50 Tips to Getting Things Done: Tip 14:

50 Tips to Getting Things Done: Tip 14: What’s the Next Action?: Don’t plan out everything you need to do to finish a project, just focus on the very next thing you need to do to move it forward. Usually doing the next, little thing will lead to another, and another, until we’re either done or we run into a block: we need more information, we need someone else to catch up, etc. Be as concrete and discrete as possible: you can’t “install cable”, all you can do is “call the cable company to request cable installation”. Visit http://www.ContemporaryArtGalleryOnline.com

The Magic Hours Most nature photographer

The Magic Hours

Most nature photographers know that the best light of the day occurs during the first and last hours of sunlight – sunrise and/or sunset. During this time, the sun is low on the horizon and its light travels through more of the atmosphere creating brilliant shades of red, yellow and gold. It’s for that reason photographers have always referred to this time of day as the magic (or golden) hours.

A few years ago, I was on Atlantic City Beach and was able to capture both “bookends” of the same day. In the morning, I shot the sun rising above the Atlantic Ocean. When shooting directly into the sun, it’s very easy to underexpose the photo if your camera is set to a standard automatic mode. Camera meters are very accurate, but there are several situations in which they can be fooled. Shooting toward a bright light source such as the sun is one of those situations. Although you can see the entire scene clearly with your eyes, your meter is basically only “seeing” the overwhelming brightness of the sun. As a result, it will set an exposure that is much too dark for the image as a whole. A solution to this problem is to use a spot meter, which only measures the light in a tiny portion of the scene. Spot meters are standard in most modern cameras and are extremely useful. For this particular shot, I spot-metered a clear area of the sky next to the sun, then locked in that exposure and took the photo.

The sunset photo had the opposite problem. Since the image was comprised primarily of dark tones, a standard meter reading would have generated an overexposure. Using the same technique for the sunset shot, I spot-metered the yellow area of the sky in the center of the frame. This method worked well for both images because the sky and the ground were fairly close in tone. However, had the contrast between the two been more extreme, special filters or exposure blending software would have been needed.
Shooting during the magic hours can definitely produce beautiful colors in your photos. Careful attention to exposure is necessary to insure that these colors remain true and strong. The images I shot that day were further enhanced by the presence of several feathered friends who seemed to enjoy being photographed. In the morning, I had to reposition my tripod after almost shot as I followed these two seagulls along the beach. I was joined by an even larger group of birds later that evening. Seconds after I took my last photo they all flew away.

The warm tones of magic hour photos can be a bit deceiving – suggesting that they were taken on a hot day in the summer. The photos I took in Atlantic City were shot in the dead of winter on a cold day in February.

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F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit http://www.starlitecollection.com.
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