Tag: photography

Don’t Wear “Pre-Visualization Blinders”

At the tail end of my recent two week Lake Superior tour, I decided to go after a shot I had been planning for quite some time. Although I had a long two day drive back home ahead of me, and I was exhausted after two weeks of shooting, driving, hiking, and kayaking, I nonetheless decided to get up at 4am and hike in the dark to Spray Falls, which plunge over the colored cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore into Lake Superior’s deep waters. Two years prior I had kayaked out to the falls in an attempt to photograph them from below, but couldn’t find a safe place to land my kayak near enough to the falls (the cliffs come straight down to the water and keep going, offering no place to stand, let along set up a tripod and camera). This time, I decided to try to find a good vantage point from above, from the beautiful North Country National Scenic Trail which follows along the lake shore. After determining that the sun was rising sufficiently far north this time of year to illuminate the falls at first light, I decided to be there in time for sunrise.

I got up early and drove to the trailhead, quickly assembling my gear for the hike. I turned on my headlamp, only to realize the batteries were near dead. No worries, that’s why I always carry a spare. I took out my second headlamp, which as it turned out needed new batteries as well. I had just enough power left to light my way for a little while, and since I new that it would be getting brighter as morning twilight set in, I wasn’t worried about getting stranded in the dark. So off I went, navigating the trail by the faint light of my headlamp, maintaining a steady pace as I hiked the first mile or so to reach the lake shore. Soon, I could hear the crashing of waves, growing steadily stronger as I got closer and closer. Once I reached the cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, I made a left turn and followed the North Country Trail for two or three miles to reach the falls.

Along the way, the light of dawn began to glimmer. I picked up my pace as I realized that the falls were father away than I had estimated, intent on reaching them for first light. I passed several nice compositions, all tempting me to stop, but I stayed my course. I really wanted to get a good shot of the falls! I finally got there, just in time for sunrise, only to wish that I had stopped somewhere else to shoot. I couldn’t find a good angle to photograph the falls, and I ended up getting something that, frankly, I would be embarrassed to ever see in print. It was a complete waste of a morning.

I had been blinded by my own pre-visualization. I had missed the chance to photograph several lovely scenes in great light, just because I was chasing a chimera that was conjured up in my own mind. I had failed to heed the call of the landscape around me, seduced instead by the Siren lure of my own imagination. It’s a lesson I have learned before, and will likely learn over and over again. It’s hard to know when to pursue your vision, and when to let go and focus on what is actually around you.

Lucky for me, as it turns out, it wasn’t a waste of a morning at all. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the hike, reveling in the solitude and the crisp spring air. And then I came upon this wonderful patch of large-flowered trillium, cascading down a sloping hillside, backlit by the still rising sun. My pre-visualization blinders were finally off, and I set about working the scene at hand.

"Spring Cascade" - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

"Spring Cascade" – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

I choose an ultra-wide angle lens for this shot, zooming out to 14mm so that I could include as many flowers and as much of the brightly lit spring trees in the background as possible. After carefully exploring the area (trying my best to avoid stomping any flowers), I found a particularly thick patch of trillium. Getting in very close to some of the showy blossoms in the foreground—I was only a few inches away—I stopped down to f/22 to ensure sufficient depth-of-field throughout the image. I used a polarizer filter to remove glare from the waxy leaves and intensify the colors. Shading the lens carefully from flare from the sun, I then waited for the slight breeze to calm before triggering the shutter. Backlighting often makes for tricky exposures, but the sun was still low in the sky, reducing the contrast in the scene sufficiently so that the sensor could capture the range of tones from light to dark in one image. The low angle of the sun and the backlighting also meant that the trillium and the forest canopy were alive with bold spring colors. Despite the cold temperatures (it had dropped below freezing at night), I soon found myself in a cloud of biting mosquitoes. I let them feast for awhile—now that I had found my shot, I wasn’t going to give it up until I got what I wanted—but when I was done I beat a hasty retreat, and began my long drive home.

So, I guess it was a good morning after all—for both me and the mosquitoes!

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 14-24mm lens (@14mm), polarizer filter, ISO 400, f/22, 1/10 second, about a pint of blood ”donated” to the mosquitoes.

Related posts:

  1. Play Fool to Catch Wise
  2. Apostle Islands, Lake Superior
  3. The End of the World

Chasing the Light – Improving Your Photography With Available Light by Ibarionex Perello – Book review

Chasing the Light – Improving Your Photography With Available Light by Ibarionex Perello. Published by New Riders

chasing the light

Chasing the Light is not just a ‘how-to’ book, it’s an inspiration!

I became familiar with the author, Ibarionex Perello, while listening to hours of his podcast The Candid Frame. Thanks to him, I discovered dozens of amazing photographers, some famous and some unknown. Ibarionex is also a published photographer, as well as an instructor at BetterPhotos.com and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Through this book, the author takes you on an adventure of discovery. His approach is quite personal in the way that each aspect of photography covered is illustrated with an image and the story behind it. His ability to convey the unmistakable feeling photographers get when they know they captured something truly special transpires throughout the book.

Right away, after reading the first chapter titled Beginning to See, you will undoubtedly look twice at the quality of light the next time you step outside with your camera. The author describes how the light directs him where to look; and his passion for his craft is evident in the first few words.

In the following chapters the author puts on his photography instructor hat and explains the elements of exposure, the importance of the color of light, and white balance. He will then take you step by step through the five visual draws as you learn how to “build visually”. His love for portraiture and street photography is also an important element in the book. The author gives easy-to-apply tips and techniques on lighting, from direct sunlight to open shade, from window light to the use of reflectors, flash and diffusers. His point is to get the “gear out of the way”, to learn your camera functions in order to use them efficiently to capture the feeling of the moment.

Chapter 7, my favorite, is titled Light and the Small Details. With examples of close-up photography and minimalist images, the author explains how he composes his shots according to his emotional response to the scene or object.

As Ibarionex Perello puts it so well: “The true value of photography becomes the appreciation and satisfaction of being in the moment.” No matter what level you are, or whether you shoot landscape, close-ups or street photography, you will learn something in this book. Reading Chasing the Light will inspire you to get out and make pictures in your own neighborhood. I can assure you that you will see the most mundane things around you in a whole new light!

Chasing the Light – Improving Your Photography With Available Light is listed for US $44.99 and is available at a discounted price on Amazon. If you want to know more about the author, I would highly recommend listening to The Candid Frame podcast!

Post from: Digital Photography School – Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.

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Chasing the Light – Improving Your Photography With Available Light by Ibarionex Perello – Book review



Tamron Photography Contest

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Bob Randklev

Internet Marketing - Web Design at CyberInnovation.com
I'm a life long entrepreneur with a passion for photography, technology, travel, real estate investing, business opportunities and living life!

I create amazing WordPress websites for people and organizations world-wide! http://CyberInnovation.com
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Tamron 1-Minute DSLR KNow-How Video
Theme: Photograph the local wildlife you find in your own backyard or neighborhood. Tamron will donate 25 cents per entry to the National
Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org)
Deadline: June 30 , 2010
Prizes PRIZES: The Grand Prize Winner will have his/her choice of one of the Tamron SP lenses listed here. Twenty finalists will be selected to be featured on Tamron’s website. Winners will be announced on 8/15/10 on the Tamron website and Tamron Fan page on Facebook™.

HOW TO ENTER: Email your lo-res images to webmaster@tamron.com, Subject line of email must read Tamron Backyard Wildlife Photo Contest. (Winner & Finalists will be contacted for hi-res images). By sending your images you agree to Tamron’s terms & conditions. Tamron reserves the right to disqualify any images that do not fit the theme of this photo contest.

RULES: View the complete rules by clicking here.

Iowa Sister States Photo Contest

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Bob Randklev

Internet Marketing - Web Design at CyberInnovation.com
I'm a life long entrepreneur with a passion for photography, technology, travel, real estate investing, business opportunities and living life!

I create amazing WordPress websites for people and organizations world-wide! http://CyberInnovation.com
My Channels

Latest posts by Bob Randklev (see all)

Click to view a copy of the 2009 Entry Rules for the Iowa Sister States Photo Contest.  The competition is held each year in Yamanashi, Japan as a way to promote a cultural exchange between our countries.

The deadline for entering is December 18, 2009.

Shipping takes about 7 to 10 days for photos to arrive in Japan.

Charley W. Starnes

Photography Salon Superintendent

Iowa State Fair

228 24th Street

West Des Moines, IA 50265

Phone:  (515) 225-2936

Cell:  (515) 729-1284

Email:  CharleyISF@Q.com