The far northernmost portion of Washington state offers some amazing opportunity for truly unique photographs. Besides the rugged coast and abundant wildlife, there's an incredible rainforest located on the Olympic Peninsula. And, even in a relatively dry year, it's still VERY lush, green and loaded with great subject matter.
We were up there last fall, at the end of a pretty dry year, and all the locals were complaining about the drought-like conditions. Well, for me, it still looked tropical... and the ferns, moss and streams were in fine shape for photos.
Of all the places I've shot in, this forest, with it's thick, dense canopy presented the biggest challenge for color accuracy. As the light filters it's way in through all the branches and leaves, it takes on the color of all the surrounding foliage. So, there's a very yellow-green cast to the light all the time. And, this varies as the day progresses. It's a very similar phenomenon to shooting in the slot canyons of Arizona...with the overhead light bouncing it's way through the high, vertical walls, and taking on all the warm reds of the sandstone. But, in that case, the warmth is a wonderful effect, and even enhances the mood and drama. But, green? I don't think so.
This is a situation where you'll definitely need to do a Custom White balance...and the Expo Disc worked perfectly in this situation. It samples the ambient light, and creates a specific, in-camera filter, which renders all the colors absolutely accurately. Auto white balance will come close, but you'll get varying results, even when shooting in the same light. So, once the color accuracy issue was solved, there was still the issue of the overall QUALITY of the light, which was extremely soft and diffused....with no apparent direction or identifiable source. The first few images were extremely flat and lacking contrast...especially some of the close-up stuff.
But, fixing a low contrast problem when shooting at a close distance is no problem. This is the perfect use for a flash....specifically, off-camera, and modified with a mini soft box, so the contrast increase won't look fake. I'd spotted some very colorful fungus type growth on the bark of one of the moss covered trees....very unusual subject....but, again, the soft light wasn't helping. It needed a little boost, and this is where a flash can add just the pop needed. And using the Metz flash in Manual mode,
I was able to experiment with various output settings, all the way down from full-power to 1/256th power! Once the overall ambient reading was locked in, the fun begins. And, working on a tripod with the self timer firing the shutter, this leaves me with two hands free to move around with the flash, and experiment with varying light patterns. Very cool!
We headed north, and found this old boat, landlocked and tipped over at low tide. The barnacle patch on the side was interesting, but the overall flat light wasn't helping to define the intricate detail. Same solution, the LumiQuest soft box attached to the off-camera flash, and it's perfect.
Early the next while driving back to Seattle, we dropped down into a valley, and ran into a real nice fog bank that was starting to burn-off, as the morning sun warmed things up. These shots were literally taken from next to the highway. And there wasn't much time to waste....once the sun starts penetrating the layer of airborne vapor, it's just about over. But, man, those few minutes of the backlit fog, with the sun's rays streaming through sure make for some fine shooting.
Once back in Seattle, it's always a safe bet to head down to Pike's Market at the water's edge. This vintage farmer's market hasn't changed much in years, and all the fresh flowers, produce and seafood are excellent subjects for shooting......as well as eating!