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Dawn's Magic, Central California

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 21 January 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (space available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 17-20, 2010 (space available)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 3-7, 2010 (space available)
New Article on my Website: Balancing Images in Post Processing

Books Available for Purchase on my Website:
Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
The Photographer's Guide to the Big Sur Coast (e-book version - 102 pages)
On the Edge (printed version - softcover and hardcover - 120 pages)

Oftentimes as nature photographers, we feel the urge to travel many miles, to exotic locations, in hopes of capturing a unique image. I've been thinking a lot lately about "unique images." Because I teach workshops and private lessons, I'm around iconic locations on a regular basis. Every time I'm at a location that either I, or a multitude of others have photographed before, it is foremost in my mind to come up with something a little different, something that is uniquely my vision.

I really believe landscape images can be found everywhere, and I preach this to my students. Granted, everyone wants to shoot places like Yosemite, Arches, and the Grand Canyon, but you must ask yourself, "What can I do differently with these locations? What is going to make my Tunnel View image or my Delicate Arch image different from what has been done before?

As a professional, especially one trying to sell stock (which is almost laughable nowadays), I have to constantly strive for unique and different. Digital has made a photographer out of nearly everyone, and that is a good thing in my view, because it forces me (and my fellow pros) to push the bar higher than ever to compete. We can all shoot with professional quality cameras and lenses, we can all learn Photoshop and other imaging software, but what will make your images stand above the rest is your unique vision.

One of the ways I have decided to look for "different," is to start looking around the area I live, which is San Benito County, located in the southern end of the coastal Santa Clara valley in central-California. Today's scene is one I have passed thousands of times without nary a thought to photographing it. The other morning while driving my son to school, I once again passed this scene and began to think, "That has potential under the right light."

Being a faithful weather-watcher (I'm and amateur meteorologist at heart), I got up early after learning that a series of Pacific storms were heading our way. While still dark, I turned on my computer and logged onto the National Weather Service sight to check out the Doppler radar. The main brunt of the storm was still off the coast, and the satellite was showing broken clouds. I quickly grabbed my camera and headed to this location (exactly one mile from my house). I setup my tripod in the morning darkness and began my wait. My persistence was finally rewarded with this beautiful morning light, though brief, but I was able to capture this scene in one frame with no graduated neutral density filter.

My lesson (which was reaffirmed with this image) is that there are indeed images to be found in even the most common of locations with the correct light (dawn and dusk light oftentimes hold the magic). I challenge all of you to look around where you live for potential images, you might be surprised what an old friend looks like under the right light!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 13/10 second F/16.0 ISO 200 70 mm

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