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Spring Wildflowers at Hurricane Point

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 8 April 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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)
Summer Big Sur Photo Workshop - August, 17-20, 2010 (space available)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (1 spot left)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 JUST ADDED (space available)
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Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
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Photographers who attend my workshops soon learn that I rarely go out in the field seeking a particular subject to photograph. Certainly there are times when subject (say Arches NP Delicate Arch) is what I would like to capture, but I always begin by waiting for the right light. Sometimes this light arrives in the form of clouds, fog, or mist. Other times it can be the low sweeping sun that can arrive in the minutes following sunrise or just before sunset.

On this particular evening at Big Sur's Hurricane Point, while anticipating a setting sun bursting through an opening in the clouds (which by the way did not happen), the magical light arrived after sunset, and the challenge for me, and the group, was to find a suitable foreground subject to carry the scene.

I was just about to call it an evening when the sky magically began to come to life with vibrant red color painting the underside of the storm clouds. I cautioned the group to not be seduced by the color alone, but to challenge themselves to find something (anything) to place in the foreground. I must admit, the pickings were slim, but I immediately scanned the area for some small wildflowers (think ground cover) that some of my students had been photographing earlier. To make small flowers appear large in one's frame, one simply needs to get low to the ground (sometimes lying down), and using some form of a wide-angle lens to accentuate the flower.

Fortunately we had a calm night (rare at Hurricane Point) and I had been working with a student who had photographed these white California Saxifrage blooms earlier. I placed my 16-35 mmL lens close to the flowers, and used a Singh-Ray, 3-stop, hard edge, graduated neutral density filter to bring the exposure down on the sky and the headlands.

This was really a simple image to work on in post as I had captured it correctly in camera. My elements for a successful image had come together: quality light, and color. I did not start out that evening thinking, "Hey, I'll go photograph some wildflowers at Hurricane Point," but they did indeed become the subject of the frame. It is important to note that I did turn the camera horizontal, but I liked the vertical framing better.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 10 second F/16.0 ISO 400 23 mm

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