Livermore Falls, Campton, NH.
I’ve always loved the patterns and colors in the ice along the cliff and now I’m finally getting around to doing something with this image.
I’m coming to realize that winter might very well be my favorite time of year to make photographs.
Original date of capture: 2/6/2010
Camera body: Canon EOS 40D
Lens: Canon EF 17-40 f4L
iso 100, 40mm, f16 @ 1/4 second.
From late October through most of November, the most gorgeous golden light passes through the woods on the side of the road to my house. So far this is the best I’ve done to capture it. Taken back in 2008, only a few months after I bought my first camera, this is also my first attempt at HDR, not half bad if I do say so myself.
Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L
ISO 100, 45mm, f8 @ 1/100
Today? The weekly challenge theme this week is “Today.” What am I going to do with that?
What to photograph on a rainy day in New Hampshire? Too wet for any outdoor shooting, what do I have lying around just waiting to be photographed?
I’ve been eyeing the vase full of peacock feathers I keep for tying flies. Just like a lot of other things close by, they’ve been overlooked for subjects farther afield. Looks like a good excuse to play with the new 7D and 70-200 f2.8L. Throw in a 25mm extension tube and there you have it.
Decided one wasn’t enough for “Today,” so I added another.
Attempt Number One.
I love living on a lake, no surprise there. When I got my first camera, four years ago this month actually, one of the first things I knew I wanted to photograph was a sunrise over the lake. So one morning I grabbed my camera and tripod and went down to the beach closest to our house. There are a few boulders just a few feet from shore that I knew would be just the thing for that all important foreground element.
Being new to photography then, I figured all I needed to do was be there around sunrise, point my camera in the general direction of the rising sun, and wa-la, award-winning sunrise. Well it didn’t take long for that bubble to burst and realize that it takes just a bit more than that.
This is my first attempt, more of a “blue hour” photo than a true sunrise, but the clouds came in and this was as clear as it got.
It’s also pretty obvious, to me at least, that at this point in my journey to becoming a photographer I needed to learn a thing or two about composition as well.
My second effort didn’t turn out much better. If it wasn’t for the fisherman in the boat I’m not sure I would have kept the two images from this particular morning that have so far escaped the delete key. Not the most horrible photo I’ve ever made, but I don’t see any awards or sales orders in its future either. I do love the golden glow on the rippled surface of the lake though, so there is that going for it.
Third time’s the charm. I was all set to head to the seacoast in the morning, but just didn’t feel like getting up early enough to make it for sunrise. So I settled one more time on the lake.
One of the biggest reservations I have about putting much effort in shooting this lake is the utter featurelessness (is that even a word?) of the far shoreline. It looks like someone took a giant pair of hedge trimmers and went nuts. Not a hill or mountain in sight, just a straight, flat treeline. I was going to need a great sky, along with my already chosen foreground element to make it work to my satisfaction.
Yesterday morning it happened! And I almost missed it, can you believe that? I got up at 5 a.m., stepped out on the deck, looked up, seeing mostly clouds I seriously considered going back to bed. Then, while having my coffee I looked through the trees toward the lake and saw the horizon to the east was open. Not much, but enough to make me grab my tripod and camera bag and make a fast walk to the closest of our beaches. Knowing that with only a sliver of open sky at the horizon, things could be spectacular, but they would happen fast and be over quickly, I didn’t waste any time getting to the water’s edge.
Mother nature did not disappoint, and the sky lit up just as I had hoped. It also came and went as quickly as I had anticipated, so I was glad I picked up the pace when I did. At best, I had 7-10 minutes of the most glorious sky I have yet to photograph over “our” lake. And the reflection on the surface of the lake, I’ll just let the photograph speak for itself…
And to think I almost drove an hour to the coast…
How do you use your camera? Are you a spray and pray, fill up the memory card, and hope for a few good photographs photographer? Or are you methodical and contemplative about your photography, planning the shot knowing exactly what you want before you even think of “pulling the trigger?” I confess, I am a reformed machine gunner myself. When I purchased my first DSLR in the spring of 2008, I went nuts. If my memory card held 300 raw files, by gosh I was going to fill it! If I hadn’t decided early on I was only going to shoot raw, I could have come home with almost 1,000 jpegs, woo-hoo! I had studied long and hard on the mechanics of photography before I even had my first camera in hand. I could recite f-stop this, shutter speed that till the cows came home. I knew my Canon 40D and 100-400L inside and out before the big brown truck even dropped off the packages. But when it came to artistic side of it, the actual making of a photograph, I fully embraced the “digital is cheap, lets fill that 32 gig memory card” way of shooting. I put little thought into composition, lighting, etc., and relied heavily on “if I take enough shots I’m bound to get a few good ones.” You know what? It worked, to a degree. I could count on the camera to be pointed in the right direction, at the right time, in the right light, often enough that I did manage a few good images. But this created a workflow nightmare. Having to go through ten almost identical images to pick the “best” one, over and over again was brutal. Not to mention the plain crap that was there as well.
Now I push the shutter button less, a lot less. The more I fell in love with making images, and not just taking snap-shots, the more I thought about the images I was making. The more I took my time to creating my photographs, the more I realized I was actually pretty good at it. And good on purpose, not good by luck. I no longer hope for the best when I press the shutter button, I have a plan. That plan doesn’t always lead to a great photograph, sometimes not even a mediocre one, but I do have something in mind when the shutter clicks besides the hope that I’ll get lucky. I am a bit of a mad scientist at times, and experiment a lot with my camera, which leads to more than a little “what the hell was I thinking?” when I get home and download the images into Lightroom. But I no longer rely on luck, hope, and sheer numbers to increase the odds I got a keeper.
The funny this is, the less often I press the shutter, the more good photographs I make. The more serious I become about my photography, the more I know exactly what I want to come out of my camera, and how to go about getting it. I’m also putting more time and effort into being in great locations during great light. I’m also not afraid to not press the shutter at all. Many times I’ve been out with my camera and just didn’t see a photograph waiting to be made. I no longer feel that just because I’m out with my camera, having gotten up long before sunrise, that I need to take a picture. When this happens, I just enjoy the time outside, knowing there is always the next time.