Showing posts with label Sunset. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunset. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2022

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Haystack Rock At Dusk

a photo of haystack rock at cannon beach oregon at sunset dusk

Wonders of the Pacific Northwest

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses:     GF 45mm f/2.8

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

California Sunset

Path To The Waves

I took this shot from a trail that led down a steep incline toward the water. There aren't many places in the Big Sur area where you can get close to the ocean. A lot of the coastline is on private property, and trespassing is strongly discouraged.

I was delighted to find a trail that went down so far. I hadn't explored this spot before, and I wanted to see what was visible as I got close to the edge. I wasn't looking forward to climbing back up to my car in darkness, but I didn't have to worry about that yet.

a photo of the sunset on the big sur coast in california

I discovered that the view at the edge of the water wasn't particularly spectacular. The vantage point was too low. I climbed back up the hill a little way until I reached this position and took shots in different directions.

This was the most dramatic view, but it was a complicated shot to capture. Setting a tripod up on a steep incline is always a challenge. There was a lot of vegetation, so there wasn't a lot of firm ground where I could place the tripod legs. On top of that, the wind was strong and getting rather chilly. I didn't have a good place to stand, so I had to bend my body in strange ways to compose and focus the shot. My feet got sore from clinging to the sloping path while recording long exposures.

Was it worth it in the end? I'll let you be the judge. It was an experience. Thankfully, the climb back up to the roadway wasn't as bad as I expected.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lenses:     GF 120mm f/4

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 12, 2022

Remembering Galen Rowell

Discovering The Possibilities

I had a casual interest in photography as a young adult. When I was growing up, my family had a black and white television. I got my most vivid view of the world through photographs published in magazines.

Cameras fascinated me. I was always a fan of gadgets, and cameras seemed like marvels of precision and craftsmanship. They also had the almost magical power to capture moments for later review. I dreamt of buying a nice camera one day and using it to take pictures of seashores, sunsets, and lighthouses. I subscribed to photography magazines and read them eagerly each month.

But the dream had to wait. I didn't have the expertise or the financial resources to pursue photography seriously. The camera ads in the magazines were more confusing than helpful. The myriad of choices seemed overwhelming.

I took snapshots with point and shoot camera. I recorded family events and short trips, and dropped the film off at the drugstore to be processed. The prints were reminders of places and events, but with rare exceptions, there weren't artistically impressive.

a photo of pfeiffer beach big sur california at sunset
Pfeiffer Beach Sunset - Big Sur, California

One day, while visiting a museum, I happened upon an exhibition of photographs from the Tongas, a rain forest in Alaska's panhandle. It was a surprisingly moving experience. The photos were beautifully colored and highly detailed. It was hard to imagine that such images actually came out of a camera.

The photographer was the late Galen Rowell. Rowell was a seasoned climber and wilderness enthusiast. He traveled the world capturing images of remote and surprising places for National Geographic and similar magazines.

These were impressive locales, but the magic of Rowell's photos was in their vivid colors, stunning detail, and surprising juxtapositions, like dramatic skies and rugged foregrounds. Rowell liked photographing in what he called "last light," a post-sunset glow of dim but saturated colors.

I found these qualities fascinating. I was immediately obsessed with this style of photography. I wanted to figure out how he had captured these breathtaking images and hoped that one day I would be able to make photographs of my own using a similar approach.

I drove to my local Borders, bought a few books about photography, and started studying. I bought a reasonably priced Nikon with a serviceable zoom lens, along with twenty rolls of the film that Galen preferred, and I got to work. Every week, I was shooting, experimenting, making mistakes, trying again, and learning all the time.

Sadly, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Rowell. He died in a plane crash on August 11, 2002. That was twenty years ago as of the writing of this post. Coincidentally, I am now the age that Rowell was when he passed away.

Inspiration is one of the most wonderful things that can happen to a human being. A magical moment can change the trajectory of our lives, taking us in directions that we never thought possible, leading us to places and experiences that we could never have imagined.

The Tongas exhibition set my photographic journey into motion. Seeing Galen Rowell's dramatic images printed in all of their finely-detailed glory was more than an inspiration. It was an awakening. It introduced me to possibilities in image making that I would never have imagined possible and to a fascination with the art of photography.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:         GF 30mm f/3.5

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Plane Flies By

Golden Hour On Central Park West

a photo of the new york central park west at sunset with a plane in the frame

A view of the El Dorado and Central Park West during a dramatic summer sunset.

Camera:    Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:         GF 120mm f/4

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Belvedere Castle At Sunset

Stone and Stormy Skies

a photo of belvedere castle in central park new york city at sunset
Belvedere Castle At Sunset

Architecture is grand, but nature is the finest artist.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:         GF 80mm f/1.7

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Post-Sunset Color - Gulf of Mexico

Last Light On Florida's Gulf Coast

a photo of fading colors after sunset from the florida gulf coast
Post-Sunset Color - Gulf of Mexico

Life just wouldn't be as much fun without sunsets!

Camera:    Sony a7R III
Lens:        Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2018 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pier At Last Light On Florida's Gulf Coast

At The Edge Of Light And Water

a photo of a Pier at sunset Florida Gulf Coast daniel south photography
Pier At Last Light On Florida's Gulf Coast

Camera:    Sony a7R III
Lens:        Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Gear Note: This lens is outstanding, sharper than the competition (I owned the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II previously) and sharp edge to edge.

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2018 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Desert Highway - Death Valley

Converging Lines and Calculated Risks

I made my first trip to Death Valley on a clear day in June when the temperature hit 122 F. I had recently become a photography enthusiast and wanted to capture some images of this majestic wilderness. 

In extreme temperatures, however, one shouldn't venture too far from the car. I made an attempt to hike to the Mesquite dunes but turned back quickly due to concerns over dehydration and heat exhaustion. For the rest of the day, I stayed close to the car.

I exposed the most memorable image of the day as sunset approached. I pulled the car off to the side of a stretch of roadway that had been freshly paved with deep black asphalt and painted with bright yellow lines. I mounted a 24mm lens on my trust Nikon F100 - yes, a film camera - and had my travel companion watch for cars approaching from behind me.

Of the handful of shots that I snapped, one of them turned out particularly well. I had several copies of it printed; a few of my friends still have that image hanging in their homes.

Returning to Death Valley some years later, I wanted to capture a similar image with the help of a tilt-shift lens. The tilt feature on this special-purpose lens enables focus to be repositioned from a vertical plane (typical for most cameras) to a ground-hugging plane that extends infinitely off into the distance. When the lens is adjusted correctly - which is a bit tricky - focus will be sharp on both the foreground features in the frame (e.g. the yellow lines and pavement near my feet) and distant objects as well (mountains, sky, brush, distant lines on the roadway). 

a photo of a desert highway at dusk in death valley

The stretch of highway that I had photographed years earlier was now gray and worn, but I found another location that appealed to my eyes. The surface was in good condition, it had been painted recently, and it stretched straight off into the distance where the last light of sunset was still visible. 

I was set except for one major complication. On this trip, I didn't have a travel companion. I had to rely on my ears and frequent glances behind me to keep from getting run over while focusing my camera in the middle of a highway. (Luckily, no one was drag racing through the valley that evening.)

As I mentioned before, focusing a tilt-shift lens can be tricky, and it becomes increasingly more difficult as the light fades. It's a manual process, but you have to focus for the near and far objects separately. By adding a small amount of tilt, typically only a degree or two, you can reach a point where both near and far objects are sharp. It's very each to add too much tilt, however, which messes everything up.

The process typically takes a few minutes even for skilled photographers - and even when you're not in mortal danger of being struck by a fast-moving automobile. Luckily, I had a lot of experience with my tilt-shift setup, so I was able to acquire the proper focus fairly quickly - while looking over my shoulder every ten seconds or so. 

Please don't attempt a shot like this without spotters. Even if you have someone - hopefully more than one person - watching your back, this kind of shot is risky to say the least. Just because I got away with it doesn't mean that it was a good idea. 

You'll think about it. It's tempting. My advice is to think about the future as you relax and enjoy the sunset a safe distance from traffic.

Camera:    Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens:        Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2017 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Power Of Nature - Gulf Of Corinth

Along The Road

We all face challenges and disappointments in life. 

Never underestimate the power of nature to soothe the soul. Sometimes, all you have to do is pull over to the side of the road, and there it will be waiting for you.

a photo of the gulf of corinth greece at sunset

Camera:    Nikon D800E
Lens:        AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2016 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Sunset - Death Valley

The Magnificent Majesty of a Desert Turned Cold

We tend to think of deserts as hot places. It might be better to think of them as surprising places.

In the winter months, cold weather prevails. Even in the spring and autumn, nighttime temperatures can drop toward the freezing point and beyond despite balmy daytime weather.

a photo of zabriskie point at sunset in death valley in winter
Winter Sunset - Death Valley

If you visit a desert region during the cooler months, please take these potential temperature swings very seriously. You'll need to be prepared for almost any type of weather. If you're exposed to frigid overnight temperatures without proper clothing, you'll find yourself in grave danger. I shot this photo wearing the same clothes that I wear while shoveling snow, and I was very happy when I was able to climb into my waiting car.

But along with that unexpected chill, you might experience some unexpected beauty, some magical light, and the magnificent majesty of a rugged landscape that holds surprises for intrepid travelers all year long.

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! And safe travels!

Camera:    Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens:        Canon TS-E24mm f/3.5L II 

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2014 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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Color of Film

California Lupines At Sunset

The possibilities of digital photography began to catch my interest in the late 1990s.  Unfortunately, digital imaging technology was still in its infancy.  I continued to shoot film while waiting for the quality of digital cameras to improve.

There's a certain mystery to film.  Waiting days or weeks to see the results of an exposure can be frustrating.  You can't take a peek at the LCD screen and recompose or make other adjustments.  You need to evaluate each scene carefully and commit to your most skillful prediction.  No matter how much experience you have with film, there are always surprises.

The surprises may be pleasant, even exhilarating; sometimes not so much.  I've thrown entire rolls of film into the trash bin over the years.  I've also been seen jumping for joy beside a light table upon receipt of newly developed chromes.  Unpredictability is part of the adventure.

a large format photograph of california wildflowers at sunset
Lupines At Sunset, California Coast

Color reversal film, commonly known as slide film, is amazing for documenting colors.  These films are sensitive to slight color casts that our internal optical processing system filters out.

Our brain filters colors possibly in an attempt to protect us from recognizable threats.  If a berry with a certain shade of red will make us sick, we don't want that berry to look differently on a sunny day than it does on a cloudy day, or at sunset versus high noon.  Unfortunately, this built-in safety mechanism reduces our ability to see colors accurately and objectively.

Film doesn't filter colors automatically, nor does it engage the automatic white balance functionality of a digital camera.  Film records any color that was present at the time of exposure including colors that humans can't see.  But here is the interesting part - when we look at a finished slide or print of the scene, we do see those missing colors and we see them accurately.

I have yet to discover a good explanation for this paradox in color perception.  How is it that colors once invisible to use become visible once they have been recorded by photographic processes?  This is yet another reason why cameras tend to yield surprising results.

Photography helps us to see and to understand our world more clearly by showing us what we were unable to see in the moment. 

Camera: Ebony SV45TE
Lens: Schneider 110mm f/5.6 Super-Symmar XL
Film: Fujichrome Velvia 100

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2012 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Taking Liberty

Statue Of Liberty Under A Golden Cloud

On my very first trip to New York City, I was struck by how small and distant the Statue of Liberty seemed out there in the harbor on its own little island.

The statue is actually quite large, but unless you're on a boat, it will seem small from your vantage point.

Most photos of the Statue of Liberty are taken up close with telephoto lenses.  It highlights the statue's features and crops out all traces of Staten Island and New Jersey.

a photo of the statue of liberty at sunset
New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty at Sunset

When I saw this cloud hovering over Lady Liberty I recognized a chance to shoot the statue in context while still coming away with a pleasing composition.

I tried to place the main cloud in the center of the frame while capturing some of his smaller friends around the edges.  I made certain that the camera focused on the statue and managed to pull the shot off handheld.

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon 24-70 f/2.8G

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Revelation At Pigeon Point Lighthouse

"We Take Pictures Of Light"

It sounded so simple at the time. While leafing through a magazine that I was about to recycle, I came across an interesting passage. It puzzled me at first, but it would become the single most important piece of advice I that would receive as a photographer. I don't even remember the author's name - and I apologize for not quoting him here - but I do remember his words. The idea stuck in my mind because it challenged me to think in a new way.

"We don't take pictures of people, places, or objects.  We take pictures of light."

It would be years before I would understand the significance of this message, but one evening at Pigeon Point moved me closer toward that realization.

a photo of the pigeon point lighthouse in california with spring wildflowers
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Ebony SV45TE, Fujichrome Velvia 100

Light. Photographers talk about light all the time - good light, bad light, quality of light, the right light, the direction of light, waiting for light. But what is good light and where do you learn about it? I don't recall seeing any books or articles on the subject. Magazines and websites talk mostly about equipment. Photography books explain principles of exposure and composition, but the subject of light merits little discussion.

When I bought my first "serious" camera and started pointing it at the world, I had very naïve ideas about what constituted good light. My early attempts at photography suffered as a result. I assumed that a technical understanding of exposure and lenses and filters would create memorable images.

As a budding enthusiast I made a trip to California in search of photo opportunities. I had a nice camera, decent lenses, and I was surrounded by world class scenery, yet the photos from that trip were not particularly memorable. They were technically solid - the exposure was correct and the focus was accurate - but the images lacked impact. My limited understanding of light was a big factor.

I did gain some insights on the trip, and over time with more study and experimentation I made steady progress. When I returned to California two years later, I considered myself to be a seasoned and knowledgeable photographer. But there's always more to learn.

On the last day of my travels I planned make a stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. It's one of my favorite destinations on the California coast. I would have limited time to shoot the sunset, then it would be off to the airport for an overnight flight.

Conditions were excellent. The calm air was clear and warm. Coastal plant life was in bloom. I was shooting during the last hour of daylight, the "golden hour" that landscape photographers pursue. I shot several rolls of film thinking that I was coming away with good images in good light. I was about to pack up and head toward the airport.

Then it happened. The light changed before my eyes. It morphed into something better, something amazing. It was richer, warmer, more colorful, and more magical than any light that I could remember having photographed before.  I was running short on time, but I couldn't leave. I needed to keep shooting. Luckily I still had some film in my bag.

I shot as many frames as I could. The light probably lasted all of about four or five minutes. When it faded, I quickly packed the car and sped off toward the airport. I was concerned about missing my flight, but I couldn't stop thinking about the majestic light that I had just witnessed. Why hadn't I seen it before, or if I had, why didn't I pay more attention? The photos from the entire trip would have been better if I could have anticipated and harnessed this phenomenon.

"We don't take pictures of people, places, or objects. We take pictures of light."

I was beginning to get the message.

Over the coming years I became a student of light. I actively pursued the conditions where the best light was likely to reveal itself. It doesn't happen every day, but I began to experience it more and more frequently as I learned what to look for.

Lighthouse Tower In Focus

On my next trip to California I shot primarily with a large-format view camera. The view camera has distinct advantages. First of all, the film is larger and can produce a finely detailed image when exposed carefully. View cameras also feature a flexible build. The lens and film planes are independently adjustable and linked together by a soft leather bellows. The flexible design helps eliminate distortion and solves some tricky focusing problems.

For instance, it's very difficult to get both near and far objects in focus. Usually, only one or the other will be sharp, but the view camera makes it possible to have them both in focus in many circumstances.

Foreground Flowers In Focus

At Pigeon Point I was able to use the special features of the view camera to keep both the flowers and the tower in sharp focus. The ocean has a softer, slightly out of focus look, which adds to the mood of the overall image. Luckily, I was very fortunate and met with excellent light on several occasions. The image displayed here is from one of those lovely sunsets.

A Note On Colors And Processing

Below I have included the original scan showing the film borders. I asked the technicians who scanned the file to add only enough processing to match the look of the original piece of film on a light box. They did an amazing job. If you view this piece of film on the light box it will match the color and contrast of the image that you see here. This is the advantage of shooting in good light. You don't need to apply a bunch of Photoshop tricks to make an appealing image. Recognizing good light is the biggest part of the battle.

a photo of the pigeon point lighthouse captured on fujichrome velvia 100
Same image with untrimmed film borders

Bottom line: It took a few years to develop the skills required to make this image, not the least of which was the ability to recognize good light and the conditions that foretell its arrival, and then to capture it effectively. The work that I put in over those years seems well worth it, as I carry the lessons of Pigeon Point and the magic of light with me every time I open my camera bag.

Camera: Ebony SV45TE
Lens: Nikkor SWA 90/4.5
Film: Fujichrome Velvia 100

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2012 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved