Capturing Beauty Close to Home

A photographer friend of mine here in West Virginia has really encouraged me get out and see more of the natural beauty close to home.

Just a short while ago, we went out to shoot at Valley Falls State Park, West Virginia. It was only an hour’s drive away but I had never been there before. I’ve lived here in West Virginia for over a decade, but with work and all the travel for the ACTION and CAPTURE workshops, I’ve hardly been around to get to know my own state!  What a great place to take pictures. We had a blast!

4046_Valley Falls SP-West Virginia_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 28 mm, 1-8 sec at f - 11, ISO 50

We arrived in the late afternoon and spent a few hours shooting the multiple waterfalls on the Tygart Valley River there until sunset.

4058_Valley Falls SP-West Virginia_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 150 mm, 1-4 sec at f - 22, ISO 50

It’s a great place for photography. Because of the extreme contrast between areas of shadow and sunlight, the general concept behind the camera control of “Exposure Compensation” came in real handy while shooting that evening.

Exposure compensation is a camera setting that allows you to incrementally adjust the exposure to be brighter or darker than the default meter reading. The default meter reading is almost always wrong when you go to shoot high contrast situations.

Ever had one of your pictures turn out too bright or too dark? Exposure compensation will help to fix that.

4071_Valley Falls SP-West Virginia_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 200 mm, 3.2 sec at f - 32, ISO 50

Even for a simple scene, like the one below, the camera meter will most likely create an exposure that would make the picture appear too bright. I’m always overriding the camera’s meter, and exposure compensation is one control that allows you to do that quickly and easily.

4116_Valley Falls SP-West Virginia_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 105 mm, 2.0 sec at f - 11, ISO 50

Exposure Compensation can also assisted in shooting blended high dynamic range exposures, like this crown jewel of the evening:

Valley Falls SP, West Virginia_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 35 mm, 3.2 sec at f - 16, ISO 50

Do you know where exposure compensation is on your camera? It’s definitely on DSLR cameras, is probably on your point and shoot camera, and there’s a good possibility that it’s on your phone or tablet!

If you have it, do you know how to utilize it? I can’t explain it all here, but you can learn all about it the course I’m writing on basic photography. Here’s a snippet from the lesson on exposure compensation:

Lesson 2.6: How to Utilize Exposure Compensation

Snippet from Lesson 2.6

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  1. Nellie P August 18, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    My husband’s call as a pastor has taken us to many states, West Virginia among them. They don’t call it wild and wonderful for nothing! The state and national parks have soooooo much to offer in the way of photo and camping opportunities! Do NOT stop exploring your fantastic back yard!

  2. James August 19, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Thanks for the advice, Nellie!

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