Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Light and Subject | Angle and Direction with Wildlife Photography on Hilton Head

It's not often I have the opportunity to work with such a willing subject when it comes to wildlife photography. Yesterday evening a Great Blue Heron was more than happy to help me demonstrate the difference light direction can make when deciding how to capture a subject and where to place the point of emphasis.

I was just getting ready to go on a run at sunset when I noticed this guy perched on the railing near the pond behind my apartment building. By the time I got down to my car and my camera equipment I thought he would be gone but instead he was happy to pose for quite a while. The camera used was a Canon 1D Mark III with a 300mm f4 IS L lens and 1.4x extender.

This is the time of year with the most pleasing light at sunset. Working around the Great Blue Heron with directional light coming from the southwestern horizon I was able to capture a variety of images. Each of the same subject but also quite different due to where I was placing myself (angle) in relation to how the light was interacting with the Heron. It's fascinating to see just how much of a difference angle and light direction can make in the resulting photographs.

The following examples show side lighting, diffused non-direct lighting and complete back lighting for striking silhouette. It was fun to play with different angles of approach and then adjust exposure based on how the sunlight was interacting with the subject. In these examples the subject being a Great Blue Heron, however, the same holds true for outdoor portrait photography as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Welcoming September | The Photographer's Season on Hilton Head

Those who've been following my photography and who've participated in my workshops know that I am all about autumn. And it's much more than just the trees turning nice shades of red and gold (of which there is not much of here in coastal South Carolina). It's about the shadows lengthening, the days and nights returning to a right balance and the graceful light of a southward sun. From the hills and woodlands of my home state of Ohio to the lowland maritime waterways of South Carolina, I find that life is renewed when the high humidity and blah light of summer depart the stage.

In some ways I feel bad for the crowds of summer visitors to Hilton Head Island. They miss out on what I consider to be (at least from an artistic viewpoint) the most beautiful time of year in this area. With cooler, tolerable temperatures the air is cleared making way for almost daily shows of spectacular light at sunrise and sunset. The skyscapes over saltwater marsh and beach are jaw-dropping gorgeous, a living prayer set to dancing light. Out I go with camera, a few lenses, tripod and a welcoming, grateful heart. I think it's because the landscape of the coastal area is all basically without the undulating dynamics of hills or mountains is why I'm so drawn to the sky as my primary subject for landscape photography here on Hilton Head.

I will take fall. This is the time of a feeling spirit and it has been well worth the wait. For me autumn brings not only a return to balance but also a more honest approach toward light and life. Something arrives on the cleansing north wind like an old, trusted friend who embraces the soul. In autumn light peace settles-in and fills the painful void left from the quick departure of summer's illusion. I am home and I am thankful.