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Change of Season

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 4 November 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (Workshop Sold Out)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (hurry - only 5 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (just added)
New Articles on my Website: Combining Beauty With Beauty - Photographing An Athlete In Big Sur With The Help Of Smart Flashes And Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Remotes and Behind the Scenes at NHL and NBA Media Days

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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)

In our quest to capture the essence of a season such as fall, we (me included) tend to try and capture it all. Sometimes the scene calls for this grand view as with my previous post but often just capturing the essence, in this case the color, will translate the same visual message without the chaos created when we try to add too much information to the frame. I found this particular aspen leaf in a grove of aspens located at the 10,000 foot level in the eastern Sierra's Rock Creek Canyon. There was no wind issues to deal with a high cloud cover provided soft, even lighting.

After some futile attempts of creating an image of the entire grove, I decided to try for some macro images with my 100 mm macro lens and the magic began. It was just a matter of me changing my perspective to the leaf(s) I was photographing. I played with pairs, singles and even edges but liked this frame the best in the final edit because the flow from stem to leaf that added some visual movement in the frame. The carotene inside this leaf had turned the color from deep orange to what I call rare red as one doesn't always see red in Sierra fall colors (excluding snowberry bushes).

As I mentioned, the light was soft but not to the point of being dull; there is a difference. Light has direction even on cloudy days. This direction can be muted and rendered ineffective if the cloud cover is too thick. For this image, I was able to retain some luminosity contrast because the scene was soft but allowed for a specific direction for the light. It also allowed for some luminance contrast along the edges of the leaf and provided the much needed punch of color (in this case red) to excite our visual senses. The soft focused background provided the same spectral hue but was less intense thus it did not compete for the eye's attention.

In the book Artist's Eyes, written by ophthalmologists Michael Marmor and James Raven, they discuss the psychological and emotional response of color. In a section of the book dealing with color names it is written, Similarly, the psychological or emotional effect of colors is arbitrary and without any proven scientific basis. Red may represent heat, fear, or danger, but also may generate sensations of love, friendship, and sweetness. They go on to note that advertisers use color psychology on a regular basis and note that cultures (not our brain) are what generally dictate the implications of various colors.

I believe it behooves us as artists to learn about color and use it to our advantage when creating images. Pete Turner is an American photographer who creates images based solely on color and color contrasts. He has a firm grasp on color relationships and exploits this knowledge when creating his images. He is not a landscape photographer but nonetheless one can learn a lot about color relationships just by studying his work.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/50 second F/5.6 ISO 200 100 mm

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