Joshua Tree Sunrise (Study in Light and DOF)

Intimate sunrise in the Cholla Garden, Joshua Tree National Park, CA.

Intimate sunrise in the Cholla Garden, Joshua Tree National Park, CA.

Who’s ready for a quick study in light and DOF???

This intimate sunrise image from the Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree NP is the perfect candidate.

Firstly–light. We all know that superb light is the lifeblood of any meaningful landscape image. Know light. Study it. Understand what it can do for your images. This image illustrates the qualities of having the light source behind your subject. “Backlighting” is perfect for accentuating shape and adding drama to your images. ItĀ filters through translucent, or light colored objects, and infuses tehm with life. Notice how each little needle on these cholla cacti are lit up, showcasing both the sheer magnitude and quirky nature of this location.

Secondly–this image is a legit study in depth of field. To help people better understand depth of field, I often compare my photographic frame to a loaf of bread. Think of the image in a three-dimensional way–the foreground is your front slice of bread, the background is your back slice of bread. Depth of field pertains to how many “slices” of bread will appear sharp or in focus within our image.

This image illustrates shallow depth of field. You can see that I’ve utilized a technique called selective focus to steer the viewer to a certain part of my frame, focusing on a certain cholla cactus. So, in reference to the loaf of bread example, I have very few slices of bread in focus. Selective focus (utilizing shallow DOF), is a very useful technique when you have busy compositions that would otherwise leave viewers confused and searching frantically for something to settle on visually.

Try this technique the next time you find yourself amidst a challenging, busy composition–and pay attention to that light source, give a go with backlighting!

Santa Monica (and time to reflect)…

Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel with Seagulls.

Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel with Seagulls.

It’s a quiet Sunday here in the 801, which gives me a moment for pause and reflection upon some of the past 45 days or so of shooting. It’s been a busy and productive couple of months–weeks that I will be able to look back on in 30 years with fondness…

This is a subtle, sleeper image that just happens to be one of my favorites from the past couple of weeks of work. It was the very first evening of a week-long shoot for Manfrotto, and I was simply hoping for a moment of serendipity.

At the time, I didn’t know I had captured it at all, let alone been fortunate to have clicked the shutter at the moment when a couple of seagulls were placed just perfectly in my frame…one near, one far…just out of alignment, but close enough to feel connected. Sure, I could recreate a moment like this in post, but to know that it occurred in reality is so much more gratifying…

This image evokes emotion, and for me, that is what makes it a keeper. It’s a moment that we have all lived, or would all like to experience at some point in our lives. It’s that care-free feeling that accompanies a salty breeze at the ocean’s doorstep. It’s the nostalgia that takes us back to a simpler time, when ferris wheels were far more important than interest rates and elections.

This image is about a state of being, as much as it is about the good state of California. It is about leaving the present for a moment, and traveling backwards or forwards…into lightness and frivolity.

Strive to capture images that evoke emotion. They are the reason so many of us turn to imagery for release.