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Trail to Color

Late in the afternoon with darkness approaching I found the trail deserted. I had planned to hike and reach a vista point that overlooks the ocean at sunset. The hike was enjoyable but the sunset over the ocean wasn’t what I had anticipated. The interesting cloud formations didn’t extend to the horizon, but instead were almost directly over head. I decided to chalk it up to a nice hike that once again didn’t yield the photograph that I envisioned.

A few minutes after the sun set over the horizon the clouds overhead began to burst into color. I lingered to take in the vista. But with the coming darkness and a few miles of trail left I decided to head home. As I turned to head back down the trail I could see that the colors were becoming even more vibrant. There was a composition here, not of the ocean vista, but of the trail through the sparse scrub brush under the clouds. The debate between the coming darkness and the time to setup a shot ended quickly as I started to extend the legs of the tripod.

On a technical note, this picture was taken with a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter. Even at sunset the sky was much brighter than the foreground. In my rush to beat the setting sun, I took the first picture (inset) using a center weighted average meter reading without using the graduated neutral density filter. I did a quick spot meter on the sky and then on the foreground and could see that there was easily a 2-stop difference. By using the graduated neutral density filter the photograph is evenly exposed through the range of brightness.

Actually as I reflected on this photograph, there are several techniques at work here (as is the case in almost every photograph - again reflecting). Here are some links to articles:

     

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Related articles
Neutral Density Filter
The use of graduated neutral density filters can help balance out the exposure in scenery. This article gives a practicle example of when and how to use a graduated neutral density filter.


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