Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Even at the Magic hour--which for me, here in Idaho, are the last TWO HOURS before sunset--you should still be very picky where you point your camera.  Sure, most things look great in that warm light, but that's not enough reason for me to snap the shutter.  If the object I want to photograph does not have the direction of light from either side or perhaps back light, and I can't move the object to create that direction of light…I PASS IT BY.  I want more than just pretty light--I want three dimensionality and texture; I want shadows!

A great way to give your eyes a workout for light and composition is to visit a junk yard at the magic hour and walk through it with your camera and one lens (no tripod) and see how many artistic compositions you can create while watching for great directional light.
f16.0 @ 1/125 sec., ISO 400, Lens @ 65mm
The key to creating art from the jumble of stuff in the junkyard is "narrowing your vision"--Looking for the details in smaller compositions.  Many amateur photographers try to photograph too much--using too wide a lens.  That's why I prefer zoom lenses.  Once I find the BEST ANGLE where the light has direction
f9.0 @ 1/125 sec., ISO 400, Lens @ 70mm

and I have my SHADOWS then, with a zoom lens, I can create any number of compositions--both horizontal and vertical.  The reason I don't use prime lenses much is that once I find the perspective I want I like to maintain it while creating multiple compositions by zooming.  With a prime lens you must move closer to your subject for a smaller composition and that changes perspective and creates distortion (known as extension distortion).  If I want this kind of distortion I'll pull out my fish-eye lens and create something really wild!

Sometimes, though, I'll use a fairly wide focal length to help intensify a composition as in this image below:
f18.0 @ 1/125 sec., ISO 400 lens @ 32mm
Using my zoom at 32mm and filling the frame, with much of the wheel, the wide angle made the axle housing larger (making the DEERE logo larger) and making it a powerful lead-in-line to the wheel.
f11.0 @ 1/80 sec., ISO 400, lens @ 58mm

One of my favorite images on this outing was at the last moments of light just skimming part of this old tractor.  I moved my camera position to the shadow side of the tractor to create short-lighting on it's "face" with just enough light still crossing it's radiator.  Nice color and texture!  This is a good example of creating good light direction, when you can't move the subject, by moving camera position.

Sometimes attaining great light is about waiting for it.  Earlier I spotted this long row of shelves, packed with parts, that were mostly in flat, front light. I passed it by with a mental note to come back here because I knew, as the sun was setting to camera left, that the light would be great in about 30 minutes.

The hardest part here was WHAT to pick as my subject because these shelves of old parts stretched for 40 or 50 feet along an outside wall…and the light was moving fast.  Back to NARROWING YOUR VISION; I settled on this end of the shelves because of the rusted hoops at the bottom right of the frame.  The light was gone from the hoops 30 seconds after I took this image.

f16.0 @ 1/50 sec., ISO 400, Lens @ 45mm
All of the images I did this day were done with one lens--the 24-105mm f4.0--on my Canon 5D MKII and I used the full range that the lens provided!  It was really fun and I created many new images for my Idaho fine art archive.

As always, should have have questions please don't hesitate to ask…'Til next week.

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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