The Subtlety of Color

Bandon Beach captured by D750 / 14-24f2.8

Our vision and the “system” it is connected to within our mind and heart is such an amazing sensor to our world! When you contemplate all the info it takes in and relates to us in a heartbeat and without any thought, there are simply no words for it. Translating that input we have visually and matching it with our cameras, that on the other hand can be hand-to-hand combat at times. At times, it can take the joy out of the simple moment we’re trying to capture. This is what I’ve done ever since digital hit the office to make it all simpler.

When I see red in the sky, I set the WB of my camera to Cloudy. Cloudy actually represents a Kelvin temp, 6000k. Our AWB has a limit and in many cases, it is trying to “generalize” the light/color when we want a very specific color, in this case, that of sunset (or sunrise). Many want to do this in post which is of course is an option. I prefer to get it right in the camera making it responsible for getting my memory recorded correctly so that later, I don’t have to think about what was the color, I know because the camera got it right. Often, I will dial the WB up to 9-10k when the color in the sky is that deep, blood-red like the sun trying to make its way through wildlife smoke. It is your memory, you need to preserve it the way that works best for you. I’d rather not think about it, just feel it so I make the camera earn its keep and get it right :-)

It’s Monsoon Season!

Monument Valley captured by Df / 18-35AF

The summer monsoon season has arrived and so far is producing spectacular weather. The emotion and moodiness of this weather can be visually incredibly exciting, challenging and dangerous. Being out in the weather leads to the great images if you’re ready. Are you?

The first basic is watching the weather which is a lot easier now with the assist of our iPhones. TMRWWeather, MyRadar, and Lightning Pro are my favorite apps for watching an approaching storm and being prepared. Being prepared includes having the rain shell, the Miops charged (and firmware updated), white towel packed (as you’re going to get wet), and knowing escape routes if you get surprised. Much of the big weather is in the southwest where flash floods can become lethal. You need to know focal length, exposure as well as safety to make the most of this glorious season for landscape photography!

The Beauty of Wx

Thunderstorm Shelf Cloud, Rapid City, SD captured by crazy photographer with Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8 & Miops

Weather (wx) is the breath of the globe bringing with it demons and angels. A storm can be a curse and a blessing at the same time. It can bring needed goodness or evil, dark or bright, gray or brilliant red. I can go on and on but it’s simpler to wrap it all up in the simple word, emotion. It’s your emotional response to weather, you need to bring to your story, your photograph. Is there a trick to this? I like to keep one phrase in mind no matter the storm to bring out the beauty I see.

It’s the old phrase, every cloud has a silver lining. In our case though, I’m not looking for silver, but white. White and bright, no matter how big or small, when associated with dark, gloomy skies just makes that darkness, darker. The ferocity in the storm is implied even if not real, the imagination takes over. And when you tap a viewer’s imagination, the storyboard has been wiped clean and you can tell away. So just remember next cloud you have in your viewfinder, give it a little light and bright and you’ll bring out the beauty in wx.

I Hadn’t a Clue!

Moon over Kachemak Bay captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

I had no clue if it was a strawberry, harvest, super, blue, or the morning of the eclipse last month. All I knew was the moon was gorgeous (is it just me, were all these moon “colors” around when we were kids? No clue). The sun was setting after 11PM and from my room on the bay, I could watch the moon ever so slowly rise in the last glow of the day’s light. The color changed continually so I simply couldn’t put down the Z 6Ii / Z70-200f2.8. And while it was gorgeous, I had no clue how I wanted to bring that story home!

Yeah, I knew the basics to underexposure and focus on the moon and how to connect the lens to the body, but where I wanted the moon in the frame, how big or small, nothing just said to me, “THIS IS THE ONE!” So as the clock clicked by and the light and color changed, I changed up how I told the story. The image at the top I like the best of them, but not one just leaps out to me and that happens. It doesn’t mean I don’t shoot but it does mean that I will more than likely never share it.  In all reality, how are you to know the story if I hadn’t a clue?

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… and a Dollar Short?

South Dakota Badlands / Solar Eclpise captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 w/ Z1.4x

You’d think that getting up at 03:30 and in place long before sunrise, you’d nail it. Well, if you were trying to see and/or photograph the solar eclipse a couple of weeks past, you’d know that not only the getting up that early is required. If you’re in South Dakota at sunrise you’re way too far west to see it. Well, that fact really didn’t stop me, obviously. You then have to question if the shot itself is worth that effort? Now there’s a conversation to have!

If you have somewhat of a handle on dew point and winds and know the landscape, you might be able to guess how much “stuff” or haze might be in the air to make the sunrise more than just a glowing ball. A glowing ball does work if all the other conditions are in place. They were not in this case as when the sun broke the horizon, the haze simply wasn’t attractive. But just five minutes later as you can see, and the haze worked in my favor. You might be wondering about that tower, why did I leave that in. It can easily come out. I’m not sure why I like it, perhaps scale. I dunno, just did. The point is that when you have an opportunity no matter how bland or grand, follow your heart and you’ll always come out ahead and probably a dollar richer :-)

Summer Thunder

Blackhills Thunder captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8 & Miops

We went into dinner and the sky was filling with them big battleships of the sky forming up overhead. We had a great storm two night’s previous (below) and with prior history with storms in the Blackhills of SD, new what we saw walking in meant great fun. We walked out 90 minutes later to clear skies! I went to my wx apps and saw a storm forming on the dry line south of us so off we dashed. We drove an hour south only to see the storm going were we couldn’t across the vast landscape of South Dakota. Looking at the wx app again and dang if the storm over the Blackhills hadn’t reformed and even bigger and badder. Off we raced. We arrived to photograph what you see above. A few minutes after this exposure all hell broke loose and we were dashing for cover. Huge hail and two inches of rain pounded us for the next hour. The lighting lasted for over four hours and at times was so bright and so constant, the automatic headlights on the car turned off! It was the most magnificent storm I’d seen in a mighty long time. And our week isn’t over!!!

Photographing it was pretty much a darn slam dunk. Above was simple rig as noted in the caption with the Miops doing all the work. It was a simple as the Miops triggered the shutter, 1sec, f8 ISO 200 14mm shot. The bottom image was the old fashion, open up the shutter and let the lightning take its own photo. It’s exposure is 5sec, f8, ISO 100 at 70mm. I just love clouds and when they are shaking the earth, it’s just heaven with summer thunder!

Blackhills Thunder captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

Note: I use a Smal Rig ballhead to keep the Miops not only pointed at the clouds I want to focus on, but to prevent the lens shade from blocking the signal to the Miops.

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