Pixel Peepers

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Have you ever failed to see beauty that was right in front of your eyes because you were too busy worrying about other details to notice it? In photography that happens a lot. It’s really easy to get caught up in the details and that blind you from truly seeing. This image, taken during the same workshop as the previous image, tells just such a story.

Our group was out at [wikipop]Olmsted Point[/wikipop] in Yosemite. The sky was amazing. Landscape photography is all about the quality of the light and this evening was truly special. Even before the color in the sky really started to develop everything around us began to take on an otherworldly pink glow. The light was soft and warm making just about anything that it touched a photograph waiting to happen. It was one of those special photographic moments that you alway want to catch but seldom do.

As amazing as the scene was, the most vivid memory that I carried away from there was that of two other photographers that we saw that night. They were already set up when we arrived and didn’t budge from their initial location. Both had multiple, and expensive, cameras. The whole time we were shooting, everything in sight, they stood by their tripods and debated.  They discussed whether or not the light was going to get better or had it already peaked, was this better than “that other time” ad nauseam.   They went on for at least an hour. I’m still not sure if they even took pictures.

You see that sort of mentality all the time in the “gear” forums on photography sites. There are always folks whom you never see post a real picture but will spend days arguing over which lens is sharpest at a 200% crop. Successful images convey the feelings and experience of the photographer. Pixels don’t evoke emotions; photographs do. The message here is to slow down and take the time to appreciate what you’re photographing. That appreciation is the soul of your image. Be aware of the limitations and technical details of your equipment but don’t let them blind you. Let the scene generate an emotional response from you and your camera will certainly follow.

Now that I’ve finished telling you to ignore the details, I’ll provide them. This is an older image so it was taken with my Canon 30D. One of my favorite lenses on that camera was my Tokina 12-24. It was a rock solid little lens that I used on many of my favorite images. The wind was blowing, as it often does at Olmsted, and the clouds were moving pretty quickly. I wanted to slow down the exposure to capture a little of that motion if possible. I stopped down to f/16 and that gave me an exposure of 2 seconds. My only mistake was failing to notice the ISO at 200. Had I thought to drop it to 100, I could have doubled my exposure time giving me even more motion feel. Yet another reason for that little green “Check ISO” sticker on the back of my camera.