Silent Nature and A. J. Windless
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Deep blue storm clouds approach from behind piles of white salt near the Great Salt Lake.
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Stormy Salt
Sept 1, 1992  Film: Kodachrome 64
I love it when deep dark blue storm clouds backdrop a bright sunlit foreground, and what is amazing here is how well this photograph turned out. One of the biggest challenges a beginning photographer will face is contrast, and understanding contrast is one of the first things you should learn about photography. There is a difference between what your eye can see and what your film can record. As your eyes move from the bright light to the shadows your brain adjusts what you are looking at so that the shadows have detail. Film cannot do that. It records everything in the picture at the same level. That's why if you shoot an image with both bright sunlight and heavily shadowed areas you may get some detail washed out of your sunlit areas while some of your shadows may look black (see my "Mt. Ranier Sunrise" photo.) And what you are using to record your image has a lot to do with how much contrast you can comfortably record. For example, black and white film will give you the widest range of contrast (the most detail) followed by color film, while color transparency, or color slide film, allows only the most narrow range of contrast. Of course, today's digital cameras, especially if your photos are displayed on a digital monitor rather than printed on paper, give you much more contrast to work with. In addition to that, some cameras are set up to take multiple samples and then combine the best parts of the photo into one image. You can also take multiple exposures of your image and then work them in photoshop, combining the correctly exposed dark areas with the correctly exposed bright areas. But understanding what makes a good photograph is much more valuable than trying to change it in photoshop. This is why they say, "Shoot on a cloudy day." Certainly the best way to record faces is in subdued light rather than bright sunlight. What is amazing about the above photo is that it was captured on color slide film, the least forgiving of all the options I have discussed here, and yet it turned out beautifully. Look at how much detail there is in the white salt that is directly in the sunlight. I had no monitor and I could not see the result until after the film was developed, yet I feel the contrast here has been recorded perfectly. I have done no photoshopping in this image, no exposure adjustment, no contrast adjustment, no color balance, nothing at all. I simply developed my film and then years later scanned my film as is, no post scan adjustments (other than cleaning little black dust particles off the image ... I had no air compressor with which to blow the dust off of my film. I clean each of my digital scans by hand, one spot at a time, and it took me about an hour to clean this image.)
Above photo: Piles of salt near the Great Salt Lake. The salt from this lake has made a name for itself on the Bonneville Salt Flats where the world land speed records are set. It's also known because of the fact that you can't sink in the Great Salt Lake. And here you see your table salt being gathered and shipped all over the world.
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