for the best light to capture that scene. One quickly learns that the best light can be found at sunrise and sunset. These times aren’t called ‘golden’ for no reason. We’d all like the drama of a setting sun lighting up the sky with a warm glow, or the sparkle of the sunrise shinning through some distant trees.

However, the weather, sun and sky don’t always cooperate. Of course, we mere humans have no control over this. So, you have to work with what you’ve got. This past weekend, the weather was well….. not too good. There was some rain and the skies were overcast for most of the time. Still, that doesn’t mean that you leave the camera in the bag and sulk.  

The included photo didn’t even involve travel, I just walked right across the street from my house!

I simply walked over and snapped a few images. I already knew what I wanted the final image to look like, so the lack of directional light – or any light for that matter wasn’t a problem.

We had a pretty stiff breeze going so, wanting to avoid motion blur, I knew I would have to get the fastest shutter speed possible. With low light, that meant two things; 

1) bumping up the ISO (usually not recommended, but necessary in this case)

2) shooting with a wide aperture. This second part was no problem as I was shooting with my macro lens and it has a very fast aperture (f=2.5).

I didn’t want to open up quite that much as I wanted some latitude where it came to depth of field. f=2.5 is VERY narrow and it would be possible to have only a small portion of the image in focus. So, I stopped down to about f=3.5.  As for the ISO, I greatly dislike shooting at an ISO above 100 as that provides the best quality. However, as the sun was blocked, and it was a dark overcast, I knew that ISO 100 wasn’t going to give me the shutter speed that I needed to stop the swaying subject in its tracks. I decided to bump up the ISO to about 400 for starters.

I also wanted to be very specific with the exposure, with this in mind, I set the metering system to spot metering (so only the center of the focus area would be included in the metering). This caused the image to stand out while the rest of the image goes darker. This looks like a night photo, but was actually made at about 2:30 – 3:00 PM.

With all the setting aligned as needed, I started to look for the best angles and compositions of the scene at hand.

I ended up with a shutter speed of about 1/2500 of a second – certainly fast enough to stop a moving subject!

I knew I was going to convert this image to Black & White so the noise form a higher ISO image wouldn’t be a problem.

The challenge is to see the interest in all things. After all, Inspiration is all around you!

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