It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. …
Tell someone you’re going away for a weekend to Saginaw, Michigan to take photos, and you may receive puzzling expressions—I certainly did. The responses of wonderment I received were mostly from the people I encountered in Saginaw, too. Saginaw is often on lists, but they’re …
As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images.
But, what do you do when the only time you’re able to photograph has harsh midday sun beaming down with unpleasant shadows?
It’s simple: You take pictures.
Don’t let less-than-desirable ambient light ruin what could be a fantastic and rewarding photo outing.
Recently, I had allotted a Saturday to make pictures. Early morning and late evening are wonderful time for photos, but I had a lot of time during the day and I wanted to maximize my time by heading to a small nearby town to “see what I see” as I like to say.
On this particular day, that town happened to be the home of the annual National Trout Festival—Kalkaska, Michigan.
The only dilemma was that the weather forecast called for sun all day. There was a time when I’d get into a funk and choose to simply not take pictures. “If I can’t have perfect light, what’s the point?”, I’d tell myself.
After having this internal conversation with myself many times, I told myself that it was time to overcome the obstacle of harsh light and to get creative with my camera.
You know what happened?
Photographing during midday sun can be great, and I found this out to be true. That’s what happened.
It did require some work to make my images pleasing. First, it’s important to pay attention to shadows. One of my favorite methods of photographing from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. or beyond is try to minimize the shadows as much as possible. I’ll try to find compositions that allow me to avoid shadows as much as possible. Another technique I’ll use is to photographing using film and to expose for the shadows. This leaves detail in the shadows and in the highlights as well, if it’s done correctly.
My camera was a rangefinder and my film speed was ISO 400. That’s a faster speed than I’d really prefer in full sunlight, but I’ve been using ISO 400 for everything so that I can become more accustomed to it, and that’s also the film I had in the camera at the time. I was forced to use a faster shutter speed than I’d prefer, but that’s no big deal.
Now, this can be done with digital as well. When I’m using digital equipment, I make sure to work the shadows in post processing so that they’re not so dark. One suggestion that makes this easier is to make sure you have a good exposure at the start.
Digital cameras are capable of a lot of latitude, but a proper exposure can really help during post processing, so try to nail this out in the field.
Speaking of shadows, another technique to use in midday sun is to photograph in shadows. Some of my favorite light is soft, diffused light on a cloudy day. Shadows can provide that same diffused light. I’ve photographed portraits of people during the middle of the day. What makes it possible is to find a spot in complete shade. By doing this, I know I’ll have a location that will have as even a lighting as possible on my subject’s face.
Finally, a good technique to use while photographing in situations with high-contrast light, is to try to make images with simple and clean backgrounds. I’ve found that trees can often exaggerate already-harsh-light conditions. By finding scenes that have as few distractions and extraneous elements as possible, you can make pleasing images.
There are many elements that go into making images. Light I said, excellent light is really important to making amazing pictures. But, don’t let bad lighting stop you from being creative.
The next time you see some harsh midday sun heading your way, don’t worry about it and simply go out and make images. You may be pleasantly surprised at the great results you achieve.
In the span of only a few days, I went from receiving a photo assignment from The Wall Street Journal, to feeling Lake Huron spray hit my face as we sped toward shipwreck Pewabic, trying to beat inclement weather. As a freelance photographer, when I’m …
When you open your email’s ‘Inbox’ to find that an editor has reached out for you to take photos, it’s exhilarating. Making pictures, being creative, having access to photograph interesting people, places, things, etc., and making money—it all can be as thrilling as it sounds. …
If you’re looking for a foodie destination like no other, it’s time to make Denver your stop. We travel there every year, in November, and spend a day and a night downtown before heading to Estes Park for Thanksgiving. Spending some time in the Mile-High City gives us a chance to acclimate after our flight and, more importantly, it lets us experience this amazing city.
We’ve eaten at a number of restaurants there, and our most recent trip did not disappoint. Pay attention to this post and your taste buds will thank you.
After landing at the Denver International Airport, find the train and take it to downtown Denver. The train is such a convenient, pleasurable and economical way to travel. It cost around $10.50 per person and you’ll be at Union Station in about 40 minutes, not having to worry about white-knuckling through traffic on an unfamiliar highway.
Once you’re at Union Station, take some time to check it out. There are great shops and restaurants right inside. Last year, we spotted a breakfast/brunch place called Snooze, but our flight time wouldn’t let us stop to eat. This year, we stopped and I’m so glad we did. It’s so good that it’s almost worth a missed flight. Almost.
The menu is diverse and the dishes are varied. Since we weren’t driving, we each imbibed on a Morning Marg to sip on. It was wonderful and perfectly crafted with salt and a lime. To eat, Meg had the Huevos Tostada and I had the Pork Chile Verde Benny—I added an avocado, of course. Both dishes caused us to glance at one another upon first bite, to confirm that each other’s dishes were as delicious as our own.
The food and drink far exceeded what we ever could’ve hoped for and the service was second to none. We left Snooze ready to take on a day of exploration in Denver.
This is a post about food, so I’ll keep our Denver exploration information short. For fun, we walked to Larimer Square in the early afternoon and did some window shopping. This is a lively and historic street in Denver and we can’t wait to check it out at night. After Larimer Square, we walked to the REI Flagship store. Our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw how big the store was. Anything you’d ever need for outdoor pursuits is inside. One of my favorite spots was a white board near the entrance where staff members had listed favorite places to hike, bike, ski, etc. We remembered the recommended hike—Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park—and did it because of the suggestion. It was breath taking.
We walked everywhere, so we were getting hungry and couldn’t wait for dinner. Meg had surprised me with reservations to El Five, a tapas-style restaurant with an unbelievable view of downtown Denver. The vibe was lively and the space was perfectly decorated for lighting and ambiance.
The drinks are creative and delicious. We tried the Pasarela (rosemary infused tequila/ cinnamon/ lemon/ ginger beer) and it was one of my top drinks ever tried anywhere.
Twice it was suggested that we order the eggplant fries. We did and they were impossible to stop eating, so we didn’t stop. The European sea bass was our entree and it was small—they are tapas, after all—but so good. The dish was presented like a work of art and the taste solidified the art as ‘fine’.
We took a Lyft back to our hotel and turned in.
When morning arrived, we were excited to eat breakfast. The best part is that there’s a restaurant in the hotel called Apple Blossom. Take some time to look at the menu. It’s beautiful. It was our second time eating here and it was just as good, if not more so, than the first time.
The menu changes frequently with the seasons. But, I had shrimp and grits that blew my mind and Meg ordered a grapefruit bruleé along with eggs and potatoes. The ingredients were fresh and again, the service was impeccable.
If you find yourself in Denver, or you make it a destination for whatever reason, I can’t suggest these restaurants enough. If you try them, you’ll have varied and tasty dining experiences at each location.
It was a Friday afternoon and we drove north after shortened work days, which are the best work days. We traversed the Straits of Mackinac via the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. Our stomachs were rumbling so we decided to stop at the Village Inn in …
Detroit has stolen our hearts…again. With its history, character (and characters), food and architecture, it won’t be the last time, without a doubt. And, that’s ok. Steal away Detroit, steal away. After visiting there for a weekend earlier this year, I wrote a post here …
Few things are as enjoyable as loading some film into a camera and exploring a small, unfamiliar town. It’s the basis for how I came upon the name ‘Village Voyager’, after all. The, often, slow and methodical approach to composition and the new elements of a village not-yet-explored is an almost meditative process. It’s definitely fulfilling.
Last summer, film photography and exploration was exactly what I was embarking upon one morning in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Subdued light was streaming through the bedroom where we were staying and it was so lovely that I couldn’t stay in bed, even though my eyes said that sleep was what I needed.
There wouldn’t be a lot of time for me to photograph based on the schedule of the day, but I don’t think there would ever, or will ever, be enough time to photograph.
Days prior, we’d traveled through a small town called Lake Linden. It was picturesque, small and quaint and had all the characteristics of a Normal Rockwell painting.
So it would be that on a free morning I would travel to Lake Linden to “see what I could see,” as I like to say.
As soon as I started driving through Lake Linden, there were construction workers and orange road barrels everywhere. They were repaving the main street. The unsightly visual elements and my sleepy brain weren’t ideal for making pictures, but this can often be the case. One of the great hurdles of photography is overcoming these challenges to make pictures. For me, at least, if I had to wait for perfect conditions to take pictures, I’d hardly photograph at all.
So, despite the conditions at hand, I decided to park and travel Lake Linden by foot, since this is the best way to explore a place. An open parking space between a couple of pickup trucks presented itself so I situated my vehicle there, felt the warmth of low, summer sun though my driver’s side window, and turned the car off. With camera and light meter in hand, I exited my car.
Photography isn’t completely about visual elements, I feel. To me, it’s a multi-sensory event. A place can have a feel and you may feel a certain way also, and all these variables can, and should, play into how you make images. In fact, the feeling you have is maybe the most important factor in making images.
So, as soon as I exited my vehicle, I could hear the clanging of silverware and the clattering of dishes. I parked across the street from a restaurant. The distinct smell of bacon wafted through the air and besides the restaurant, along with the road repaving, this place was quiet and peaceful.
It’s easy to overthink a photograph so I made every effort to not do that. I walked to a street corner and saw what I felt was a pleasing scene. It included the town, the restaurant, the main street and some buildings in the distance. Sometimes, it’s nice to make a simple photograph without putting too much thought into it, just intuition.
Once that photograph was made, I turned around and saw some writing on a building. As often is the case, I thought, only for a brief moment, about whether or not I should make an image of the building. And, as often is the case, I made the image since I never like to regret not taking a picture, even though this does happen from time to time.
After that, I walked a short distance and was content with the images I made. My time in Lake Linden was up and even though it wasn’t a lot of time, it was time.
Time spent photographing, or creating anything at all, is time well spent. If you don’t have much time to do it, try to be appreciative of the time you do have and take full advantage of it. It’s always worth it.
There are times when the need to create burns inside. If that need, that feeling, wasn’t there, life would be so much easier. But, life wouldn’t be as beautiful and fulfilling. I suppose this is the artist’s dilemma. One of them anyway. If I haven’t …