Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Commute

My commute this morning was very beautiful and peaceful. Coming from the Northeast corner of U.S. we get our fair share of winter conditions. Last week and this week has left us with a healthy amount of snow. Today I intentionally left an hour early so I could enjoy it from not just the window, but through the lens. It was very peaceful to watch the fog dissipate and allow the sun to come through briefly. Shortly after the sun came out, it disappeared again for the rest of the day. A quick snow shower came and brought with it a little chill in the air for the commute back. It truly was a post ice storm wonderland this morning. As I was shooting, I was surrounded by the sounds of falling ice. It was devastating, yet magnificent at the same time. It was a tad bit warmer than usual this morning, hence the ice falling. Below are a few images I made on my commute.

About the photos: I read an article earlier in the week about shooting on a "grey day". The article was filled with lots of misinformation that could really put off an amateur photographer or someone new to the medium. In terms of photography, there is no such day as a "grey day". That term is reserved for an overcast day that produces, depending on the value of darkness, some really good lighting for shooting portraits. The article was very false in the sense that it conveyed a biased opinion on how to shoot on this type of day. A day that is over cast has, for the most part, depending on the quality of light-low dynamic range. This means there is no high key lighting to work with to create shadows and bright highlights. For the images above I put a polarizing filter on my lens and set my exposure. Had I not, I would have either had to increase the shutter speed or f-stop to compensate. At that point I still would not get such a dramatic sky while retaining a nice exposure in foreground. When you are shooting on an overcast day, think monochrome, (black and white). You want to have a nice even tonal range from the blacks to what ever whites you can produce. Ultimately you want to have a nice sky that is not pure white. This is where the polarizing filter came into play. Referring back to what I read, the article mentioned black and white but did not express having nice strong blacks while having the mid-tone greys that really convey the sense of mood fused with some sort of high lights. Instead, it just said, think black and white. Days of low dynamic range, over cast days, are not particularly best for tons of color images. This is why I made sure to convert to black and white in post processing. There are a number of ways to convert an image to black and white. You need to keep in mind the contrast to create the deeper black that makes the image POP, and come to life. You really want to avoid an all grey, flat, murky image. If you are unsure of what a polarizing filter is, you can read about it here: Polarizing Filter If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. This was just a very quick introduction to the idea of shooting on an over cast day and using a filter to pull in a nice sky to create a complete tonality in your photographs.

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