As autumn approaches and the gray clouds take residence here, I realize that I can stop being afraid of flat or filtered light.
Earlier this year, I didn’t know how to work with flat light well. I grumbled about it in June/July (ex: here and here). But now, I know I need to choose my subjects accordingly. I shot this plant in natural filtered light, then applied some post-processing in Photoshop. And the textures really made a difference, leaving more for the eye to see.
I like how details pop more in overcast conditions. Subtle striations and ripples are more obvious. So now that the days are getting shorter, and the sun is less intense, I’m a little more interested in textures rather than contrast.
Recently, my husband challenged me to shoot more color images. I told him I’d give it a go. I guess I am slightly resistant to doing color. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my early photographic education (studying graphic communications back in my college days) was in black and white film photography. I did not take any color photography. So I do need the practice.
Heading west on the I-15 from Utah to California, my friend and I came upon this scene. It reminded me of the undiscovered west and hopeful settlers. It reminded me of family car trips and my mom’s cat-eye glasses. It reminded me of grand journeys. I felt nostalgic as we passed through these mountains, as if we traveled through time for just a few minutes.
This was taken with my iPhone on the road trip back home. I was lucky that a summer storm hovered over the desert. The clouds created a beautiful, changing display of light and shadow. And some managed to cling to this mountain range.
Here is a quiet place, but you wouldn’t guess that I was with hundreds of visitors from all over the world. As I hiked through Zion Park with my friend, I was struck by the numbers of people, young and old, standing in awe before canyons, waterfalls and meadows. Yes, we all need nature.
I live in the city, and I enjoy city life. I work mostly indoors, and I sit a lot. But I need to remember to break my routine and connect with nature.
Everything about my biology requires it. I need sunlight for good health, fresh air for oxygen, open spaces for my eyes to work well, variable terrain for an agile body, a changing environment to challenge my brain.
Sometimes, modern life makes me forget that I’m human. But no matter what, I will always be beholden to nature.
UPDATE 10/20/15: I added a sepia-toned version of the above photo. After many tries, this was the technique that worked for me. In Photoshop, I just added a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer, chose the Sepia filter option (color slider at 100%), and changed the Layer option to Soft Light (Opacity slider at 100%). You can also use Overlay if you wish. Thanks to John for challenging me. (NOTE: I’ve noticed that I get better results in the shadows, if I clip the heaviest blacks.)
One of the challenges of photographing Zion is the high contrast light. Since Zion is a deep canyon, my photos captured dark shadows against very bright, sunlit areas. So I had a hard time balancing the exposures. I don’t particularly care for shooting in HDR, but I haven’t figured out the best solution. For now, I just balanced what I could in Photoshop.
Another challenge is the scale of the canyon. Next time I go, I will have to get a wide angle lens.
Shooting in Zion was a great learning experience. I hope to improve my skills so that when I return, I’ll have better photos.
Last week, we were shorthanded at work, so I had no time to post anything.
Thankfully, a few months ago, my friend convinced me to go with her on a getaway to Zion National Park in Utah. That trip happened this past weekend.
All I can say is wow, what a beautiful place!
So I’ll be processing a few photos for the next few days and will post soon. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to take a lot of photos. But someday I will definitely go back, specifically to photograph the majestic park.