30 Day Photo Challenge: Substance and Sunsets

The only challenging thing about this so far is finding the shots within a reasonable distance. I live in Iowa. We dont have such obvious scenery all around as one might in the western states. In addition, I like to shoot images with substance, not just shooting to check something off a list, and I most certainly dont shoot something that looks artsy. I shoot for substance, and sometimes thats difficult to find. Part of being a photographer is learning how to see substance, and look for substance. When all that surrounds you is beautiful, your shot is already made for you. Its much easier to just point and click. When you lack that luxury, planning your shot can require problem solving and a search for substance.

Day 8 tasked me with a sunset. At first I kind of groaned, because sunsets?? Everyone takes sunset shots. Sunsets, while breathtaking and beautiful, are, in my opinion, kind of cliché. So, I set out with the intention of using the sunset as a tool, not a subject. Storms rolled through the area yesterday, but the evening cleared up. There were some nice cloud textures in the western sky, and some ominous thunderheads to the east. The plan was to get a wide shot of the landscape with those thunderheads looming, illuminated by the sunset, but after a 30 minute drive to Saylorville Reservoir, I had lost enough of my light where those that thunderheads stood so regally had faded into the evening sky.

Disappointed and quickly losing light, I settled for recapturing an image that Id originally shot in the spring of 2012. This time I composed the photo a little differently, and took multiple exposures. Because this shoot was ill-timed, the colors arent as vibrant as what I wanted, as what they were in the original shoot. I knew, though, when I left the house that the light was going to be less than ideal by the time I arrived at my location.

In post-production, I solved my masking problem by working with two exposures instead of one. The problem I was having was that no matter how precisely I made my selections, there still remained this weird, feathered halo at the selection boundary. This came about by using selections to affect one area of an image. By using two exposures, masking, blending modes, and varying opacity values on the mask, I was able to avoid that. It sounds complicated, but it was much easier and far more effective than the way I had originally tried it.

The takeaway from this: light can determine substance. Substance is fleeting.