When I was recently in Germany several friends were asking me to show more photos about the area where we live. Well, the recurrent readers of my blog know that I’m not a fan of the “postcard views”, the pictures that are taken just because the camera owner (sometimes referred as the photographer 😉) was at a location and had to make the click, no matter what time of the day it was and how the light effected the scene.
The subject in the photo above can be photographed several times every day during the summer here at lock & dam #11 in Dubuque, Iowa. The tugboats that move up to fifteen barges up or down the Mississippi River are a great subject for photography. The photo was made at 6:23 PM, and parts of the river had been already in the shade.
Exposing strictly for the highlights makes this image work for me. Exposure compensation had to be dialed in at -1EV. If the shutter speed is still at 1/2500 s, nothing can go wrong. You don’t even need to pan really with your camera to make this shot. The flying pelican was shot at 1/1250 s, still a fast shutter speed, but without panning this would have been a blurry mess.
While in California last week a conversation with one of my customers came up about the Mississippi River. We both agreed that the river looks always muddy, no matter what time of the year. It is no secret that the top soil of the former prairie erodes away, left and right of the river’s path to the south. If you zoom in closely at my first image, you can see the real color of the water at the back of the vessel, stirred up by the ship’s propellor. At the other hand, the surface of the river has an almost intriguing blue color. We all know it is just the reflection of the sky. Knowing about our light source, direction, reflection, and what ever else may influence our image can make the difference between just wasting time or come back with the photo we have in mind.