Friday, June 21, 2013

Manarola and the Magic of Dusk

Balanced Light

In places where exteriors are illuminated by electric lights, a visual phenomenon occurs each morning and evening.

When the intensity of the light from the sky matches that of the exterior lights, the light sources blend together in a way where neither dominates.  The warm colors of the artificial lights with the cool blue of dawn or dusk to create a unique mix of tones in minimized contrast.

a photo of manarola at dusk cinque terre
Manarola At Dusk - Cinque Terre

The dusk sky darkens quickly. It's best to get the shot before the blue color fades to black. Warm, artificial lighting and the bright colors of the buildings contrast with the blue background to powerful effect.

Timing is critical. In a few minutes, the contrast will be overwhelming. The lights will appear harsh and glaring against a black sky. But in this moment, the balance enables us to see everything.

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Abandon The Plan!

Know When To Follow Your Inner Voice

While visiting Death Valley, I considered taking a day to photograph the Racetrack Playa. Unfortunately, it didn't fit into my schedule.

The Racetrack is in a remote section of the park. Reaching the area requires a sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicle with special tires - forget about taking your rental car. I only had a few days to see the entire park, and a long side trip just wasn't practical.  

But strange things happen in the desert, and I started to hear a voice.

"You've always dreamed of seeing the Racetrack. You're so close!" the Voice insisted.

"Yes, I know, Voice," I replied. "But I have only three days to see the entire park. I don't have time for an off-road excursion. I'll have to come back and see The Racetrack on another trip."

"Another trip? When? What if that never happens?"

"Don't be so negative, Voice! Besides, I have already planned my itinerary."

"And you can't change a plan?"

"I could..."

"Look, you've come this far already! It would be a shame to leave without seeing the sliding rocks and experiencing firsthand one of the world's great mysteries."

"I know! I would really like to go, but I would have to change all of my lodging reservations."

"Why don't you ask the desk if they'll let you stay for another day or two? Then call the next place to see if you can arrive a day or two later."

"Okay, I'll ask. But they might be booked solid."

"And they might not."

"I would also need to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and who knows what that involves."

"Good news! You can rent them near where you're staying."

"I have no idea how much it would cost or whether any vehicles are available. And what insurance coverage I would need."

"There's this invention called a telephone. You should try it sometime."

"Okay, Voice! I'll make a call! - You're annoying, do you know that?"

a photo of the Racetrack Playa At Sunset Death Valley National Park
Racetrack Playa At Sunset - Death Valley National Park

As you may have guessed from the photo above, the Voice won. I extended my stay in Death Valley, rented a Jeep, and set out early the next morning on one of the most rewarding adventurous of my life.

The Racetrack was amazing beyond words, a truly one-of-a-kind destination. The weather became quite pleasant once the sun came out, although it was below freezing when I arrived before dawn. I had a lot of fun exploring the playa and photographing the trails left by the rocks.

Of course, like any photographer, I hoped that I might be able to capture a dramatic sunset to cap off the day. A nice cluster of cumulus clouds showed up at just the right time.

Death Valley is amazing, and the excursion to the Racetrack Playa was one of the highlights. I would have regretted missing out on this.

In fact, I had so much fun at the Racetrack that I made a second run out there on the following day. Anyone who has ever driven the thirty-two miles (one way) of washboard road that leads to The Racetrack can appreciate just how much of an adventure that was! 

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon TS-E24 f/3.5L II

Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved