After the HEAV Convention last weekend, I stopped in Gretna, Virginia, for an evening and a morning to do some scouting for CAPTURE Virginia. One of the locations I wanted to check out was Smith Mountain Lake State Park. I was on the lookout for small beaches, docks, piers, boardwalks, bridges or whatever else would make for quaint foreground subjects to use at a sunset shootout. Lakes are pretty places, especially at sunset, but unless it is in mountainous territory, they can still appear a little bland without a good foreground subject.
So, as my friend Samuel and I were hiking and driving around, we came across this well situated dock not too far from a parking area. The overhanging leaves impressed me as a great frame, so I pulled out my camera and took a quick shot, completely focused on composition and just checking to see if something might work. Well, I thought it looked pretty cool, so I went to checking all my camera settings.
Oh boy! Evidently the last place I had shot was inside a dark conference meeting room so all my settings were whacko for shooting outdoors. ISO 1600 with f/4.0 in Aperture Priority mode had made for a shutterspeed of 1/6400sec. I took my time changing up the settings to make sure I had everything right before taking another picture, filling Samuel in on what I was doing.
But by then it was too late. Earlier, I had looked up in the sky through the forest canopy at the sun to see how much time I had before sunset, and knew there was no need to be in a hurry. But what I didn’t see, which I now saw looking out over the open water, was that a massive bank of clouds was on the horizon. The beautiful, warm light had disappeared in the less-than-one-minute that I had taken to change my camera settings.
Take a look at the difference the light makes!
The second one is focused properly, and has much less grain (much more noticeable if you zoom in on it), but it simply lacks the color, contrast and “invitation” of the first one. There’s not much that I can learn from this other than the fact that I probably should have checked all my settings right after I stepped out of the car.
Thankfully, cloudy sunsets aren’t always bad. And dusk is a fabulous time to take pictures, so I still feel like I got some good shots from the excursion and think it to be a great place to stop in July for CAPTRUE Virginia!