Aspen Grove, Boulder Mountain, Utah, USA
Phase One XF with 150MP IQ4, 240mm Schneider lens
What do you do when the sun is higher in the sky than you'd like? Photographers enjoy shooting at the ends of the day because of the beautiful quality of light raking across the landscape (side lighting), but it doesn't take too long before mid-morning takes over and the light loses its magic.
One option is to shoot in black and white. Another is to head to the mountains because you can usually find an angled slope that is side lit. The third is to look for back lighting - where you point the camera into the light and hope your lens shade is up to the task!
By the time we reached this part of Boulder Mountain on our recent American South West photo tour with Tony Hewitt, the sun was hotter than I'd like for the 'big views', but it was perfect for detailed angles such as this. Three things make the image work (in my opinion).
First, there's the backlighting. You can see from the shadows on the ground that the sun is up to the right, so it's slightly angled. The light doesn't have to be perfectly 'behind' your subject to be termed 'back light'.
Second, behind the stand of trees is a dark background in shadow. The tonality of the background is important because it allows the lightly toned trees to be more visible.
And third, the wonder that comes from landscape in the snow, is the fill lighting provided. In a non-snow environment, the tree trunks would appear a lot darker and the 'rim lighting' around the trunks would be more obvious. However, there is so much light bouncing around in this scene that the trunks are lit up, allowing me to create a relatively 'high key' rendition (light tonal values).
Some of my favourite shots taken on photo tours aren't of the iconic landmarks we advertise in our brochures, but little images found on the road that simply take my breath away.
If you're interested in joining me and Tony Hewitt in the USA, keep an eye on these newsletters as we're working on our next trip for February or March next year. Optionally, email Kim ([email protected]) and ask her to add you to the list and we'll let you know once the details are finalised. We're thinking about Yellowstone!