Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo Carousel #7: "Milkweed In Cold Sunset"

Here's a nice shot taken at the Mohonk Preserve in New York when I was coming to the end of a great day of hiking with my daughter.  This is my seventh Photo Carousel entry.

I'm getting more comfortable executing these types of classic shots.  I used to struggle to find nice compositions like this with the right lighting elements, etc, but all of my practice is starting to pay off nicely because I'm "seeing" these scenes more easily these days.

As we came to the end of our hike, the sun was setting fast and we were almost back to the car. The temperature was dropping quickly through the mid 40's and into the 30's in what seemed like just a few minutes.  When we rounded the last turn in our trail and came to this open field, the sun was just finishing cutting across it with a great golden color.  The photographer's classic "golden light"...

My daughter (8 years old) is just learning to take photographs and I showed her how to get behind these milkweed to let the sun shine through them to make a nice effect. Her response was "Cool, that looks much better.  Thanks Dad!".  She went to take some photos of some other plants nearby that she liked and I stuck with these to try to get my shot....

From the creative and technical perspective, a number of things came together nicely here that I wanted to mention as a learning experience...

I composed the shot that I wanted with the two primary large fluffy weeds positioned near two intersecting "Rule of Thirds" lines.  Not right on them because I wanted to keep certain things out of the frame, but close enough.  Dividing up the frame in my mind in various ways and placing elements where I want them was the single biggest thing that I did years ago to improve my photography.

Interestingly, I originally framed this shot to cut out the two smaller weeds in the bottom left corner, but then I realized that their shapes echoed the two larger ones and I thought that was cool so I put them back in.

With the composition and the light in place, I was ready to shoot but something was still missing.  Warmth.  This scene needed some warmth.  I decided to wait for the setting sun to enter the top of the frame.  I knew that the small aperture I was using on my Canon S95 would get me some nice streaks of golden light across the frame. Patience paid off, and it worked perfectly!  I fired off a few quick shots at various zooms on this same scene just as the sun came into the frame and this is the one that I liked the best.

The scene is -2/3 stop underexposed to make the colors a little more rich.  A straight metering of the overall scene would have overexposed it due to the mostly darker field I was shooting, so I dialed in some negative exposure compensation.  Any time you want to make the colors in a scene like this a little more rich, just dial in -1/3 or -2/3 exposure compensation if the scene can take it without ruining the mood.

About one minute later the golden light completely ended as the sun ducked behind the hill. We were left out in the cold gray light of the rapidly approaching darkness to finish our walk to the car. 

We completed the day with a nice post-hike dinner in the town of New Paltz, NY at the Gilded Otter Brewery.  Another great day out with my family, during which I was able to snag some nice photos...

1 comment:

  1. This is just beautiful. I can almost feel the cold but it reminds me of the way a touch of sun on your face on those types of days can keep you just warm enough to enjoy being outside. Just a beautiful photograph.