Here are a couple lessons I’ve learned about photography. This first one took me longer to learn than it should have. If you only shoot when it’s convenient – when you’re already there for another purpose, then you’ll only get tourist quality photos. If you choose the time and place ahead of time and go there for the purpose of capturing good photography, you’ll get much better results. It’s not convenient to drive or hike somewhere just to take pictures, especially if you have a busy, demanding life and a family. But I am learning that if I find the time, I am rewarded.
Second, time of day matters! In this post:
I was shooting in the same location, much earlier in the day. This time I went during the short window of daylight after I got off work on a weekday. You get much more pleasing results just before the sun goes down! And it was just my luck I arrived at high tide.
One more thing I am learning is to read the sky. As I go about my daily business, I watch to see if the sky would yield interesting results in a photograph. This evening when I was driving home from work and saw the sky, I knew I had to grab my camera bag and tripod and run to the nearest scenic location. Fall weather in western Washington most often looks like the photos from my Cape Disappointment posts – very grey and overcast. But cloudless blue skies are not much better. I had a great sky that evening though!
I was using my new B+W MRC F-Pro circular polarizer. I had been looking for a better quality polarizer for a few months. They are usually $120 to $150, which is a lot of money for a filter if you’re not a pro, even if it does rotate to make its effect more or less intense. But I found a used one in like-new condition for only $75. From my own observation, the more expensive and higher quality B+W has a more natural polarizing affect, and it doesn’t soften images the way my cheaper Tiffen CP filter did.
The problem with using any polarizer on a very wide angle lens, like my 17mm, is that you get dark and light areas in your sky (see above).
In the original RAW file, the bottom half of this photo is almost black. Amazing how much detail was hiding there! But after my Lightroom adjustments, the leaves were still dull. NIK Color Efex Pro 4 helped me bring out their color with its Brilliance/Warmth tool. This is probably a good time to add that most photos I edit with the Color Efex plugin get a treatment with the Pro Contrast tool. It is flat amazing what it can do to images all by itself!
The only bad thing about my timing that evening was that someone in the area was burning something and it was hazy and smokey out over the Sound. Editing cleared up most of it, but you can see the smoke along the horizon line. But I still pleased with the photos I got.
I think I overcooked this one. It was pretty dark, and when you try to lighten up a photo that much and then apply contrast as much as I did, the results won’t be the best. I just can’t seem to resist going for that saturated, high contrast look. Ah well, this is art, right? I have creative license to edit my photos until they look like a fresco painting if I want to.
Thanks for looking. Have a great day!