Color & Light
Meeting Photo Challenges
Creative Image Processing
Nature & Outdoor
Creating Better Photographics
Night & Low Light Photography
Light & Exposure
Close-Up & Macro
Digital Black & White
Color & Design
Choosing & Using Lenses
Digital Photography Equipment
Mood; Subtle Colors And Shades
As much as I love to capture subjects with saturated color because of the powerful visual impact they offer, I also seek out the opposite end of the spectrum. Subtle and desaturated colors create impact in a very different way. There seems to be a magical quality in nature, for example, when you shoot in fog or low clouds. This is one of the reasons I like photographing at dawn and sunrise because if there is humidity in the air, this is the best time to find these conditions. The colors are so soft and muted that they are breathtaking in a quiet and contemplative way.
Even autumn foliage can look beautiful in this kind of moody weather. We normally associate blazing color combinations with deciduous forests in the fall, and it’s great to capture those scenes. On foggy days, though, or even in a light rain, the muted lighting can be exquisite. I shot a forest in fog (#3) in Vermont and a single tree in Tennessee (#4), and notice how the entire palette of colors can be seen, but it’s almost as if I had used the hue/saturation dialog box in Photoshop to reduce the intensity of the color. I didn’t, of course, and these images are straight out of the camera with no post-processing.
One of my favorite color schemes in nature is white on white. Snowstorms are certainly inconvenient for commuters, airline travelers, and businesses, but photographically I think they are fantastic to shoot. Good exposures can be a challenge, but there is a special beauty that is quite compelling.
Thick fog or low clouds in combination with snow is one of the best types of lighting you can work with. The airborne moisture softens the overhead light while the snow acts as a reflector fill and bounces the light up into any shadow areas that may exist. The result is perfect lighting, and studio photographers spend thousands of dollars to simulate it in their studio work. The snow-covered trees in Yellowstone National Park (#8) offer another example of the magic of white
There are two ways to correctly expose for white-out conditions. If you use a hand held light meter like the Sekonic L-758, you can use it on Ambient mode and take a light reading with the white dome on the meter pointing at the lens. If you rely on an in-camera meter that reads reflected light, take the light reading on something in the scene that is middle toned. You can use your jeans, a gray photo backpack, grayish tree bark, a rock, etc. Once you have this reading, push the Auto Exposure lock button on the camera to lock and retain that reading in place, and then re-compose the picture and shoot.
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