How I Got the Shot – Poppies under the Blazing Arizona Sun

Author: Ambika Balasubramaniyan

Settings:

  • Camera: Canon 5DMIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 II USM
  • Settings: Av (Aperture Priority)1/40 sec, f22, ISO 100, 16mm
  • Filter: None

Location: Bartlett Lake, Arizona

  • This location in Arizona typically explodes with poppies mid-late March if the rain and temperature conditions are conducive to good bloom. In March 2017, the steady moisture over winter delivered a great bloom year for the poppies. In other years, when the rain is inconsistent over winter – there may be very few poppies. Another note, you also find some white & orange poppies here in addition to the yellowish-orange kind!
  • Location guide: Wild in Arizona™: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How(Expanded 2nd Edition) by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry Location #25 Page 102

Vision: An above average heat made for a blazing hot March and I wanted to capture the contrast of the delicate poppies under the blazing Arizona sun – a juxtaposition of hot and cool. I wanted to feature the sun as an integral part of the image in addition to using light the highlight the delicate poppy petals.

Image Capture: I wanted to showcase the sun along with poppies feature the mid-morning sun – higher up in the sky rather than the typical sunrise – on the horizon treatment. I wanted the image to convey “hot” and showcase the sun loving poppies reaching up to soak up the rays. I also included a bit of the surrounding hills to set context. The image capture was set up was with the Canon 16 – 35 mm lens for the wide angle treatment, shooting upwards from below the clump of poppies on a roadside berm to emphasize the poppies reaching up towards the sun. Aperture was set to f22 to include the sun as a “sunburst” in the composition. The small aperture at f22 on the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II USM wide angle lens generates a pleasing starburst.  I also intentionally under exposed the image to ensure a sharp “sunstar” with a workable image that was not over exposed. Remember to remove ALL filters in front of your lens to minimize any lens flare. You may still get some lens flare from the internal elements of the lens but you can do your part in minimizing them!

If you are interested in learning more about sun bursts & different lens that make good ones: https://www.outdoorphotographyguide.com/article/how-to-create-a-starburst-effect/.

Post Processing: Images were post processed in Lightroom CC minimally – some cropping, opening up of the shadows, pop of clarity & saturation in Lightroom.  Some of the lens flare artifacts were also cloned out to clean up the sun.

The key post processing move for this image is the opening up of the shadows that show cases the color of the poppies against the blue sky!

Ambika is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Capturing Clouds : Tips

Author: Kerrick James

Most of my sixty or so Arizona Highways photo workshops have featured the pursuit of Landscape, the endlessly challenging chase for light and drama, texture and natural design that we hope will unite in an evocative slice of time that both defines a place, and your skill in rendering that reality. Somewhat paradoxically, it’s very often the atmospheric phenomena above the land that elevate the image to its greatest impact. In a word, Clouds, are key. Call them ‘icing on the cake’, or any descriptor you wish, but distinctive clouds are always worth waiting or planning for. I’ve whiled away thousands of hours over the years waiting for clouds to arrive or depart, to morph or reveal, and still they surprise, delight and confound me.

Storm clouds of all types are inherently dramatic, and indeed stormlight is my personal favorite situation. But having Clouds in place over a striking graphic landform is always my chief goal, as the clouds themselves without a hint of land are merely meteorological trophies. It seems there are more types of clouds than earthly gemstones, and here are some examples:

Shiprock, New Mexico (linear, horsetail Clouds)

Jungfrau, Switzerland  (clearing storm clouds)

Hunts Mesa, Monument Valley  (morning monsoon clouds)

Three Sisters, Monument Valley (morning monsoon clouds)

Sometimes the clouds are moving at surprising speed over the land, and by using a neutral density filter and very low ISO, you can attain long shutter speeds even in full sunlight. Obviously a sturdy tripod is essential, and don’t forget that you can shoot clouds at night if you have some moonlight to work with.

Colorado River at North Canyon, Grand Canyon  (30 seconds, F 11, ISO 100)

Sunrise light on Totem Pole (Yei Be Chi), Monument Valley (1/10th second, F/16)

Stars and clouds over the Bluemlisalphorn, Switzerland  (172 seconds F8, ISO 100)

And let’s face it, luck favors those who wake up early, or wait past the edge of patience. Last June I finally got sweet light after sunrise, illuminating clouds that featured patterns and weight and well, gravitas, flowing slowly over Double Arch. It only took thirty years to find them there, or to find myself in the right place, at the right moment, watching the clouds go by…

Sunrise clouds over Double Arch, Arches NP, Utah

 

Kerrick James is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops
Space still available in Kerrick’s Glacier workshop July 24-28, 2017