Here comes the sun…

A couple of very quick series of images (with some photo info) for you here, as I frantically pack ready for a 5am start tomorrow.  (Be gentle on the inevitable typos, okay?)

A dear Internet friend contacted me the other day, asking for advice when taking photos.  As usual, I was a bit mumbly when confronted with such a request.  I am a happy snapper, who learned ‘on the job’ during her few years on regional newspapers.  So I am aware that many, many photographers out there know much more than I.  But it did make me think about maybe sharing one of two pointers here, for those interested.

If you want BASICS about how a camera works, then take a quick trip to Ree’s place for aperture and exposure run-throughs.  She’s done it so well it seems silly to repeat it.  Okay, I might go over shutter speed etc soon, but today I want to talk a little about PHOTO OPPORTUNITY and LIGHT.

As you may be aware, I am pretty much always on the lookout for a shot.  It has to do with lots of things, but mostly it has to do with ATTITUDE.  People might argue that they don’t see things around them to photograph.  And I would argue that I have NEVER found myself in that situation.  Because I LOOK.  A little part of my brain is always spinning in the background – Gosh look at that shaft of light coming through the window, look at that water rippling as a duck lands, look at the angle of that tree against the skyline… Of course some might argue that this is actually a disease and makes me a lot vague when it comes to normal conversations and remembering people’s names… Potatoes, po-tart-ohs!

A ‘for instance’ of how my mind works when I see something I think is worth picking up the Nikon for…

Some burning off taking place yesterday near home – poor Lachlan had to put up with a sudden stop in the ute as I hung out the window to grab this series of shots…


What was it that caught my eye?

Initially, it was the shafts of light through the smoke.  Then the lines of the road disappearing into the smoke and the fenceline cutting across.  Almost 1/3 the way up the shot.  The second and third parts of this sequence were more an instinctive response than deliberate as I framed the shots… It just felt right.

I don’t mean to be Arty Farty when I say it felt right – I think EVERYONE knows that they like.  And what YOU like might well be different to what I like. And that’s okay.  If you stop and think about it, you KNOW what appeals to you… you respond to it in art, in someone else’s photos. It might be the tiny details of things, it might be sweeping landscapes. It might be strong colours, or heavy horizontal lines… and it is not that hard to translate what appeals to you, into a photo.  You just have to LOOK and RECOGNISE it (and STOP) when you see it.

So what else did I see at this spot?  I wanted LESS…


So I zoomed a little to include the basic elements – smoke, flames, road fence…


And then I just let the colours seeping through the smoke do their thing… always bracketing a few shots together (taking a total of about one minute) and trying different framing options. It’s the joy of the digital camera… the ‘delete’ button for the ones you think are not worth saving.  Doesn’t cost you a ‘brass razoo’ as Dad would say!

Another tip is to let the same location give you its different moods… don’t just drive past the same place again and again without LOOKING.

A shot taken about ten days ago, on the way home from town…


Pretty enough, post burning and with blue skies and a hint of smoke in the distance…

And then this afternoon, as I drove home …


A bit later in the day, different atmosphere, different mood…

(Very strange angle too… not sure what I was thinking here!  Maybe I was anticipating the chardonnay at home?)

firesun_1992 e

And yes, I am the strange lady parked haphazardly on the side of the road at apparently random intervals…

firesun_1997 e

Same angle but zooming and letting the branches frame the sun …

firesun_2003 e

A few metres down the road, going wider and sharing that sweeping drift of pastel hills …

firesun_2004 e

Rolling forward a little further and zooming the heck out of that little 18-200 lense… it’s almost like a painting, there is so little ‘photographic’ detail.

Then, realising how little time I had (our sunsets are PLUNGING affairs rather than lazy slides over the horizon)… I got myself around to my next favourite vista on the road.

firesun_2012 e

For some reason the sun looked HUGE here.  The foreground detail is almost gone (I admit, I did use Photoshop ever-so-slightly to lift the area a touch) but the important bit was really the sun.  I actually under-exposed this a little.

Hint: If you want to get ANY detail in the sun colour you need to under-expose or you will end up with a white sun EVERY time.  (That blessed Automatic setting – you really need to be brave and turn it off.)


But I will talk more about banning the Auto setting another day.

I have REALLY gotta go pack!

Did that make sense to you?  Questions?



6 Responses to “Here comes the sun…”

  1. Someday I’m gonna have a “real” camera and come back and read all this stuff in an entirely different light!!

    Or heck, I’ll just live vicariously through your photos and all those of the other wonderful photo bloggers I visit!
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Blast from the Past #2

  2. I shall be waiting patiently for the tutorial about turning off the auto. I get myself all worked up and flustered when I have it off – numbers and letters and dials and buttons it confuses me and I get scared that I will lose the shot that I was after. Argghhh – it is not meant to be this hard!
    Help me BB.
    Mrs Stuck in Auto!

  3. ” A little part of my brain is always spinning in the background…”

    If it’s a disease I don’t want to be cured. If we mumble vaguely and can’t remember names because we are totally distracted by the light coming through the trees…if we park our car haphazardly and and wander off into the shrubs chasing a sunset…people will just have to shake their heads behind our backs and/or deal with it.
    Leenie´s last blog post ..SAND PEOPLE

  4. *sigh*

    You do take such purty pictures.
    debby´s last blog post ..testing, testing…

  5. These are beautiful. Exquisite. I love the shafts of light coming through the smoke in the dusk of the evening.
    Kate´s last blog post ..Rainy day, dream away

  6. Thanks for the tips. I like the sun framed in the branches of the tree best.
    diane´s last blog post ..LAST DAY USA- USA Adventure Part 35

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