Monday, February 15, 2010

A beautiful morning...



Yesterday was a glorious day here in Orange County. I had decided Saturday night that I was going to arise early and take advantage of the early morning light and do some photography. On my regular morning drive I take the scenic Santiago Canyon Road, the 2-lane road that goes from Orange, by Irvine Lake, past the Silverado and Modjeska Canyon roads, and finally ends at Cook's Corner. With all the rain we've had, the hills that cradle the road along its course are verdant green, with majestic oaks and sycamores spotted all along. As I have driven this road on my daily commute, I have seen areas that, in the early morning light, possess beauty and subtlety. So, it was to these areas that I brought my camera to yesterday morning.

It was not too cold, but chilly. I stopped just past Cook's Corner, at one of the spots I'd driven by and thought would be good. But as always, when seeing potential photographs at 50 mph, they look quite different when you are walking, or standing still, and the magic you feel at 50 mph is not the same as what you actually see. Part of doing fine-art landscape photography, particularly if you're using a large-format camera as I do (one that shoots a single sheet of film at a time), is that you are very selective about what and how you shoot. And you adopt a mind-set that requires you to be very selective, and you isolate only a part of the overall view that emotionally attracted you to the image in the first place. What it becomes, then, is a small area that captures the entire emotional aspect of the scene. This takes practice and self-discipline. I've been with photographers that would set up their cameras, and 45 minutes later walk away without having taken a photograph.

So, I set up my camera, saw the shot, calculated my exposure, focused and refocused and checked and double-checked, and then snapped the shutter for the 4-second exposure. All of that in 45 minutes. And I left, having only shot 2 sheets of film of this spot (one in landscape format, one in portrait format), satisfied and fulfilled.

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