Monday, April 12

Point of View

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“Sprague Lake Sunset” by Robin Conover Canon EOS 6D EF 24–70 mm, 2.8 L lens at 24 mm ISO 100, f22 at ¼ second, Gitzo tripod

As the heat and humidity set in, a summer respite to the mountains is always a welcome break to re-energize my soul. Whether the destination awaits in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado or Glacier National Park in Montana, summer months are a great time to visit higher elevations to find some solitude in photography excursions.

Scouting out the right location is a must to ease frustration and increase your chances of making memorable photographs. Before I visit a park, I usually study a map, check out associated websites and apps and may even take a look at Instagram for possible locations. Many parks have heavily traveled spots that have probably been photographed a million times.

Because these iconic vistas are hard to pass up, I usually photograph them along with other more remote areas. Because I want my images to be as unique as possible, I try to create photographs that reflect my vision and style rather than just snapping a “Kodak Moment” at every frequently visited roadside pullout.

I’ve developed a sense of my own style with landscape photography, and it usually involves strong natural light and weather. I love the beautiful golden-hour light of sunrise and sunset. The low angle of the sun can create wonderful combinations of saturated color with defining highlights and deep shadows. Add a lake or other body of water to the foreground, and the scene can come alive in the reflection.

When I found Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, it had all of those elements. I set up my camera on a tripod and composed the image with a fairly wide-angle lens.

The bright blue sky wasn’t terribly interesting, so I didn’t know if it would be a nice sunset. I added a circular polarizer to emphasize the reflection and placed the horizon off-center, using the rule of thirds.

Waiting for the sunset, I had a few minutes to breathe in the cool mountain air and watch waterfowl feed in the distance. As I get older, I find that taking time to enjoy the majesty of moments like this can be as important as taking the photograph.

As the sun dipped lower on the horizon, I resigned myself to just enjoying the solitude and possibly not getting a great shot because of the bright, clear sky. Just then, I noticed a few clouds rolling in from behind me.

They were moving fast, so I waited for them to fill the sky, perfectly framing the mountain peaks. As they just touched the tallest peak, I made this exposure. Within minutes, thicker clouds moved in and obscured the mountains, leaving this moment in my mind and on my camera.


About Author

Robin Conover has spent the last 23 years documenting the people and places of Tennessee with The Tennessee Magazine. After graduating from Murray State University, Robin began working for magazine in October 1988 as a communications specialist and photojournalist. She now serves as TECA vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. Her interest in preserving the environment and Tennessee’s beautiful natural areas has led her down many miles of trails to capture thousands of images. Robin is currently a board member of the Friends of Radnor Lake, a nonprofit in Nashville. Robin’s images can be seen in greeting cards, calendars, books and at a few fine-art shows she participates in each year.

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