The Magic Hour

What is the best time to photograph the landscape? The magic hour of course! The magic hour is a half hour before and after the sun rises, and a half hour before and after the sun sets. I'm guessing most of you already knew that, but what is better, morning or evening? The magic hour in the morning is the best! Evening light is great and both magic hours possess the best quality, direction, and color of light available for shooting the landscape. The quality of light is soft and warm, the direction is pleasing and will help define and give depth to your subjects.

So why is morning light better? As the sun heats up the air, the air will hold more moisture. Makes sense right? More moisture, equals more dust and other particles in the air. Therefore the best magic hour is in the morning when the air is the coolest, and there are less atmospheric obstructions. To take this a step further, the best light, meaning that there will be the least amount of atmospheric obstructions, will occur on a cold winter morning. The colder the temp the more clear the air will be.

Now that you know this, will you get up early to see the sun rise?

This weeks post image was taken a few minutes before sunrise. The sun provided the color to the otherwise dull clouds as the moon was still up and shining bright.Shisler -Lake-Photo

HDR Photography

HDR Photography has an ongoing debate among the professionals. Photographers either love or hate HDR Photography. Those of you that don't have a clue what HDR is, it's the blending of multiple exposures into one photograph. This process usually takes place in a software program such as Photomatix or Photoshop. This isn't going to be a tutorial just an opinion on HDR. To learn more about HDR  check out the king of HDR Photography Trey Ratcliff.

The people that like HDR photography the most seem to be the average person that has no idea what HDR Photography is. The people that hate HDR the most is the photography purists that believe that it has no place in photography and believe its more a graphic art.

I myself don't really care one way or the other as long as the photograph looks good. This weeks post picture was taken handheld using the HDR technique. In a situation like this I would normally use my ND grad filters to darken the sky a bit so I could get the exposure I was looking for but in this case I was driving when I happened upon the scene. Instead of getting out my tripod, getting out my filters and making this a long drawn out ordeal (besides I was trying to get to a spot for sunset) I decided to use HDR.

You can see what I was faced with in terms of the back lighting and the bright sky with the dark foreground. Not very appealing

HDR photography is just another tool in the photographers toolbox. Whether you choose to use the HDR "tool" is up to you, but for me it's a tool I will always have in-case I need it.

 

 

Ojai Valley California

Ojai Valley California is a beautiful small town located east of Santa Barbara. The valley runs east and west so it's a great location for sunrise or sunset. There is a little parking area that will hold about five or six cars for a short hike to overlook the valley. Click here for where to park. Once you park you will have to hike this old dirt road to several different valley views. There is a spot where there are 2 park benches so you can sit and watch the sunset and it's the most scenic area along the road.

Ojai is a nice small town that has that ole western feel when driving through the valley. The overlook was nice as well but it is filled with houses, cars, power lines ect. I didn't really have expectations when heading to visit Ojai but all the modernism's of the valley kinda cramped my style photographically. So I didn't really take that many photographs. I did however stay for sunset which was beautiful. Also the valley has a couple different Orange and or Lemon fields and being a Michigan boy it's very interesting to see.

Over all it was a decent trip. The drive was nice, the sunset was nice and the town was cute, but I won't make the trip again.There are plenty of photographs to be made so everything from a wide angle to a telephoto will be useful. I found myself using my 70-200 to isolate scenes so I could focus on the natural landscape. If you are close by it's worth a day trip but if not your better off visiting somewhere else.

What's Your Shooting Percentage?

I was talking with a beginner photographer the other day and I was asking about her recent trip. She said it was good but she took twenty or so photographs and only one was "good enough". She seemed upset or down on herself for only getting one keeper after twenty or so photographs. I told her that was an excellent "shooting percentage". On a typical day for me I might take 200 photographs of a sunset. If I get 2 or 3 out of those 200 that meet my standards I am pretty happy with that! Sometimes I will even go out on a shoot and not even get one photograph that meet my standards. Just wasn't my day. We all have those days! Don't be hard on yourself, it happens, it's part of the craft.

With time and practice your shooting percentage may improve, but the great thing about the digital age is that we don't have to buy film. Shoot away! People don't know that the one photograph I display took me 200 tries to perfect, nor do they really care. All they know is that they like the photograph. I have never had anyone ask me how many tries did it take to get that photo.