Photography – The Golden Hour #VantagePoint

A few weeks ago, I was approached by someone from Light.co about my photography. They’re a camera company with a new technology that sounds quite interesting, but since I don’t actually have a photography blog, I was rather surprised they’d stumbled across it.

I primarily think of myself as a writer, but photography really is my second passion. When they asked if I’d like to take part in their #VantagePoint project it was such an interesting project I said yes.

The challenge was to pick my favorite location to shoot and share my favorite photo from that location and tell a bit about why I picked that location and photo.

I debated what my favorite location was for quite a while. I have a deep love for Stratford, Ontario and have taken hundreds of photos of both the charming little town and the surrounding countryside. Nova Scotia was also a favorite place because of the incredible rocky streams and waterfalls. The Great Lakes were also a contender because being near them is truly my happy place. But in the end, I chose my parents’ property.

They own fifty acres, most of which is fields and woods. It’s a really lovely contrast to the areas near the house, which are beautifully landscaped. When they bought the property from my grandma and built the house twenty-five years ago, it was a bare field with woods ringing the outskirts. They’ve planted trees (with an emphasis on native species) and made beautiful vegetable and flower gardens. The house is tucked back on an angle and the driveway curves around to reach it. As you pull in the driveway you pass some clusters of trees. To the left and right are fields with wild grasses. Next, you see the small barn and two horses grazing in the fenced in pasture. Next is the vegetable garden. And then you see the house and garage. Although only a few decades old, the house seems much older. Flower gardens ring the house and in the height of summer, it’s absolutely stunning.

The variety of subjects I can shoot on that property is what makes it so appealing. I can shoot both the wild fields and cultivated flowers. I can find an endless array of textures and shapes to do close-up shots. The area changes drastically throughout the seasons, and there’s always something interesting to point my camera at.

It was difficult to choose my favorite photo, but the one I finally settled on is a great example of what the property looks like in late summer as the sun begins to set. Photographers refer to that time as the “golden hour” when the light is softer and warmer-toned. It gives everyone and everything a magical glow.

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This particular photo was taken a few years ago. Friends met me at my parents’ house and we had a bonfire. If I remember right, it was to celebrate the engagement of friends of ours. It wasn’t a planned shoot, but I happened to grab my camera and took a handful of photos of the light, the sunset, and then the bonfire.

Although the golden hour makes everything look more beautiful, it can actually be quite difficult to capture especially as it starts to wane.  The photo can be washed out or too warm in tone, with no cooler tone to balance it out. The shadows can also be tricky. When I caught a glimpse of the sun peeking through the trees and highlighting the leaves that were just beginning to turn yellow, I knew I needed to photograph it. But capturing that was difficult.

I took a handful of shots that didn’t quite manage to get the right balance. It wasn’t until I stepped further to one side and only caught the edge of the sun in the frame that I got that perfect blend of warm light and interesting shadow and texture.

I shot it using my Canon Rebel XTi, which I’ve owned for maybe 7-8 years (I had a Canon Rebel G before that when I shot with film). I used my favorite lens, a Canon EF-S 55-250mm zoom.  It’s a really versatile lens and I find I use it most when I am shooting a wide variety of subjects. In this particular case, I was zoomed all the way out to 55mm, but if I’d wanted a close up shot of the light through the leaves of the tree I could have zoomed in to get a very tight shot. I absolutely love that flexibility.

In the end, I picked the photo because it perfectly captures the mood of that evening and the feel of the property. Sometimes it takes dozens or hundreds of pictures to get that perfect shot. And when you’re racing against the setting sun to capture the light it adds an extra challenge.

But getting that perfect shot makes it totally worth it.

Note: If you’re curious to learn more about light.co’s new camera, stop by their site. It uses a really interesting new technology. One drawback of my Canon is the size and their camera does promise DSLR-technology in a much smaller package. I am definitely intrigued by the idea.


Disclaimer: I wasn’t compensated in any way for this post.  I just found the project and camera interesting and enjoyed the chance to discuss my photography.

 

 

 

 

Personal Photography – Mid-Summer

I am trying to get caught up on all of my backlogged photos.  These are from mid-July when I was at my parents’ house for my cousin’s baby shower.  My parents have a beautiful yard and I always make sure I take at least 15-20 minutes to wander around their yard with my camera.

(Don’t forget you can click on any image to see it larger!)

They have a pretty little pond on one side of the house that my dad built.  It’s been up for about five years but it’s still a little bit of a work in progress. He can never quite get the waterfall set to his satisfaction, but I think it’s gorgeous!  The water lilies have been doing beautifully and every frog in the area seems to have moved into that pond.  The pond is maybe 10 feet long and 7 wide, but we counted at least six or seven frogs in the ten minutes we stood by it.  If I had a bigger yard (and more time) I’d love to build one.  The frogs are just so cute!  And I love the sound of running water.  Someday, I plan to build a little indoor fountain to put in my office so I can listen to it while I write.

Personal Photography – Zoo Trip

In early July I visited the Potter Park Zoo with one of my closest friends.  With as busy as we both are these days, we don’t get to spend much time together.  But we’re both trying to make an effort so when she said she was going to be in Lansing on one of my Fridays off, I shuffled my plans around and made it happen.  She had been planning to bring her two boys to the zoo and Potter Park is great for smaller kids.  The Detroit Zoo is amazing, but it’s the kind of place you need to spend a whole day at to do it justice.  And for two kids who aren’t yet in kindergarten, it’s just too much to tackle.  You can spend a couple of hours at Potter Park and feel like you’ve seen most of it, and the boys had a blast.  I took a ton of pictures of them too, but here are some of the ones I took for myself.  Along with all of the animals, there are some pretty flowers and plants.

 

The animals were gorgeous too and I had fun playing with my zoom lens to get interesting texture shots of the peacocks that roamed the zoo and of the tigers.  There were porcupines, a grey wolf, rhinos, a bald eagle, and otter.  FYI, otter are VERY difficult to photograph.  Sometime I am going to have to go back and take some pictures of them when I’m not helping wrangle two little boys who are at least as slippery as an otter!