Making of 40 Photographs #7

This is #7 in my series ‘Making of 40 Photographs’. I love Torres del Paine national Park. There's something very surreal about it and barren. Perhaps its the barren aspect of it which makes it surreal for me. I'm not sure.

So I thought I'd discuss two images in one post. I'd like to see which one you prefer, because for me, I've always thought that quality of light wins over subject matter. But in this instance, my preference is for the more 'natural' day-lit image you see here:

As opposed to this shot (see below).

Yet the thing is, I love early dawn light and had always hoped to get a nice sunrise shot of the Cuernos (horns) of Paine from the edge of Lago Grey.

Which is exactly what I managed to do one morning this past March while back in Torres.

But I think the top image wins for me, because I feel shape wins over light. That curve in the shoreline pulls me into the shot. Admittedly, the light is still rather nice too - very soft overcast light - just after breakfast in fact - helped the image.

We were leaving the little island in lago Pehoe on our way back to the van when I saw the curve shape of the black sand beach. I showed this location to another member of the workshop and tried to illustrate how often, all you're trying to do with photography, is make converging lines and shapes fit in a very simplistic way. Of course great light helps as well and the top image would have been spoiled if I'd taken it even half an hour later..... I know this because I hand held this shot, and was so worried that I'd messed it up, I went back 30 minutes later to take it again, only to be greeted with an unpleasing scene. The light by this time was now harsh and the stillness of the water that is often evident (more so) in the morning than at night (due to the earth having cooled down and therefore no wind).

I rarely shoot hand-held, but the top image was really a case of that. I do remember working out the hyperfocal DOF for it, and realising that it would happily fit into f5 on my 50mm wide angle lens. The shutter speed was just about OK too, but what I forgot to do was re-set the focus on the lens (It's a rangefinder, so I can't see through the lens) before I shot it. Hence why I wanted to go back to shoot it again.

I did use a grad too - a 3 stop hard grad and it was easy to place because there is a definite line on the horizon (waters edge). I didn't have my light meter with me, so I simply pointed the camera around the scene until I felt I got what might be a mid tone and took it from there.