More good light/bad light photos

The weather here has been interesting the last few days. Gray and humid. Not great for photos. Not yet anyway. Hopefully by mid-week there will be plenty of exciting things happening in the sky to make the landscape a bit more interesting.

As I’ve written many times before, where I live is not the easiest place to shoot landscapes. I think that you’ll learn much more from taking photos in places like this than you ever will by shooting in the national parks or on the coast. Why? It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sight of wonderful scenery in faraway places. A spectacular waterfall will impress whether it’s a good photo or not. It’s the subject that is impressive not the photography. What has the photographer really done other than point and shoot? It’s too easy to look better than you really are if that’s all you do. The best landscape photographers that I know are able to shoot anywhere and make that place look special and memorable. Practice shooting in those unremarkable places and you’ll be forced to improve your art. Best of all, you can practice a few times a week and be home to sleep in your own bed.

I am always looking for anything that sticks out of the ground and into the horizon to use as a foreground and to try and break the horizon. Fenceposts, trees, farm equipment, weeds, anything and everything is a possible contender. The scene above is repeated thousands of times across our flat prairie. A set of railway tracks. A fence line. An empty field. Hardly breathtaking subject matter but that is where the sleight of hand or sleight of eye comes in. I am almost always shooting low to the ground looking up if only because that often affords me the best perspective. This time however, I had the camera at shoulder level looking slightly down. During the harsh light of mid-day, the light is uninteresting and the colors are flat.

Come back to that same place a few hours later when the sun is low and near the horizon. Shooting towards the light now gives the grass more depth with the backlighting. The highs and lows of the wild grasses can be seen whereas a few hours later they all blended together. The colors near sunset become more vivid. Greens jump out because of the backlight. The sky is alive with color instead of being washed out. A change of perspective from the previous photos helps. The fence post provides an entry point for the eye. Imagine if you will if I were standing on the other side of the fence with only grass in the foreground. It might work but not be as interesting without the post. Best of all, I was home twenty minutes after I snapped this.

Again, where it’s practical I’ll try and post more examples of this. Practice will make perfect for you.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on June 24, 2012.

8 Responses to “More good light/bad light photos”

  1. These posts are great. Help me a lot. Thank you Dan.

  2. hi Dan,
    Just wanted to say thank you for the recent posts you been doing. There great to see and looking forward to see more

  3. @ Bruce, you’re very welcome. Good luck with the photography.

  4. @ Shelly, I know that for myself, seeing how something is done is more easily understood than explaining it. More to come. Thank you for visiting and commenting,

  5. Hey Dan, maybe you could start advertising to host new tour: “Fence Posts of the Alberta Prairie.” :-)

    Keep up the good work. I always enjoy reading your new posts.

  6. @ Rick, I think someone already does a Masterclass on that. LOL

  7. Hi Dan
    I’ve been following your posts for some time now, they are inspiring & educational. Your posts have motivated me to work on creating interesting prairie landscapes close to home. Keep up the great work.

  8. @ Rob, thank you for the kind words. I think the prairies are an under photographed landscape. There is plenty to go around for all of us. I can only recall the number of times on one hand that I’ve seen someone else shooting when I was. Contrast that to the national parks where the more popular spots have people lined up and trying to stay out of each others way during the sunrise/sunset.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

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