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Crescent Moon, Pfeiffer Creek, Big Sur

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 15 January 2011 in Landscape & Rural.


Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
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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 (only 5 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Full Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - 3rd Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - October 9-13, 2011 (only 4 spots remaining).
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I have written many times about the joys of photographing dawn and dusk light, but is never ceases to amaze me at the mass exodus of photographers once the sun sets at virtually any location I am at. Dawn is a bit better as sleepy-eyed photographers arrive on-site (oftentimes at the last minute) in order to catch sunrise.

So my question is: Why don't more photographers see the benefit of shooting at these hours of the day? I see many awesome images on Aminus3 and think to myself how much more interesting the scene would look under the subtle and colorful light on the fringes of the day.

I have been told by many female photographers that they simply do not feel comfortable at these odd hours and I completely understand. There are times and locations where I am not exactly at ease with my surroundings, generally worrying more about animal than human species causing trouble. It is good to be aware of one's surroundings when photographing regardless of the day.

Face it, when we are alone we are completely absorbed in the moment. If one is concentrating while looking through the viewfinder then one is unaware of what is going on around them. My advice is to find some photographers in your area who share the same passion as you and who are willing to sacrifice some sleep or delay a dinner for the sake of working under this beautiful light.

I have one female friend who joined a landscape photo club and lamented that against her pleading, the group opted to do the majority of their shooting during the middle of the day. On clear days, I may not even fire my first frame until after the sun has exited the stage.

This image of Pfeiffer Creek was captured 30 minutes after the sun had set. The bonus was that the setting crescent moon became visible in the western sky, and the seductive warm tones of dusk reflected fantastically into the creek. I must add that I saw about 8 photographers leave before I captured this image. Besides myself, the two that stayed were professionals who do this for a living.

Like anything new, give dawn and dusk shooting a try. Coerce your spouse or friend to join you. My wife sometimes accompanies me and just likes sitting and feeling peaceful with the moment. The nasty contrast that the sun creates is gone - every tone in the scene fits nicely on your 6-stop sensor. This translate into better color fidelity and less work at the computer. Also, I believe you will be amazed at the amount of color your digital sensor pulls from the scene that your eyes/brain simply cannot see. This has to do with the disproportionate amount of cones (color transmitters) to rods (black-and-white transmitters) in our eyes but to the sensor, it is like a plethora of cones on supercharge! Try it and see for yourself - but bring someone else along so you can be comfortable with your surroundings.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 30 seconds F/16.0 ISO 100 21 mm

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