I went to the countryside today with high hopes of doing something decent, photography wise. I came back with some OK pictures, nothing to write home about but I’ve definitely come back with far less. Mostly this was a chance to try and flex some “visualization” muscles and practice shooting with an idea of a final image in mind. Although a lot of the work wasn’t stellar, it was a constructive outing for me. At the very least, I had fun and I got some country air in my lungs, which is always cathartic regardless of how good the pictures turn out.
I thought a lot about trees and clouds on my outing today. I originally pictured this in my mind as the leaves being about the value they are in this picture, but, more clearly identifiable. I had to render these as a slightly darker gray (I would’ve loved white leaves against a dark background) than the overexposed white sky. It was a bright day. Bright cloudy days annoy me for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which being it’s impossible to balance exposure without HDR, a graduated ND filter, or very ugly, “cheater” editing. Shooting into the eastern sky (I went out in the evening) helped, but not a lot.
Though, it’s worth noting that bright cloudy days are basically the best days to do portraits because the whole sky acts as a diffuser. But in a situation like this, unless you expose for the sky, any sky in the picture will be basically pure white. Annoying.
While I was shooting I thought this would be the best shot (or at least the one I liked the most, what other people like and what I like rarely line up), and I was more or less right. I love the textural contrast of the grass and the trees, but if there were one thing I could change it would be to make the grass -level-. I shot this with a 70-200 at 100mm, standing on top of my car in order to get the desired position of the trees relative to the grass. The road I was on runs in front of the grass, takes a left turn and then runs along the treeline. So there wasn’t much I could do about levelling out the grass, but I loved the way the light fell on the exposed tree trunks and I’m glad I had my 70-200 with me (I rarely take my 70-200 with me, figuring it as a portrait lens, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it for landscape work before today) so I could correctly compose this shot.
I kind of took this shot on a whim after shooting another picture that didn’t even make it into this bunch because I wasn’t happy with it. I was ambivalent while shooting it, ambivalent while editing it, and ambivalent looking at it now. It’s not a bad photo, just something about it looks off to me. If I had to guess it’d be the lack of middle gray tones in the tree. Which, makes sense considering the tree was fringed in direct sunlight. However it still looks a bit off to me, though I do like it.
Very straightforward shot. Nothing I don’t like about it, but it’s nothing to write home about, so to speak. Just a decent, balanced composition with a pleasant subject.
Another shot which is pretty non-challenging and pleasant. I sort of wished that the tree trunks stood out more, but I’m more happy with this shot than not happy about it. I also had to burn the bottom of the photo a fair amount in order to draw out the shadow from the line of trees casting the shadow. I thought the shadow would come across more as I was looking at the scene while shooting it, but it needed some post-proc. work.
A detail shot from the above shot of grass and trees, I moved down the road a bit and punched in on the trees. I just liked the texture of the trees and the very nice contrast of the exposed trees against the foliage. I don’t like it as much as the trees with the grass, but I do think the trees can work by themselves.
I tried editing a couple angles of the same idea of this shot before settling on this one. At first I had one with the horizon in the center (which, I know is bad, but sometimes I do it and think it looks good) decided this wasn’t one of those times, picked one with less sky, didn’t like it, and then settled on the above composition. I wish I’d pulled my car up to where I was so I could’ve gotten more of the band of cut crop over the rise, but overall I’m happy with this shot.
I shot into the eastern sky, which is why the sky isn’t completely over-exposed. I told myself I was going to go out and shoot the cool clouds today. We had storms this morning and the clouds have been cool all day, and, if the clouds are just cool and fun to look at, they must lend themselves as a backdrop to landscape photography right?
Well, sort of. Most of the time I felt like they just cluttered the shot, all the diffused light meant it was impossible to shoot west and not either blow out the sky or have the land be a barely decipherable, zone II mess. I’m sure there was something interesting that could’ve been picked out of the clouds. I have in mind a shot over water, a very abstract symmetrical type thing. But I didn’t find any decent water today. Oh well, another day.
And then there’s this mess. This just serves to illustrate how much the clouds, while they look cool, do not lend themselves well to a backdrop unless the foreground is extremely simple. This composition is just chaotic to me. All I wanted from this photo when I took it was for the buildings to be white. They were a nice pale red, I thought I could color filter for red and it would darken the sky and the ground would follow suit well enough. However the whole photo just ended up being a cluttered mess that I only edited and included to see how close I could get to the “original image” in my mind and see what serves to clutter and how to deal with it.
It isn’t the worst picture I’ve ever taken, though. So there’s that.
All in all I had a good time on this outing. I wish I’d been out a bit longer, and maybe shot some film too. I find at a certain point, though, my mindset shifts and decays from “looking for good pictures” to “I want to go home and edit these.” I’ve done long landscape shoots before, but at a certain point, for reasons unknown, I just get tired of shooting. Not even physically tired, I just feel creatively tapped. Maybe it’s something to work on.
As always, thanks for reading, tell a friend, etc. Also, if you’d like to buy prints of any of the photos (well, any of the photos that are mine) on this website, use the contact form and we can work something out.
Have a great day!