MASTERING LIGHT ONLINE WORKSHOP
Nature photography classes empowering you to master light in the field and in post-processing.
Workshop starts in:
Yesterday, I woke up to a drizzly, overcast morning… and I couldn’t stop smiling. The fact is, I love days like that. They are absolutely ripe with opportunity. I grabbed my 180mm macro lens, and went out to find an interesting subject.
My neighbors saw me out shooting and asked if I was waiting for the right light – they were sure I wasn’t going to get it… but I already had what I wanted. The clouds provided a perfect, natural diffuser – and the wet leaves acted as natural reflectors… bouncing and scattering light everywhere. The drizzle gave me something even better – tiny droplets that turned my pretty backyard into a photographers dream. And when leaves get wet, they seem to glow with a rich, fresh green that provides a perfect backdrop.
So, I was in heaven. I discovered a thousand droplets on a spider web – evenly spaced and glowing against a backdrop of green leaves and pink flowers. I found a copper-colored ant navigating a wilderness of miniature flowers covered in tiny liquid balls. And then I saw this little droplet clinging to the curling stamen of a purple flower – bits of yellow pollen floating inside… and I’d found my subject.
I set up my Induro Tripod down low to the ground – carefully adjusting it’s legs and my lens until the flower and it’s stamen were where I wanted them in my frame. I nudged the legs of the tripod slightly to get the composition just right (sometimes that’s easier than adjusting the ball head when you are working with a tiny subject like this one.) I paid close attention to my background, because I wanted a perfectly smooth, green without distractions. I had to shift a couple of flowers out of the frame before I was happy with my composition.
The light was already exactly what I wanted, so my final challenge was in getting the focus just right. A slight breeze kept my flower dancing… so I increased my ISO to 640 to get a shutter speed of 1/160s at f6.3. Then, I used the live view feature to zoom in on that tiny droplet and set my focus as accurately as possible. I used mirror lock-up and a two-second timed delay so that I could release the shutter and then remove my hands from the camera to allow it to remain completely steady. I still had to take a few shots before I captured a perfectly sharp image – the wind was a factor I couldn’t control – but in the end, I got exactly what I wanted. A simple image with rich, complimentary colors and delicate details… exactly what I’d hoped for on this perfect, drizzly day.
There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.