Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Lone Guard, Sunset, Santa Clara Valley

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 21 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)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (5 spots remaining)
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).
New Articles on my Website: Review of Kinesis Filter Bag for Landscape Photographers
Join me as I am now of Facebook: Don Smith Photography on Facebook

Join me as I am now on Flickr: Don Smith Photography on Flickr

My preferred filters: Singh-Ray Filters

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)

I am very fortunate to live in an area where a 20-minute drive lands me in the middle of rolling hills and oaks. Oftentimes I will grab my camera and go for a drive to no specific location; instead, I simply follow the light. When I first decided to become more serious about my landscape photography 10 years ago, I would go to most locations alone. Over the years I have developed many friendships with different photographers who share my passion and rarely spend time by myself.

Yet there are those occasions that I simply want to experience nature and photograph in solitude. Often, I find myself able to concentrate better and I don't have to worry about getting a consensus should I decide to suddenly change locations.

Today's image was from one of those times where I just went on a drive by myself. Similar to my previous post, I had noticed that a subtropical flow was streaming broken clouds as sunset neared and I simply grabbed my camera bag and headed out the door towards the hills to follow the light.

My photography is really all about light and color. You've undoubtedly read if you follow my blog that I make those two elements paramount in my search for images. Subject matter really comes third with me. True I knew my subject matter on this particular evening would be these golden summer hills and perhaps some oaks, but when I left my home, I had nothing specific in mind.

I loved the play of warm light on the tips of the hills as the sun lowered against the blue sky. I found this scene located 90-degrees off axis to the setting sun and knew eventually the clouds would catch some sunset color. Now it was time to find the subject. This tree was rather isolated from the multitude of oaks that grow in this area, so I just played on that isolation theme. I simply changed my position relative to the tree to keep it on the low side of the sloping ridgeline, waited for the light to arrive, and made my image.

Is it always this easy? No, of course not. However, in retrospect, I was prepared. My checklist was as follows: check forecast - broken clouds, set up for the light - get 90-degrees from the sun, find the subject - rolling hills and lone oak - wait for the light. Really, I just try to keep it simple. If I am not prepared, I find myself missing the moment more often than not. Great light in nature is fleeting, preparation and arriving early cannot guarantee success but it can certainly tip the odds to your favor.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/4 second F/16.0 ISO 200 100 mm

My Website: "how to" articles, 2020 WORKSHOP LISTINGS, galleries, stock photos, and more...