Finding Beauty in Strange Places


Weary road travelers park here to close their eyes for a few minutes. It's the typical rest stop with poor restroom facilities, overpriced vending machines, and an oversized map that says "you are here". I never was very good at reading those maps so I took a quick walk around the parking area with my camera. Right before me were intense sunbeams filtering through the trees. It was still early, and the light mixed with the morning mist nicely. The scene would require a tripod, and I questioned if it would even be worth the effort. I mean, could I really make something beautiful at a pit stop? I remembered the quote by Ernst Haas who said "what we see is what we are". I trotted back to the car for my Gitzo.

Before even looking through the viewfinder, I knew this would be a tricky exposure due to the extreme contrast between the shadows and highlights.  My first order of business was to use a small aperture to create a star burst effect with the sun. At f22 this was taken care of. Since the aperture was so small I had to use a slow shutter speed of 1.3 seconds.  My ISO was at 100. This exposure allowed me to show detail in the foliage. Next, I needed to use a 2 stop grad ND filter to balance the bottom portion of the image. I actually let this part of the photo run slightly hot (overexposed) in order to accentuate the sunbeams hitting the ground. This is not something I would ordinarily do, but rules are meant to be broken on occasion.


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