Two of my favorite romantic movies are “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.” These turn out to be some of the best times not only for love but also for landscape photography.
“As a landscape photographer, you can only shoot two times a day: (1) dawn and (2) dusk.” So writes Scott Kelby in The Digital Photography Book, which I finished reading last night. He says that we can shoot from about 15 to 30 minutes before sunrise, from 30 minutes to an hour afterward and then from 15 to 30 minutes before sunset and up to 30 minutes afterward.
That sure makes landscape photography sound like a part-time job! However, there is the slight problem of hiking the trail before and after the shoot. And the split shift is as bad as restaurant hours when you have to work lunch and dinner shifts as I did once in my youth.
Today is cold in Boulder so I felt like staying in bed. But as a dedicated landscape photographer, I roused myself and made it to the trailhead before sunrise. I wanted to see if I could get some better photos of Boulder’s famous Red Rocks than I captured a week or two ago. I did.
On course, I am not just a landscape photographer. I do other things too like writing articles about diabetes. And I even photograph other things besides the landscape. Macro photography also fascinates me, including flowers and insects.
So last week I ordered a macro lens for my new Canon EOS 50D SLR camera. Technically, it is an EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. Practically, it lets me take sharp close-ups. Financially, it cost more than my entire Panasonic Lumix camera did.
Photography is exciting me more and more — and costing me more and more. In the past two or three months I’ve spent $4,000 on this little hobby of mine. It has been worth every penny that I spent in return on my investment in pleasure.
The one big photographic investment that I have yet to make is a good tripod. I already have three of them, but none of them are adequate for my heavy SLR. Now that I have a macro lens, which lacks image stabilization and requires especially careful handling to get really sharp photos, I know that I will have to bite the bullet and shell out $500 to $600 for the best lightweight Gitzo tripod. The cost, however daunting, is not my main concern. I just don’t want to have to carry more weight around in my daypack. But I am now resigned to it.
Meanwhile, being without a decent tripod didn’t stop me from using my new macro lens to take pictures of the flowers near my apartment today. The mostly overcast weather this afternoon was perfect for flowers.
I did have to put a little more of my new-found knowledge of photography to work. I adjusted the white balance. Thinking that this would be too difficult for me to learn, I resisted until now. But it turns out that making a simple switch to a cloudy-day white balance is not only easy but works well to bring out the beauty of the flowers I shot.
Here are one of each of the three colors of flowers that I found this afternoon and shot with my new macro lens.
As a part time landscape photographer, I now have something else to do between the half hour after sunrise and before sunset.