Sunny, 39 Degrees, Calm Winds.
It is a beautiful morning today. The skies are absolutely clear and the temperature is mild. After a winter of frigid temperatures, 40 degrees feels pretty darned mild to us northerners. The high today should reach the mid 50s which will feel like full on spring to us.
I’m still a little under the weather, so I couldn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the morning. With my low energy level, the creative juices are not flowing much so I thought I would try taking the tripod today and shooting some HDR (High Dynamic Range) shots of the woods in the sun. It’s the best way to deal with the extreme contrast between the bright sky and the tree trunks in shadow, but it requires taking three perfectly matched exposures of the same image. That means a tripod is essential.
I’ve been avoiding carry a tripod up to the woods and today I got a taste of why. It’s not fun. The tripod itself is unwieldy. The only reasonable way to carry it is to attach the camera to it and sling it over my shoulder. That feels okay for about 100 feet. The rest of the two mile walk is pretty uncomfortable. I don’t want to do that again, but I know it’s the best way to shoot that high contrast situation which is a key part of the stuff I want to capture on these walks. We will see once I edit the images whether the HDR is worth it or not.
In addition to the discomfort of having the heavy camera and hard tripod legs digging into my shoulder for the better part of an hour, the tripod makes shooting slow and framing shots really unwieldy. You can’t easily crouch down or lean to one side or the other with a tripod. You have to move it. If you want to raise or lower it, it means you need to adjust the length of all three legs. If you’re on a slope, you might need to adjust two legs. It really slows things down.
It’s odd that I find it so unpleasant to use the tripod, because I have used it for virtually every image I’ve shot for years and years. It’s the absolutely correct way to get the sharpest and highest quality image, but now that I’ve been carrying my camera on a strap for a month, it’s hard to go back to. I’ll have to reconcile the contrasting needs of comfort and convenience versus quality and the ability to shoot HDR when needed. I guess I’ll just have to pick my days and/or find a more comfortable way to carry the tripod.
I mentioned that the creative juices have not been flowing of late. Much of that has to do with not feeling well, but some of it has to do with the change in the weather. The recent sunshine and the melting of the snow have changed what I’m seeing in the woods and, to my eye, not for the better. Sunshine can create some beautiful images in the woods, but now the sun is higher in the sky than it has been in winter. That’s making the light less subtle and beautiful. I may have to get up earlier in the summer, something I’m not a fan of.
In addition to the angle of the sun, the high contrast created by sunshine is making the things I was enjoying shooting of late unworkable. I loved the color created by the rainy days, and the foggy days I had made for really nice atmosphere for photographs. In fact, I’m not sure what I can shoot effectively in the sun right now.
I guess I’ll have to figure it out or I’ll have to get up at some ungodly hours to catch the softer morning light. The sun will be rising earlier and earlier from now until late June. Eventually, dawn will be well before 6:00 am. I really didn’t want to get up at 5:00 or 5:30 am for this project but maybe on sunny days I will have to.