Planned Images versus Unplanned Images

December 15, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


   Recently John Mueller (here is his website, his John B. Mueller Photography page on FB and finally, his FlickR page) started a FB private community for West Coast Landscape Photographers. John started the community to foster a more social "atmosphere", something he finds disappearing on FlickR. Members of the West Coast Landscape Photographers have posted discussion topics including one started by Jamey Pyles (here is Jamey Pyles on Wordpress and here is Jamey Pyles on FlickR).

Jamey started a discussion by asking " you find yourself following the light you are after, or the location you have been wanting to shoot?". Responses in the forum were interesting and got me thinking. Initially, my response was that I try to find interesting locations and then wait for the right light and that will not change. But every now and then I see some extraordinary light and I start scrambling to find something interest to shoot to take advantage of the light. For today's blog, I have two images to illustrate the discussion about chasing light versus chasing the location.

Some members of the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association had a discussion and mentioned the historic trestle at the Iron Horse Trailhead. I can't recall any particulars on the discussion (it may have occurred on the SCVPA FB page) but I did remember enough about the discussion (someone mentioned the trestle) that I decided to check it out for future photo opportunities. Over several months I wandered around the trestle and thought of several 'scenes' I hoped to capture. One would be a composition that included the trestle, clouds and some fall color, one would be a composition that included the trestle but emphasized clouds and one would be a composition that emphasized the trestle. I have captured two of these compositions to date.

The first is "Fall Color and Trestle". There are cottonwoods in the Santa Clara river and these clouds arrived (without rain) while there was still some color on the trees. I used five images to create this image (Canon 5D Mk II, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, f/22 with a Lee 2 Stop GND with exposure times of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 2 seconds and the images merged in NIK HDR EFX Pro 2). I am pretty pleased with this result.


Fall Color and Trestle


The second is "Slab, Trestle and Passing Storm". This storm did bring a little rain. It arrived after the leaves had dropped from the trees near the trestle. This is from a single image (Canon 5D Mk II, 16-35 at 16mm, f/22 for 1.6 seconds with a Lee 2 stop GND, ISO 100). Again, I am pretty pleased with the result. I am still waiting for the right circumstances to create the image emphasizing the trestle. Who knows, it may never happen.



The last image is one I shot earlier this week, was completely unplanned and I think it is one of my top five images for 2012. I captured this image because of the incredible light at sunset. I was on my way to an appointment near home and as I drove into the Santa Clarita valley, I saw amazing clouds and sky across the valley. I finished the appointment and I started thinking of places nearby to shoot this amazing light. I did not have my camera gear with me (which may have been a blessing) and had to drive home. The sunset at 4:48PM and I got home at 4:35PM so I thought "oh well, there will be another sunset" but I could not keep the incredible light out of my mind. I could not drive anywhere interesting in time to be able to use the light so I decided to grab the camera and run into the Paseo system near my house. I shot 4 scenes (none of which stood out) and then got worried about rain. I turned back for home and found this composition at 4:40PM.


The Sky ExplodedThe Sky Exploded


I did not have my tripod, which is probably just as well because the light and clouds were quickly changing anyway. This is a single image (Canon 5D Mk II, ISO 2000, 16-35 at 16mm, f/3.5, 1/250s). I reduced the image noise and brushed the lower half of image to bring out detail in the sidewalk in LR4. As I was taking this picture, I noticed the clouds directly over me were moving the opposite direction from the clouds in the distance. I thought, that's not good and I was right. less than a minute later, it started to hail. I actually heard the hail coming at me about 10 seconds before it arrived. Needless to say, I ran back to the house.

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Have a good week.


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