Copyright Scott Bourne 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Out in the Palouse area of Washington, the skies are big. One of my workshop students called the clouds in the area “Simpsons Clouds” because she said they reminded her of the clouds you see on the Simpsons cartoon.

I made this picture with the new Olympus E-P2 which I am testing for review. I immediately liked the clouds in this shot and it gave me an idea for a teaching post. There are three different lessons you can learn from this photo.

1. Look up – in fact, look up, down and all around. I was actually photographing the grain elevator you’ll see in yesterday’s post about avoiding merges - http://photofocus.com/2010/05/21/photo-competition-tip-avoid-merges/ - then I turned around and looked up and BAM! These big clouds were looming behind me. Remember that sometimes the best shot is in the other direction.

2. See the final picture - Every time I see clouds, I have this vision in my mind of big black and white Ansel Adams skies. When I made this image, even though it was in color, I pre-visualized the final picture as black & white. It helped me to make the exposure in such a way that it would render the way I wanted it to as a black & white image. If you think about this stuff BEFORE you press the shutter, it can go a long way to making you a better photographer.

3. Don’t get religious about holding highlights – I can see it now, someone from your local camera club is screaming that “Scott Bourne made a photo with blown out highlights!” While I do think that ACCIDENTALLY letting the highlights go is a bad thing, I don’t think doing it on purpose is a bad thing. Holding detail in the highlights isn’t something you should turn into a religion.

When I wrote the post – Five Biggest Photo Post-Processing Mistakes – http://photofocus.com/2010/05/17/five-biggest-photo-post-processing-mistakes/, some of the more pedantic in my audience seemed to ignore the qualifier I wrote in number five – don’t blow the highlights. I wrote “There should be details in the highlights (when you expect it.)” I was trying to say that if you aren’t interested in holding detail in the highlights, don’t worry about it. Only if you EXPECT those details to be there do they matter.

In this case, I really like the super hot edges of the cloud. I could have held the highlights there but in my opinion, the image would have been much less interesting if I did.

This post is a great example of why I ask photographers to spend lots of time looking at other photographers’ photos. You can always learn something from a photo; in this case, you can learn at least three things.

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This post sponsored by X-Rite Color and the ColorChecker Passport

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  1. [...] Three Simple Lessons From One Simple Photo Out in the Palouse area of Washington, the skies are big. One of my workshop students called the clouds in the area [...] [...]

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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