What a difference six months makes…
If you’ve read my blogs for long, you will know that I am a big fan of returning to the scene of the crime. With rare exceptions, conditions are never quite the same. If a scene works for a good photograph once, it usually will again. Sometimes, it exceeds the wildest imaginings of the photographer. The results, while equally (or surpassingly) stunning (perhaps), will never be visually identical. It is almost always worth the effort to check out the choice locations and give them a second go.
Consider these scenes captured during my last two Badlands Photography Workshops.
This image was captured during the spring edition of my popular Badlands workshop. At the time, the light was great. It was May and we were well on our way through astronomical spring. There was no snow and no vegetation to betray the season – save the angle and quality of light. When I took this photograph in May, it was almost on a whim. I paused to take a look at what some of my students were shooting and decided it might be a good class room image. I grabbed a quick tripod position and fired. It was a good sky day: not overcast – not completely clear. Overall, I was pretty pleased with the image.
The full-frame sensor had a 24-105 lens mounted and I shot this at 24 MM to get the wide expanse.
Fast forward 6 months…
Same scene. Same camera. Same lens. Same F-Stop. Now, it is early December. The sun is lower and rises at a dramatically different angle to the formation. I was also fortunate to catch this a few minutes closer to sunrise than the spring shot shown earlier. The peak catches an almost incandescent glow from the very low sun angle. Believe it or not, saturation and vibrance have both been reduced in this image. The orange glow was that electric!
The real wild card in any landscape photograph’s success always seems to be the sky. Winter in the Badlands produced one of the most stunning skies I’ve ever seen over this formation. Don’t get me wrong, the formations and the selective fall of the light are amazing but the sky really makes this picture pop. A host of new hues and textures provide an exquisite backdrop to the sun-caressed formations. A tighter framing (28 MM) from approximately the same tripod position improves the composition as well. Returning to the scene of the crime was worthwhile on this day.
Sometimes landscape hunters become fixated on a trophy image, going from place to place and capturing images like items on a shopping list. They never consider or give a low priority to returning to an iconic location many times. True, you do get to see more stuff that way and add to the rote of the captured postcards but you may miss out on opportunities like this one. I have shot at this particular location in excess of 20 times and never have I taken an image which rivals this most recent edition. It only happened because I was willing to return to scene of the crime.
Happy holidays to all. Watch for information on workshops for 2015
Rikk Flohr © 2014