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Southwest Photography Adventure

Part 3 – Photographing the Sun

Late afternoon sun over the Three Sisters in Monument Valley © 2013 Bob Harvey

Late afternoon sun over the Three Sisters in Monument Valley
© 2013 Bob Harvey

One of the big reasons we love the Southwest is that it lends itself to big bold compositions, with strong simple lines.  Photographing the sun in the Southwest highlights some of the best of that – with shadows often dropping to deep blacks, leaving only the sun, the sky, a black outline of the landscape, and those interesting patterns the sun makes bouncing around inside your lens!

Sunrise © 2013 Bob Harvey

Sunrise
© 2013 Bob Harvey

Sunrise presents a great opportunity for such a design, allowing you to paint the sky with those early morning colors.

Sunrise © 2013 Bob Harvey

Sunrise
© 2013 Bob Harvey

And to design with big bold shapes and lines!

But, these days, with more bit depth and greater dynamic range in our RAW captures, there are even more opportunities.  Sometimes we can capture the drama of the sun, but also a sense of the scene – more than just bold outlines.  Sometimes we can create images that make us feel the bright sun pouring into the scene, washing color into an otherwise black and white world!

First light at the totems, Monument Valley © 2013 Bob Harvey

First light at the totems, Monument Valley
© 2013 Bob Harvey

Monument Valley © 2013 Bob Harvey

Monument Valley
© 2013 Bob Harvey

The recent improvements in bit depth and dynamic range have opened a whole new world of opportunities to compose – while including the sun!

Honeymoon Arch  © 2013 Bob Harvey

Honeymoon Arch
© 2013 Bob Harvey

And, don’t forget those great rays… like this pair in Lower Antelope Canyon!

Rays in Lower Antelope Canyon © 2013 Bob Harvey

Rays in Lower Antelope Canyon
© 2013 Bob Harvey

 

The world of photography has never been filled with so many opportunities.  There was a time when photographers were advised to keep the sun over a shoulder, never including it in an image.  Now, it is an important part of the landscape photographer’s subject.

Note that no special filters were used for the images above.  Neither was any special process – nor the integration of multiple images through HDR.

Join us next fall as we explore the desert Southwest in search of bold photographic opportunities.  We’ll help you master the techniques you’ll use to bring back dramatic images.  Check out our Southwest Adventure at www.naturephotographyadventures.com/workshop/monument.htm

 

 

 

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Southwest Photography Adventure

Part 2 – Photographing the Moon

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© 2013 Bob Harvey

 

In theory, photographing the moon should be rather straightforward, but it seems many people have some assumptions that get them tangled up.

First, the moon is a sunlit object, just like a mountain 0r a face in full sun.  Second, that light has a ways to go, and it passes through a lot of atmosphere after it bounces off the moon.  Still, one can, on a clear night make an exposure that is just 2-3 stops below a straight sunny exposure.  No need to have a long exposure – and the moon will move and blur if you do.

Moonrise © 2013 Bob Harvey

Moonrise
© 2013 Bob Harvey

That was the easy part, now the challenging part.  One has to figure out when the moon will rise relative to when the sun will set.  If the moon rises in a bright sky, it is hardly distinguishable from the blue around it.  If it rises in a dark sky, the foreground objects are dark or may not even separate from the sky.

Mittens at moonrise/sunset © 2013 Bob Harvey

Mittens at moonrise/sunset
© 2013 Bob Harvey

So pick a night when the moon comes up a little before the sun goes down.  Then watch for that magic moment when the sky around the moon is darkening, the foreground objects are catching last (but not too strong) light, and build an exciting composition.  Shoot fast, because the moon is constantly moving in relationship to the foreground, and the light is constantly changing.

Mittens moonrise/sunset 2 © 2013 Bob Harvey

Mittens moonrise/sunset 2
© 2013 Bob Harvey

There are countless ways to mix up late day light with a rising moon – and the Southwest is one of the best places to play this game!

Moonrise © 2013 Bob Harvey

Moonrise
© 2013 Bob Harvey

But wait, there’s more!  In the early morning, you can time things so that the moon is setting as the sun is rising.  And play the whole game again with similar rules.  Only, in the morning, you don’t have to work so hard to predict where the moon will be!

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Moonset
© 2013 Bob Harvey

We love to help people conquer “moon photography”.  If you’d like to get really good at it, come join us in the Southwest!

We’ll blog again in about a week – next time Focusing on the Sun!

 

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Southwest Photography Adventure

Part 1 – The Magic of the Southwest

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Eye of the Sun
© 2013 Bob Harvey

The Southwest is an amazing region to visit – and a great set of photographic opportunities for those who come with cameras!  Pop-out colors combine with big bold lines to carve out stunning compositions – and there is no end to the photography play that a creative photographic mind can encounter.

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Mittens at first light
© 2013 Bob Harvey

We love to bring photographers to this region.  Not only can we put them in great places in great light – but it is the perfect laboratory for participants to master a number of crucial skills.

In this land of strong lines and bold colors, one can tackle the issues of composition and design – without having to worry about working around the complexities found in many other compositional environments.  Learn it here – apply it everywhere else in the world!

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Late light in Mystery Valley
© 2013 Bob Harvey

This is the place to really grasp taking control of metering and exposure.  In this environment you can control the exposure, learn from your mistakes, review trials and adjust exposures until you have perfect images.  Along the way you can build an approach and rhythm that will pay you back everywhere you explore with your cameras.

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Dunes at dawn
© 2013 Bob Harvey

This is a land of deep saturated colors.  Here, often the dynamic range exceeds what one can capture in a single image.  This is a place to learn to design with color… and with deep black shadows…

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Lower Antelope Slot Canyon
© 2013 Bob Harvey

And a place where sometimes you want to throw away all color and “see” the composition in black and white!

Anasazi Granary in Honeymoon Arch, Mystery Valley © 2013 Bob Harvey

Anasazi Granary in Honeymoon Arch, Mystery Valley
© 2013 Bob Harvey

 

Our October 2013 group came home with an outstanding selection of new images.  Techniques were mastered.  Magic moments in nature were witnessed!  Adventures were shared!  We’ll blog more about this in the coming days!
Next up:  Photographing the Moon!

Don’t forget to visit our web page on the Southwest at http://www.naturephotographyadventures.com/workshop.photo.monument.htm

 

 

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