Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Shooting a second sunrise with a subject in a landscape, part of Landscape Photography: Washington's Palouse Region.
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- Landscape photography sometimes is about waking up earlier than you want to, braving extreme conditions. You've gotta make that sacrifice to make great images. Here we are for our last sunrise in the Palouse. It is absolutely freezing. Windchill's approaching zero degrees Fahrenheit. We got here just before the sun rose, set up the composition, got back in the cars, kept warm, now we're out, ready to shoot. The light is fantastic. It's just gracing the top of these hills with my subject, three trees, evenly spaced apart.
It's a beautiful subject. I've got the light in the foreground. I've got beautiful, kind of hazy glow in the background. I'm at F11 because my subject is so far off into the distance. ISO two hundred and we've got a shutter speed of one twenty fifth of a second. It's a little bit windy. Remember, we've gotta check. Look for a in vibration and once I take the image, I'm gonna hit play back, zoom in with my loop, and check for sharpness front to back. If it's not sharp I might have to take my ISO to four hundred which will give me a shutter speed of one fiftieth of a second and that will help freeze the scene.
Oh, it's cold, but we're having a great time. The light's fantastic. I'mma keep on shooting this scene. The sun couldn't possibly be at a better angle. This is fascinating. I don't normally come here in November and the sun doesn't normally rise right there in June, obviously. So, having that angle move has created this scene to be better than I imagined it would be and better than it is in June. The light is just perfect.
I had to raise that ISO to four hundred. We've got one sixtieth of a second. I check my histogram. Plenty of space on the left wall and the right wall. You'll notice I'm protecting the lens against lens flare. Always keep note of your fingers. That's the most important thing to keep warm so I'm gonna put 'em in the pocket. Keep 'em movin'. Remmeber to keep shooting through the light. The light is constantly changing. The sun is rising so fast. And it's difficult to know when it's perfect but if you're shooting throughout the process you have a great opportunity to get one image that's better than all the rest.
What makes this scene special, the compression of the hills in the foreground, the light hitting the top of each hill to give me separation between shadow and light, and the tress, we love things in three. It's a very artistic pleasing quality to have things in threes, three trees. They're evenly spaced apart and what I was describing about the angle of the light is that these threes don't have fourth this season but it's just a glow and the branches just have this beautiful glow to them and that's all the angle of the light. And then the angle behind the trees, it's in shadow, which is gonna help set those trees apart and then behind that is just beautiful hazy glow which is pretty standard in the Palouse when you have the low angle of the sun like this.
Oh, this is gonna be one of my favorite shots of the trip for sure. It's a beautiful, beautiful scene. And as a reminder, I haven't really composed and I'm very focused on one subject, and that comes from a lot of experience in this specific location. When you come here for the first time I encourage you to explore, try different compositions, and keep working the scene. For me, I had a clear idea before I came and it's something I'll continue to come to to see it in different conditions with different light. Now, as the sun is rising I see more possibilities open up. So, I'm gonna grab my camera, go that direction, see what I can come up with.
We've got a fantastic yellow stripe that gives contrast to the scene and gives us a unique color. We've been looking at mostly brown. So, to have that yellow is very exciting. It's behind a hill so the sun has gotten high enough where that shot has too much light. Now, the light's starting to come in over here. So, I swung around a hundred and eighty degrees to look at this image. Three hundred and sixty degree view of the scene gives me so many options. So, it's very important in the Palouse to give yourself elevation in order to survey the scene, and chances are you can come away with more than one winning shot.
So, we've got the yellow stripe, I've got a farmhouse as my subject. It's very far in the distance and I'm actually going to include a little layer of the sky which I don't normally do but I'm not as high as I am on (mumbling). I'm a little bit lower. So, I figured just a little bit of sky could be pleasing. All right, F11. I did take my ISO to four hundred. I feel as though the wind is strong enough to justify speeding up that shutter time so it's a one one hundredth of a second. And we're gonna shield from the sun for flare. And the light's looking great. So, I've got that yellow stripe highlighted.
I've got a little bit of cool shadow in the foreground, farmhouse, the rolling hills behind it, and a little strip of sky as well. So, I'm very pleased. I've got the shot I came to get. I kept my eyes open. I saw some interesting light with a beautiful yellow stripe. Came over here and got this. And I'm very happy so it's still freezing cold. So, we're gonna jump back in the cars and warm up, and see what else we can do today. It's a lot of patience. And it's a lot of effort.
But man, if you enjoy this anywhere as close as I do, it's worth it and that repeated effort of getting up early and braving the cold or braving the heat, or whatever may be going on, the more you do it the more you finally kinda get that shot you were looking for and it feels so good. To brave the conditions, to come out here and experience this and get the image, it just makes it special and it's more fun to tell your friends as well. So, brave the elements and go for it.
This makes me think of photographing the arctic. Now, it's not that cold here but I do spend time in Norway, and Sweden, and Iceland, different places where it can get very cold and just a couple of tips for that environment. Having a well built sturdy DSLR is very important. You can check the temperature running on DSLRs. I'm using a Canon 6D and that does very well in the cold. So, just this, it doesn't have to be the top of the line most expensive body but a good, sturdy DSLR. It's important to try not to change lenses in extreme cold as your sensor's susceptible to freezing.
So, we wanna keep that lens on and preferably have it on in the vehicle before we get out. Another thing to consider is ice can build up on the front of your lens element. You need to keep an eye on that lens element and make sure that you're keeping the ice clear or your pictures are going to be very foggy. So, what I do is I use a microfiber cloth and I actually put it on the lens and I just rub it off and sometimes I even have to use my nail a little bit and I just make sure not to scratch it by having that cloth in between me and the ice. And the last reminder I want to give you is condensation.
As you move your camera from extreme cold to the warmth of a car or a hotel or wherever you may be you can get built up condensation so a great tip is to put your camera in a plastic bag and seal it or even putting it in your camera bag and keeping your camera bag sealed and then moving it in will prevent that condensation. You do have to allow time for your camera then to slowly readjust to the new temperature. So, those are some tips of dealing with the cold. It's so important to repeat locations.
In the Palouse we have different seasons and we have different crop cycles. So, I can come back here every month for years and years and it's always different. So, the Palouse is so unique in that. But it's not just the Palouse. Every location is always gonna have different light. Everyday it's different light and that epic light, that truly special light you're looking for the chances of getting that your first trip are very rare. So, I really encourage you to keep revisiting locations over and over again. In addition, the more you visit the more you begin to see things you didn't see before.
A lot of times you visualize what you're looking for and you take the iconic shot but if you keep coming back and you say, "What else is there?" And you can explore, and you'll find that their composition does interesting things. You'll see it differently. So, when you find a place that you like keep going back again, and again, and again. Not only will your images get better but they'll also become more and more unique as you hone your eye.
Then Justin revisits the landscape, shooting panoramas and composites he'll stitch together in post. Next, he reviews the gear he uses, and then treks to Palouse Falls to photograph a waterfall, and explains the special exposure considerations for sunrise shots. In the last chapter, Justin reviews the final images from the trip and shares tips for aspiring landscape photographers.