I took advantage of the nice weather Sunday evening to photograph sunset out at Tuttle Creek Lake. I’ve noticed that almost all of the photography I have done this winter has been “waterscapes.” I’ve always really enjoyed photographing water but this winter it seems that I’ve only really been inspired by water. I’m sure once things start to green up this spring I’ll be drawn back out into the Flint Hills, but for now I guess I go where the inspiration takes me.
I wanted a location on the eastern side of Tuttle and a quick check using The Photographer’s Ephemeris revealed that the sunset would be lined up nicely with a small cove not far from the dam at Tuttle…a perfect location for what I had in mind. This cove, like the one I recently wrote about, is only a 10-15 min drive from home and there is a short hiking trail in the area. A short hike to the cove seemed like just the thing for a nice Sunday evening.
When I got to the cove I decided to walk down to the shoreline and photograph sunset using the rocks along the shoreline as my foreground subjects. Often you will read about the importance of the foreground, middle ground, and background in landscape photography. Some people seem to dismiss the sky as a “background” and maybe you can do that when shooting in the mountains or even out in the Flint Hills, but on this evening, the sky was my only background (and a pretty one it was too!). It was a fairly still evening and the reflections of the sunset in the water made for an interesting middle ground and helped tie the water to the sky.
(click on any photo in this post to enlarge it)
I started in the cove itself using the small rocks along the shore as my foreground. To really make these rocks noticeable I selected a low shooting position. I decided to make a panorama of the cove to be able to show the entire cove with one photograph.
After photographing the cove, I wandered down the shoreline toward the dam. It was fun to walk along the edge of the lake composing various photos with the different groups of rocks I came across.
The water was clear (really clear for Tuttle!) near the shore so I also composed a few photos using the rocks under the water as my foreground.
I suppose it may seem boring to some people to walk along the shore just photographing rocks but there was a huge range of shapes, colors, and textures in the rocks to photograph.
At one point I came across a small ice formation left from the last (and only) snow we had. The ice made for an interesting subject and I spent the last of the remaining light making a few photographs of the ice.
My last shot of the day was a bit of a self portrait. I initially started to make these photographs a few years ago as a way to remind myself to take a break from looking through the camera and make sure I spend some time just “being there”. Unfortunately I haven’t been remembering that much lately so I’m going to restart making these photographs. I really do not like having my picture taken, even by myself…the lengths we go through to try to become better people…
All of the photographs in this post except for the last one are HDR’s from 3 to 5 exposures. Even the pano is made up of HDR shots. The pano itself required 3 photographs to span the entire cove and each section of the pano is an HDR made from 4 exposures. Shooting directly into the sunset meant that the dynamic range of the scene was too high for my camera to record with one photograph (but not at all too high for my eyes to see). Unless I wanted to settle for completely black foregrounds or blown out skies the only options available are HDR photographs or split neutral density filters. I used wide angle lenses for these photographs and low shooting positions to emphasize the foreground subjects and high f-stops (18 to 22) for enough depth of field to keep everything sharp. Of course in this low light at f18 and f22 shutter speeds were slow so a tripod was a must. I bracketed my shutter speeds for the HDR’s in manual mode.