In my opinion, the Brecon Beacons is the most underrated national park in Britain. It’s easy to find yourself up on a peak with a vast mountainscape at your feet. Or to wander up a lonely path and meet no one but a sheep. I say easy, because the mountains are very accessible.
Not only are these some of the top reasons to photograph this unique area of southern Wales, but it also means that with a bit of exploration, you can find a completely unique point of view and create something nobody else has.
How important is exposure in photography? What are the components of exposure? What is the “Exposure Triangle”? These are the questions I will attempt to answer in this introductory post about ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed – the components of achieving a properly exposed photo.
No matter how sophisticated our camera is, it is nothing other than a dark box that creates images when light enters it. But just what amount of light is needed for it to take a “good” picture?
This is one of the most basic questions each starting photographer asks himself. And its answer is tightly related to understanding the core photographic concept of “exposure”.
Last week, I returned from an exciting photography trip that was dedicated to exploring Utah’s backcountry.
I spent 10 days driving dirt roads deep inside the deserts and mountains of Utah. I drove along some iconic dirt roads like Bull Trail, Hole in the Rock, and Cottonwood Road, all of which have deep roots in Utah’s rich history.
To accomplish such a trip, I needed two things: a high clearance car and dry weather. Most of the dirt roads in Utah are composed of clay and are unpassable when they are wet regardless of what car you are driving.
I originally intended to take this trip last spring, but I had to change all my off-road plans on the fly because of the rainy weather that occurred in the third week of May.
This time, everything went according to plan. I secured a Jeep Wrangler for 10 days and the weather was perfect, hot, and dry.
I took the featured photo during the spectacular but very rough and bumpy 100km Cathedral Valley Drive in Capitol Reef National Park.
I was on my way to the Cathedral Valley Campground, which is a unique place on its own. It is located at an altitude of 2,400m and offers an unobstructed and open view of Cathedral Valley. The campground has only five spots and works on a first come first serve basis. I wanted to secure a spot for the night as early as possible.
This is when I stumbled on the Lower South Desert Overlook. I did not know about its existence and had not seen any photos of it as I planned the trip. When I witnessed the view from the overlook, I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity and beauty of the scene. I remember I had a similar feeling when I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time.
Unfortunately, the photo does not convey the scale of the scene or its vastness.
The fall season is, by far, the most rewarding time of year for any landscape photographer. Nature’s transformation rewards us with unique color pallets that exist only during the season of fallen leaves.
The fall season is relatively long and, depending on the year, can last anywhere between 50 and 90 days. What truly makes this time of year unique is that nature’s transformation is in constant flux. The temperature, wind, and humidity affect the speed of the transformation and we, as photographers, must be ready to capture different stages of the season as it changes.
For example, a cold night with negative temperatures during the peak of the fall season will accelerate the changing colors of the foliage. The landscape will look different the following day.
Another example is the frequent fall storms that are notorious for blowing the leaves off the trees, completely changing the look of a scene in just hours.
What this means is that you can’t afford to wait for good light or favorable weather. If you find an interesting composition with exciting colors, you have to seize the opportunity right away before it vanishes.
The Kodachrome is a relatively small state park. You could probably cover all its trails and visit it from corner to corner in two to three days. But, despite being small, it presents a variety of potentially interesting landscapes.
It has canyons, mountains, cliffs, and beautiful plains with pipe rocks randomly scattered across. Plus, it presents a stunning and unique view of Bryce Canyon.
One of the unique features of the Kodachrome is Chimney Rock, which is located on private land and is accessible to park visitors.
I took the featured photo of Chimney Rock from the south facing the north. Behind the beautiful mountain ridge in the background and only a few kilometers away is the doorway to the Escalante area of Utah and the Scenic Byway 12, which is considered to be one of the most scenic roads in the US. It also takes more than 30km to drive around.
Monument Valley is one of the most spectacular locations I have visited in my entire life. It is both breathtaking and overwhelming all at once. I do not think you can properly convey the scale and beauty of the valley through photography. You simply must visit it yourself.
At the same time, the visit to Monument Valley has its own challenges. It is located on the Navajo Indian reservation and, as a result, has tribal restrictions. You can only drive along a 13-mile dirt road loop during the day; you are not allowed to hike or explore the park on your own.
This creates some limitations in regard to photography. For example, the sunset or sunrise photography is limited in the summer months because the park is only open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
I planned on taking a paid, guided sunrise photography tour, but I could not make it work with my schedule.
I took the featured photo during my drive along the 13-mile loop. I drove slowly and tried to spot any opportunities for an interesting composition so that I could stop and take a few shots along the way.
The view from Twin Peaks hill is one of my favorites in San Francisco. From the top, you can observe part of the city from Golden Gate Bridge to Bay Bridge with downtown in the middle and San Francisco Bay in the background.
Because of the ever-changing weather in the San Francisco area, you never know what kind of view you will find when you visit Twin Peaks.
On the day I took the featured photo, the air was perfectly clear but, somehow, only the bay was covered with a combination of clouds and fog that made it difficult to locate iconic landmarks like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. But, at the same time, the clouds and fog created an out-of-focus, blurred background effect that pointed the viewer’s attention to the city. I did not complain.
The view from Twin Peaks also makes you realize how unique San Francisco is. Instead of typical city colors like grey, yellow, and brown dominating the city, San Francisco’s predominant color is white. This creates such a distinctive urban pattern.
Once again, the “Why are my pictures blurry?” article was triggered by feedback from the readers of my blog. I asked subscribers to my newsletter to share their biggest challenges and struggles that they were currently facing as photographers. When I read through the responses, I was inspired to create another tutorial. Most of my readers shared the same challenge as beginning photographers struggling to get sharper photos. This is in line with many of the questions I’m often asked as a photographer, such as:
The featured photo is from my latest trip to the Southwest where I had the chance to explore more remote and less popular destinations.
During the Utah leg of my trip, I camped not far from Bryce Canyon. The day I took the featured photo was entirely dedicated to exploring Utah’s famous Scenic Byway 12 as I drove from Bryce all the way to Capitol Reef National Park.
In the middle Escalante area, I stopped at Calf Creek Park to visit and photograph the Lower Calf Creek Falls. The only way to reach the falls is to hike at the bottom of the narrow canyon along the river. The hike itself is 10km round trip and is not very demanding at all.
Based on my research, I expected to see a lot of people swimming in the falls, taking selfies, and hanging out. But, I was lucky; during my hour-long stay at the falls, I met only one other person.
Since I did not plan to stay at the falls until sunset, I did not bring a tripod. All I brought was my camera and two lenses for a nice, light hike. The only disadvantage was that I could not take long exposure shots of the falls. Instead, I used my favorite technique of shooting a series of photos of the running water (10 to 20 shots) and later blended blend them together in Photoshop to create a long exposure effect.