Here’s a quick tip for you…turn around.
Several years ago I was shooting a landscape image with a nice sunset. I was fully fixated on the sunset because, as I’ve mentioned before, the light changes very fast at that time of day and you need to keep shooting until it’s over because you can’t predict what’s going to happen moment-by-moment.
However, at some point I dropped something and when I turned around to pick it up I noticed that the scene behind me was much more impressive than the scene I had been shooting.
Ever since that day, I remember to tell myself, “turn around”.
When I was shooting the Green River Overlook (see “Shooting in Canyonlands Part 2”) I had my tripod set up and my lens and camera very carefully adjusted for the scene I was shooting. However, I did remember to look around and, although it was not behind me, I did notice that I could shoot this beautiful version of the overlook picture if I moved my tripod and turned my camera.
So I did, and I’m happy that I did, even though it was a pain to get the original shot set back up after I took this one. Although I don’t personally think this image is quite as spectacular as the other one, I do think it has a beauty of it’s own.
So once again, remember to turn around.
Here’s an image from my Canyonlands trip that I consider to be portfolio quality work. It’s from the Islands in the Sky area of Canyonlands overlooking the Green River.
I had actually shot this same overlook two years ago when I was last at Canyonlands but the conditions where terrible that day (lots of wind blown dust and haze in the air). So when I went back this time, I was hoping for a better opportunity.
I had learned a couple lessons from my previous visit that I applied this time. First, I would shoot as the sun was setting but not yet set because the sun, as it sank in the sky, would shine on the tops of ridges in the valley while leaving lower areas in shadow. That would emphasize the terrain, adding depth and color. Second, it would be good to add some foreground interest into the composition.
So I went early, giving my self at least two hours before I expected the time to be right and scouted out the location I wanted. I found this spot that had an old gnarled juniper tree providing just the kind of foreground interest I was looking for.
There were also rock walls and a stone ledge to help frame the composition.
It’s a good thing I arrived early because after I had set up, another photographer came by who had obviously intended to shoot at that same exact location. He hung around for a while hemming and hawing but finally realized I wasn’t going anywhere and moved on.
Anyway, I shot a bracketed exposure (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2) every few minutes for almost two hours. Each one was just a little different but when I got them home and looked at them, this particular exposure just popped in a way none of the others did.
When it comes to shooting landscapes at dusk, you need to take a bunch of exposures because the light changes very fast and has unpredictable effects on the image. If you don’t shoot a number of exposures you will likely miss out on the perfect image.
You can order a print of the image here (without watermarks):
I also very much like the black and white version of this image which you can find here: