Thanks for indulging yesterday's detour. I now return you to your regular programming....
What's the deal with Eastern Sierra skies? Is it just me or does is seem that a disproportionate number of my Eastern Sierra images feature dramatic clouds? Of course there's a meteorological reason that involves the prevailing west-to-east flow of air over the Sierra Nevada Mountains that rise gradually on the west from around sea level to over 14,000 feet, then plummet precipitously on the east side. But the bottom line is that it makes for fabulous photography.
On the morning I took this picture I had guided my Eastern Sierra fall workshop group to the Alabama Hills' Mobius Arch (see my January 27 blog) for a Mt. Whitney sunrise. After a morning of nice photography we started to head back to the vehicles when I saw this sickle-shaped cloud moving up from the southwest.
Too often we become so focused on what we set out to shoot--in this case it was Mt. Whitney and the arch--to the exclusion of other great opportunities. Light and sky can change fast, so merely surveying the surroundings when you arrive isn't enough. Train yourself to slow down. Step back and look around. Look left and right, front and back, up and down. Take your camera from the tripod and play with compositions.
On that morning last fall there was nothing subtle about this cloud. In fact it was was quite prominent, stretching from near the horizon to nearly the zenith. But many (though not all) in the group had stopped seeing the world like photographers and had shifted into "what's for breakfast" mode. I called their attention to the sky and urged them to take a few minutes to find a foreground for it. Fortunately foregrounds aren't a problem in the Alabama Hills, so I didn't need to look long. The whole area is riddled with weathered granite boulders, some standing by themselves, others assembled in groups like this, and still more piled high in mountainous jumbles.
I walked across the road toward these rocks and made a few shots. I went wide to take in lots of sky. When the most interesting part of the scene is the sky, I position it prominently in the top two thirds of the frame (at least). I started vertical, but also made some horizontal compositions (one of which will be in my book). Then we went for a nice hot breakfast.
I still have a few spaces remaining in my Eastern Sierra fall workshop, September 29-October 3, http://www.garyhartphotography.com/EasternSierraFall09.shtml. I’ve timed it for a full moon, so among other things, we’ll be doing some moonlight photography of Mt. Whitney from here in the Alabama Hills.
Next post: July 17 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)
* Website: Eloquent Images
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