Tuesday, August 18, 2009

future's so bright, i've got to wear shades

If you're in to photography at all, you already know light is your biggest challenge. Living here in the desert, where we have more than our share of ambient light (and reflections from ambient light, and glare from ambient light - you get the picture), photography during mid-day is virtually impossible. Generally, every shot is so horribly over-exposed there's no way to correct it the way you can if a picture is, say, equally underexposed.

So, I was pretty happy to be in Michigan where the light is often dampened by cloud cover and shade trees. It certainly expanded the opportunity to get out and shoot in the middle of the afternoon. But, contrary to popular opinion, the entire state of Michigan is not always cloaked in shadows. They do get sunshine. Sometimes a lot of it. (Ok, not 333 days a year, but too much of a good thing isn't such a good thing, people). Sometimes even on days you think you might be able to get some shots of your kid at the pool.

Which is where having a polarizer would come in handy, because increasing the exposure compensation, alone, isn't going to cut the glare off water enough to take a decent shot. As you can see, bright sunlight combined with the reflection off the pool, combined with my lily white, fair skinned child and...well, you practically need sunglasses just to look at the picture.

Wait! Did someone say sunglasses? Why, yes, they did. See, a number of months ago - before the weather was too hot for hiking, I was talking to my friend, Deirdre, about how disappointed I was in some of my shots taken while hiking around the Valley. The light reflecting off everything out here is a photographer's nightmare. And off the cuff, Dee made a suggestion: shoot through your sunglasses. Really? My sunglasses?
I'll say this about that: it's not foolproof, it's awkward, and you're probably not going to shoot any award-winning photos while trying to steady your sunglasses over your lens, while also trying to get your subject in focus, all the while trying to avoid the splash of some stupid kid's cannonball into the pool in close proximity to your expensive electronic equipment, but...
...it'll do in a pinch. And that smile was worth the effort.

With love from The Valley of the Sun.


  1. Isn't that amazing how it works? It's not perfect but in a pinch, it's fabulous! (thanks to my photo buddies for the recommendation)

  2. Right. I'd hate for it to be my only option, but sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do! Thanks for the tip, Dee.



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