Last night’s sunset shoot in the Everglades allowed me to combine cloud formations with landscape features into some compositions of wide open spaces. I think wide open spaces are therapeutic for us urban and suburban dwellers. When you find yourself in a wide open space like a prairie in the Everglades, you realize how much of your time is spent driving and in stores, restaurants, schools and other enclosed spaces. Wide open spaces also bring your attention to the wide open sky and the clouds. Of course, the sky and clouds are always there — but we may be too busy attending to traffic or each other to notice.
Here is my first composition of the prairie, trees and sky in Fakahatchee. I used my wide angle zoom lens at 24 mm and my 3-stop, hard edge neutral density filter (Singh-Ray) to darken the scene above the horizon. For a long focal length (sharp focus near to far), I used f14 at 1/100. Using the ND filter, I had to experiment with the exposure time, until the histogram showed the right amount of highlights and shadows.
In all my shots, I used ISO 100 to give me the sharpest (not grainy) image. I also used my tripod to help me frame each composition carefully and steady the camera for longer exposures. This next image was shot at f11 at 1/100 second. See how different the composition looks as I swivel the camera to the left to take advantage of the changing cloud formation.
I used this cabbage palm (native to Florida) as foreground in this image, F11, 1/60 second with 2-stop ND filter.
Continuing to work with the cabbage palm as my foreground, I used the 3 stop ND filter and a longer exposure, allowing the prairie grass to look lighter, more yellow.
Here was my favorite image of the evening. Clouds were changing rapidly, and this vertical stroke of white called for a vertical composition. The golden, almost rosy light on the grass as the sun set makes the grass a beautiful color.
My last prairie shot of April 9: See the colors of dusk near the horizon. Enjoy the color and texture of the grass at sunset. This setting was f11, 1/10 second with 3 stop ND filter. Matching the cloud formation to the landscape. Thanks to photography, I can share these wide open spaces with you. Prints are available upon request.