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on Mar 5, 2012 in Landscape Photography

The Delight of Light!

Light is such a magical thing! There are many times if you watch me, I seem to be staring out into space when in actuality, the light has simply caught me imagination. I’ve never seen or experience the same light twice which is probably why I’m always out chasing it.

One of the really sweet things about Monument Valley is it plays right into my love of light. No matter the time, day or night, the light loves to play in this valley of stone. And it plays in ways you can often not expect. On this particular morning of our K&M Adventure, we were out in position on the second morning of the balloon festival waiting for the Mitten launch. It was a windy morning to say the least. The balloonist pulled in mass where we had parked and launched a couple of helium balloons testing the wind. We watched them race away and thought it was too windy for the big balloons. But they seem to see what then needed and headed down deeper into the Valley.

The sun wasn’t up yet but was lighting up the horizon when the vehicles took north on the road to the launch zone. No sooner than the last vehicle made the crossing when the sun sneaked over the eastern horizon. Right then the dust cloud from the vehicles lit up and the magic of light once again delighted my imagination.

Here’s the photographic problem. Our cameras can only capture 5 stops, the difference in light between the lit up dust cloud and the Mitten in shadow had to be at least 9 stops. What I was seeing with my eyes was information in the deep shadow of the mitten and the glow of the dust. That’s what I wanted to share with you. That’s the subject, that’s the delight of the light. With that knowledge, the photography part was pretty darn simple. All that was required a simple handheld, 5 image HDR that when processed, was done with my Basic Settings in Photomatix Pro. The key was to not let the shadow go black or gray but keeping it just right. Sharing a shadow my mind’s eye saw.

While the vertical is THE image for me, I shot both just to share with you the possibilities. Why is the vertical image THE image for me? All that extra blue sky on the left of the horizontal image takes away from the brightness of the glowing dust. I wanted you to just see that and only that. Because after a very short period of time, the wind had dispersed the dust and the show was over. But that’s often the delight of light!