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I photographed along the California coast above Santa Cruz last Saturday, on a day when the light looked particularly unpromising in the afternoon. I'm sharing these two photographs because I think the illustrate some important (to me, anyway!) things about subjects, timing, and light.
1. "Coastal Bluffs in Sunset Light"
The light in this first one is real. In fact, I had to desaturate areas of the cliffs in posts, believe it or not. It is always fun to be on the coastal bluffs in this section of the California coast - even on a day like this one when the light seems unpromising. When I arrived, much earlier in the afternoon, the atmosphere was filled with a dull haze and a weak weather front was arriving from the north and blocking the light from the west. However, as long as nothing closer by blocks the horizon, it is possible that light may arrive for a brief moment as the sun moves below the offshore edge of the clouds before dropping to the horizon. If this happens, there can be a moment of beautiful light just before the the sun is gone. You can never count on this, but if it looks possible I'll often try to be in place for it. It did happen on this evening, and there was intensely warm and colorful light on the bluffs (with the much less brilliant light on the clouds) for perhaps a minute or less.
2. "Davenport Bluffs, Dusk"
The light in the second photograph is also real... but you just cannot see it with your eyes! This photograph was made from very nearly the same spot, but long enough after sunset that it was becoming difficult for me to see. (Making my way back to the car after I put my gear away was a challenge, as I had left my headlamp behind.) It was dark enough that the exposure time was getting up around a half minute. The light changes in all sorts of interesting ways by this point in the evening - it becomes distinctly blue, it is soft and diffused since it comes from a large area of the sky, and subtle color effects that are almost impossible to see - like the pink tones in the clouds - can be captured by the camera.
Edited on Dec 10, 2012 at 09:21 PM · View previous versions