Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No Wasted Walk

Lee Stream Rock

Yesterday I was full of good intentions... striding off up a track that leads up Maungatua, camera and lenses in my bag, hoping to get some landscape pictures from the treeline, but mainly intending to get my legs in shape for the Hump Ridge Track I'm walking in a couple of months time.  I'd allowed a few hours for the exercise, but a little over five minutes in, I was confronted by this:

Lee Stream in flood. (Not to be confused with the Lee Stream that flows into the Taieri upstream of Outram Glen). In other circumstances I'd have crossed and carried on with my walk, but the rain was still falling, and while I had a watertight gear bag, I really didn't want to risk returning to a higher stream and hazardous crossing. I could jack it in and go home, or I could wander back down the track, trying to see the great subject material around me and capturing it. Four hours and a few hundred metres of bush track. I decided that would be just enough time.

OK first photo opportunity. Stream in flood? Time to pull out the Neutral Density filter and make that water dreamy-soft.


Ferns and whirlpool I was using exposures from about 4 to 10 seconds here. What I've learned with long exposures like these is that foliage can be a problem. Your rocks will be nice and sharp (assuming you've got your camera rock steady), the water will be smoothed out, but if you've any breeze at all, the foliage will be moving about and blurred in the final picture. OK if you want it, but you start to lose the effect if you haven't got plenty of good sharp stuff in frame. Unless things are really still, it's best to frame for just the rocks and water.

Then I was off down the track, getting some details of the walk: reflections in puddles, macro of leaves, bark textures... I've been into strobism for so long, I was kind of missing my flashes, but you have to be able to work with what you've got. The light was mostly overcast, but occasionally some dappled light hit the forest floor, isolating or back lighting a fern.

Hounds Tongue Backlit Silver Fern Hounds Tongue Fern

The tripod was invaluable, allowing me to get nice sharp shots in the low forest light, but if I hadn't had it with me, I'd have adapted. That's going to be my mission on the Hump Ridge Track - to help people make good pictures no matter what the circumstances, no matter what their gear. Puddles, dead leaves, flooded streams...the world is full of great subject material. We just have to learn to see it.

Dead fronds

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