Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Power of Light

The three fundamentals of any good picture are simple: timing, location, and light. In other words, good photographs are made by being in the right place, at the right time, with the right light. When those three elements are lined up perfectly, all the photographer has to do at that point is frame the picture and shoot. However, none of these elements are terribly easy to manipulate on their own, not to mention getting them together at just the right point in time. I've awoken before dawn and driven at high speed a hundred miles to get just the right light on the famous Ship Rock Peak in New Mexico, only to have the sunrise obscured by clouds at the last moment.

And I've driven past this old gold stamping mill on I-70 just outside of Idaho Springs a dozen times and not liked the light. Because the mill is in a gulch, it is either in the shadows most of the time, or glaringly flat at high noon when the sun can shine straight down, hardly ideal lighting conditions for the rich color that the rusted old hulk deserves.

But once again, Photoshop comes to the rescue. Above is my version after playing with the color balance and brightness/contrast controls. Below is the original version.

And just so you know what I missed, here is the shot I did get of Ship Rock, although it's not the one I had in mind when I broke camp at Canyon de Chelly much earlier that morning.


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