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Morning's Reflection

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 1 October 2009 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 4-8, 2009 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (5 spots available)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (space available)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (8 spots available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 2010 (Exciting details TBA soon)!

I often tell my workshop students that I really don't go out to photograph subjects. They generally look at me with a quizzical look until I explain that I go out looking for quality light and color. Once I find the combination of the two, I scramble to find something to use that works with the light.

Such was the case on this morning as I started driving about an hour before sunrise on some of the country roads near my home. I first spotted this cloud hanging overhead and saw that I had a clear sky to the eastern horizon. Now the game was on. I knew once the sun got near the horizon, the underside of this cloud had a great chance of being bathed with warm light.

I continued driving and searching the gradually emerging landscape and about drove off the road when I rounded a turn and spotted this small collection pond. I frantically pulled the car over, put a 24-70 mmL lens on my full frame camera and composed this frame.

Once the anticipated light arrived, I was rewarded with not only a beautifully lit cloud, but also an awesome reflection. I used a Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge split neutral density filter to balance the cloud and reflection. I try to keep my reflections about a stop less than the lit cloud to keep things looking natural. The light was fleeting and I may have had about three minutes of intense light at best.

This formula of finding quality light and color, then subject, has served me well over the years. Photography is really all about light, and if I was to have shot this simple composition at say 3 pm in the afternoon, most people would not look twice. But ordinary scenes can look extraordinary under quality light, one just needs to take the time to look.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II 2 seconds F/22.0 ISO 200 30 mm

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