Monthly Archives: September 2011

Water Flow, Keystone, Colorado

Water Flow, Keystone Colorado

Many visitors to my gallery, and almost every one of my field seminar participants, are fascinated by the silky, ethereal look of flowing water found in my images. While I often have moving water as a part of my landscapes, for this image I made it the main subject. During my recent workshop in Keystone, Colorado I took the opportunity to stroll along the river while everyone else took a mid-day rest. I set up my 4×5, focused on this mini-waterfall, and framed the image with beautifully iron stained rocks. Given the time of day, I added my warming polarizer, a 3-stop split ND filter (which I allowed to cover the whole frame), and then I patiently waited for a cloud to block any direct sunlight. Along with using 100 speed film and a small aperture, I was able to extend my exposure to 8 seconds. This process gave a nice silky look to the moving water, while the relatively bright, cloud-filtered light gave a nice punch to the red color of the rocks. The final image is simple, with an impressionistic feel. The red rocks add a punch of color and contrast with the white water, as well as a bit of fine detail to anchor the softness of the water.

Photo Tip:  Moving water will start to appear “silky” using exposure times of at least 1/4 of a second. Experiment to see how soft you actually want the water to look. The longer the exposure, the less detail and greater the soft, foggy appearance. While we can use neutral density filters and polarizers to slow our exposure times in brighter daylight, I prefer overcast days, shaded light, or pre-dawn / post sunset conditions. This gives an even exposure, eliminating the concern of hot spots in the image.

Equipment: Canham 4×5 Metal Field Camera, Caltar/Rodenstock 210 mm lens, Gitzo 1325 carbon tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, Fuji Velvia 100F  4×5 inch transparency film, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, Singh-Ray 3-stop split ND filter.

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Light “Selection”, Reflection and Beaver Pond

Beaver Pond, Spring Reflections

 Many of you will remember my facebook posts from the scouting I did of this lovely beaver pond here in South Lake Tahoe. Along with a reasonable iphone image I shared, I posted a sweet portrait of my professional assistant, Toby (6), capturing his own rendition of the beaver pond and its inhabitants with a little digital camera. He always gets a great response, and ads huge joy to my excursions. Well, I returned the following morning to capture this beautiful moment.

 I was drawn to this scene for its sheer tranquility. Seemingly every shade of green in the spectrum (very welcome after a never ending winter!), along with the beaver hut, all reflecting in the still waters of the calm morning. I loved the composition and the feeling, but I still had one very important decision to make; in which light should I expose my film? I was hoping to capture the scene with everything in shade and a glowing reflection of the mountains and trees above the background lit with warm morning light. Well, the light didn’t enter the scene evenly, so that wasn’t an option. Fortunately, I arrived early enough to be set up and created this exposure with ambient light softly illuminating the scene before me. After everything was lit by the sun, I felt the image lost its soft relaxing quality. Overall, this image conveys the mood I was after. From the green color, to the stillness of the leaves, the depth of its layers and the mirrored reflection, the natural perfection of the moment takes me to a place of serenity. This wasn’t exactly what I had pre-visualized, but stayed open to what Mother Nature had to offer, and let my feelings influence the final image. I love it!

Photo Tip: Light is the name of the game in photography. I prefer to use only one exposure, so I pay special attention to each phase of morning and evening light as they relate to my subject. This is important for proper exposure, but also for setting the mood of the image and how it conveys my feelings of the natural experience. For sunrise images like this one I like to arrive well before sunrise in order to experience the transition from night into a new day, and to give myself the opportunity to compose images with each phase of changing morning light. While there are many possibilities as the light changes, I like to be conscious of my feelings as the light transitions. My goal is always to share that moment in time, in that place, that makes me feel a special way. If done well, that moment in time can become eternal, and make the lives of its viewers that little bit better each time they view the image.

Details: KB Kanhan 5×7 metal field camera, 2 1/4 x 6 3/4 panoramic back, Gitzo 1325 carbon tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Rodenstock 150mm APO Sironar S lens, Fuji RDPIII Provia transparency film, no filters.

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