We just completed a 10-day photography trip. We covered about 2,500 miles between Las Vegas, Nevada and La Conner, Washington; we shot 15 locations, hit all but 3 sunrises and 1 sunset and covered over 10,000 feet of elevation. We shot mountains, beaches, forests and bridges and lighthouses. In short, we had a blast and completely exhausted ourselves.
Landscape photography is unlike any other endeavor. It requires knowledge of photography, hiking, survival and planning skills. It is not unusual to find us out hiking in the pre-dawn darkness to do a sunrise shoot and hiking back in the dark after a sunset shoot. It requires good reliable equipment and through understanding of how to use that equipment so you can find the buttons to adjust the settings. That is before you even consider the knowledge associated with the camera menus and the features and uses of lenses and filters. It also requires a certain flexibility about signage at parks and waysides. Just what does “open dusk to dawn”really mean? You need to know when to park outside the gates of public places, and which gates will be left open.
Perhaps the most important skill/attribute is stamina. We shot almost every morning. This meant we were out of bed, dressed and heading to the location around 4:30 AM and waiting for the sun around 5:30 AM. It also meant that we didn’t hit the sack until around 11:00 PM after returning from a sunset on a beach and having to clean all the salt spray off the camera gear. We drove around 200 to 300 miles most days. A lot of that driving was on mountain highways. When we arrived at a desired location we hiked in during daylight hours to scope out shoot locations for both sunset and sunrise.
I can’t think of any other activity that has so much activity built into a single day. Although it was exhausting, it really is living to the max!
If you would like to see more of the images from our trip, please visit http://www.zfrontierphoto.com and click on the Gallery button, then look in the collection of “NEW” images.
Landscape photography is most interesting at sunrise and sunset. Photographers talk about the golden hour, the 30 to 40 minutes before the sun dawns over the horizon and again just as the sun is setting and for the next 30 to 40 minutes. When the sun is low, there is wonderful light. At this time of day, the red rocks of the southwest seem to glow from within. Landscapes seem to come alive. However, the rocks and trees and bodies of water are usually only a part of the picture. The sky is also an important component of image. After a beautiful sunny day, you would expect that photographers would find ideal conditions for some early evening photography. However, clear skies do not necessarily produce the most pleasing images. Instead, photographers hope for some clouds, but not so many that they cloak the horizon. A clear horizon and a scattered set of clouds can be extremely beneficial. The clouds provide a surface that can reflect the first or last rays of light. Under the right conditions, the sky can seem to light on fire. The color in the sky can bring beautiful drama to photographs.
After a mostly clear day spent walking the dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah, we set up for some sunset pictures of the dunes. In the late afternoon, a fairly thick layer of clouds developed. We set up to photograph some dunes in the east, hoping there would be a break in the clouds and the last rays of sunlight would generate a beautiful glow to the hills of sand. The time of the sunset came and we didn’t get the effect that we were expected, but turning around and surveying the hills to the west, we discovered that the clouds had lifted a little from the horizon and we were going to be treated to a little evening color.
The picture above was captured with a Canon 5D Mark III, with a Canon EF 24 – 105 lens at a focal length of 40 mm with a 2 sec exposure and the aperture set at f/16.
Frequently, bad weather creates great picture opportunities. Bad weather at sunrise and sunset magnifies the effect. Today’s photograph comes from a series that we shot at Cap Sante Boat Haven, Anacortes WA. Cap Sante is often our weekday home when we live on the boat in the summer. The picture is one of our collaborative efforts. We had the camera out to shoot a couple “happy snaps” of the clouds as the rain ended and the sun was setting. The storm also brought wind and the marina was still getting small choppy waves. We had the camera set up facing out one of the windows of Ocean Mistress. The low light and boat motion from the small waves made it difficult to get a sharp image with the prolonged shutter-speed. With Corinne’s encouragement we moved the camera to a more stable position on the dock, set up the tripod and reframed the shot. This is one of the series that resulted from our efforts. We have very different styles in the way we capture images. It is rare for us to collaborate so effectively on a shot and get a result that makes us both happy. We hope you enjoy the image as well!
The shot was taken with a Cannon EOS 60D set in Aperture Priority mode., using a 18 to 135 mm lens f/3.5 at a focal length of 45 mm with a UV filter. The ISO was set at 100; f/22; 1.3 sec; exposure compensation of -0.67. The saturation setting was turned up to +4. The picture was slightly crop using “Aperture” software but is otherwise unchanged.