Magestic Death

Dead, white trees are often magestic. Last week I happened to travel the same long road several times. Along the way I spotted several dead trees that stood out starkly against the colorful landscape. They are strange gray scale structures in an otherwise colorful world.

Although I have photographed purposefully in the past, this shoot has been the most thoroughly planned. In preparation I read up on landscape photography, cleaned my lens and sensor, and researched lighting conditions.

When photographing outdoors the two best times of the day are early morning and late afternoon. The shadows produced during these times give a sense of depth. An image shot at high noon will typically appear flat. So how does one figure out when the best light will be for a given date and location? This was my dilemma last night. I began googling webcams in the Tampabay area. The one I found was a time-lapse camera for the construction of a condo building in downtown (http://www.oxblue.com/client/rjgcameras/skypoint/). I pulled up all images captured yesterday (Jan. 5). The image taken at 7:01 am is the first one showing sunlight and is an interesting moment when colors are soft and artificial light is still visible. Very pleasant indeed. But, when you click on the next image (7:16 am), all the colors become muted. Skipping ahead two images to 7:43 am shows shadows that are very long and light that has a golden hue. Of course, most of the frame is in the skyscraper shadows but the difference is clear. A few notes about this technique: Most images produced by webcams are not nearly this clear or half as large. You will be hard-pressed to find such an accurate representation of light in real time. Also, for the times to be accurate, your shooting location must be at roughly the same longitude as the webcam depending on the time of year. If it is not, you can of course attempt to make adjustments.

All that was left was to clean my lenses, dust my sensor, and pack my equipment. These are my picks at each shooting location. They were all taken in the early morning on the side of the road (52 between 75 and 589). Overall the trip went according to plan. The morning light is fleeting and rapidly becomes less interesting. A few opportunities were missed for time. A house on a hill, a few interesting old airplanes, etc. The lessons learned were thus:

*fog negates most of the early morning shadows
*fog is hard to expose for
*keep a lens cloth handy because of the fog and the dew dripping off trees
*the cheap finger blower is not powerful enough to clean a sensor

It was a fun experience and I plan on returning to those same locations at dusk at a later date. In the meantime, I have a new toy that I’ll be reviewing shortly (HINT: it comes with a stylus). Unfortunately, I didn’t do much serious photography over the holidays, mostly just family snapshots. I’ve also been busy with a few projects: I installed an in-ceiling speaker in the shower with wall plate for my ipod (my morning news source). I re-arranged my office to accommodate a new computer desk and matting table. I’m also in the process of setting up Fedora on an unused machine to host my family’s various WordPress blogs (and my as yet unfinished personal blog BTW). It is going to be a busy year so stay tuned! ; )


2 Responses to “Magestic Death”

  1. 1 DO
    January 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    after looking at these i think i am going to have nightmares tonight.

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