Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Following your instincts: The long cut home

Driving home from work tonight, I got off the freeway at my usual exit at 8 Mile Road at Whitmore Lake  and headed west and north along my usual maze of winding side roads that would get me home in the quickest manner. The sun was just starting to drop, below a western cloud cover. Through the trees and houses I could see a vibrant orange and yellow horizon.

I was tired and I really just wanted to get home, but I started thinking about where I might get a good view of the sunset and maybe a nice photograph. I decided to cut up north along unpaved Hall Road, which runs along the eastern side of Hamburg Lake. It's a small but pretty lake, with the dirt road running close to the lake and the houses sitting on the other side of the road, leaving a clear view of the western horizon.

As I drove, I looked for something to frame against the beautiful sunset. As soon as I spotted the snow-covered bench next to the huge tree with its drooping limbs, I knew I had found the right spot. I framed the photo so the sun would be captured between the tree limbs which flowed downward toward the bench. I slightly underexposed the shot to better capture the color and drama of the sky through the web of tree limbs.

It's the same lesson I have learned time and time again. Good photos don't find you. You have to find them. And that sometimes that means taking the long way home after a long day at work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The glorious wonders of natural light

Ask just about any portrait or studio photographer, and they will tell you how wonderful natural light is. We shoot with flashguns and studio lights, trying to imitate what nature often does best. The sun in the early morning or late day casts a beautiful, warming, golden light.

This photo of model Rita Riggs was taken during a shoot in my studio on a overcast Sunday. We had been shooting for a couple of hours, with my studio lights with the venetian blinds shut on the windows, when late in the afternoon the sun broke through a brief hole the clouds. I opened up the blinds, turned off the studio lights, quickly re-adjusted my camera and got off a half-dozen shots or so before the sun disappeared again.

I love this shot for its sensuality, accented by the partially closed eyes, Rita's pursed lips and the way the light falls on her face behind the mosquito netting. It turned out to be one of my favorite shots from a shoot in which I took more than 500 photos.

You can view more photos from my studio session with Rita at www.pbase.com/spepple/rita_riggs_jan10.