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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

My Website: "how to" articles, 2018 WORKSHOP LISTINGS, galleries, stock photos, and more...

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Beautiful. In fact this is a superb work of color and light.

1 Oct 2009 8:11am

Judy from Brooksville, Florida, United States

Searching for light ... a wonderful lesson!
Glad you drive off into a ditch! :D

1 Oct 2009 11:30am

Eleftheria from Athens, Greece

5 STARS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

1 Oct 2009 1:37pm

Fred from Manila, Philippines

wow sir! another amazing landscape!as i would i have expected! excellent!

1 Oct 2009 1:38pm

@Fred: Thanks Fred.

Viewfinder from Bradenton, FL, United States

Wow! Great sky colors.

1 Oct 2009 3:03pm

Babzy from Besançon, France

stunning shot , naturel beauty !

1 Oct 2009 3:07pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Absolutely stunning colors. The reflections create a very mystical feeling.

1 Oct 2009 3:12pm

philippe from dijon, France

Paysage grandiose et superbe image, bravo, Philippe.

1 Oct 2009 4:02pm

Barbara Kile from United States

Stunning color! That would have left me so speechless I would have forgotten to snap the shutter. :)

1 Oct 2009 5:22pm

@Barbara Kile: Sometimes magical moments just happen in nature. I'm just glad I was present when the magic arrived at this location.

Tony Duque from Raleigh, United States

Wonderful shot, Don... and an interesting and informative real-world narrative to accompany and explain it! Seeing the potential and watching it come to fruition is great fun... nice job imparting the how-to of both. Thanks for sharing your terrific picture and a little of your vast experience!

1 Oct 2009 10:53pm

@Tony Duque: Thanks for taking the time to write Tony. Hope you come back.

Lambspun from Madison, Maine, United States

Like arms and hands with long fingers....enchanting...perfect colors....wonderful reflection!

2 Oct 2009 12:42am

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

fantastic play of light, colours and shapes! really well seen and captured!

2 Oct 2009 5:51am

@DarkElf: Thanks DarkELf, I hope you are doing well.

Sriram from Chennai, India

beautiful capture... amazing reds!!

2 Oct 2009 9:41am

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Whoa! Awesome! Those are the first two words that popped into my head when I saw this....You bring up a really great point about photography being all about the light- As a "new" photographer, I often get stuck on subject first, then try to anticipate, or wait out the light...I like the thought of working it the other way around! (Thanks for the star trail info, too!)

3 Oct 2009 12:09am

@Tracy: Hi Tracy, just got into my hotel in Bishop and was out shooting moonlit tufa at Mono Lake tonight. Hope the information on the exposures for shooting stars helps - remember - it is just a starting point. Good luck and have fun!

bluechameleon from Vancouver, Canada

Wow...this is beautiful!

3 Oct 2009 1:20pm

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Don, absolutely fantastic - just 15 minutes from your house - wonderful light! This is the most beautiful cow pond photo I have ever seen! I like the fence in the distance also - I hope you're having a great week - it is dang cold this morning!

4 Oct 2009 3:16pm

@Scott F. Schilling: HI Scott, Gary, Mike and I headed to North Lake this morning (elevation 10,000 feet), snow everywhere. Tioga Pass is closed as is Hwy 108. Mike is trying to get home today.

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Wow! Absolutely outstanding! 10/10

11 Oct 2009 11:08pm