Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tips for Better Sunset Photography

"The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise and sunset." — Catherine Opie, photographer.

It's true perhaps that these natural spectacles have been overused as photographic subjects. Yet should you happen to have a camera in hand when the landscape is lit by the shades of twilight, it's pretty hard to resist taking just one more shot.

During a holiday this year on pretty Marco Island, Florida,  my daughter and I actually started laughing when I picked up the camera for the fourth consecutive night to try and do justice to the crimson, orange and magenta tinting the sky above the gulf. Every night the blend had offered subtle differences in tone, each seeming more memorable than the one before. However, in checking the results  it was difficult to tell where one session began and another ended.  With dozens of very similar images, my efforts had indeed become clichéd.

The question now then is whether I can change that. Tomorrow, I'm heading out on a little mini-break to a  favourite summer destination along one of the Great Lakes. Known world-wide for its spectacular sunsets, it attracts groups of people to its shoreline every evening as the sun begins to drop below the horizon. They stroll the beach or wander out to the breakwater to sit and experience the event surrounded by nothing more than the water, rocks and quiet.

Having walked among the horde many times over the years, I've used the opportunity to photograph dozens of those glorious sunsets.  After  Marco Island,  however, this time I debated about leaving the camera at home. Did I really need another picture of that incredible vista?  Other than changes in hue and tone was one really any different than another?

However, as the packing began, the camera found its way onto the list. It must accompany me on my twilight strolls to the beach. I know that I will capture as many sunsets as I'm able to witness. There is, you see, the same quest we seek with any picture —to create magic, to capture something even better than what we view through the lens. Imagine, then,  improving upon Mother Nature's most glorious spectacle.

While Opie might feel photographing a sunset or sunrise has become cliché, they are among her subjects. She has said "I like that time is marked by each sunrise and sunset whether or not you actually see it." We are all drawn to them, to this colourful step towards day's end or to its new beginning.  The opportunity to try and create something original from a sunset is difficult, though. Is there really a way to improve upon perfection?

I intend to find out. Here are some tips that I hope will take my sunset photography from banal to brilliant:

5 Tips for Great Sunset Photos from PictureCorrect

10 Ways to Amp Up Your Sunset and Sunrise Photography

15 Tips to Take Better Sunset Photos

How to Take Stunning Sunset Photos With Your iPhone

Monday, June 27, 2016

Inspiring Photos of Beautiful Places

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." — Anatole France

Inspiring words from the 19th-century French writer with a clear intent to motivate. Taken to heart they are not simply a call to action but an encouragement to aspire to greatness through faith and vision.  Whether the goal is in business or simply getting through this morass called life, this is a sentiment with impact expressed simply.

There are fragments of living when a little motivation or inspiration is necessary to get moving on something, to finish it, or from time to time, to just get through the day.  Though the latter comes from mental stimulation and the former occurs when outside influences provide a motive to act, they are connected.  One cannot be inspired with motivation and vice versa. We all need both. We all find them in different places.

Famed artist Pablo Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." The implication being therefore that without the motivation to tackle a job one won't find the inspiration to make it exceptional.   The late football star Vince Lombardi was inspired to take charge of his life to get positive results. "Perfection," he said, "is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

Shakespeare on the other hand, challenged people to dream. "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."


I've always been an introspective person. Many hours of my life have been whiled away in search of answers through the examination of my own thoughts and feelings. The revelations have often motived and inspired me.  Thinking about what changes need to be made, what direction life needs to move, will provide some insights into how to achieve them.

But when the times come the stopper refuses to come unplug, it is nature that will free me. On this I suspect I'm not alone given that we often find words of wisdom stretched across a beautiful image of a picturesque sunset,  majestic mountains, dark forest or rushing waters.

For today then I offer up these terrific photos as a backdrop to your favourite quote to inspire a little Monday motivation.

iCLIPART.com Inspiring Photos

iPHOTOS.com Beautiful Places