All Hallows Day, 2011, and I met up with Jack Andrys for a fun and quick photo exploration of the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose, California. Quick because it closes at sunset, effectively cutting off half of our “golden light” opportunity. No dawdling either — the rangers come around and make sure you’re out of there at sunset.
Our first target was a waterfall I’d missed the first time I came here in September. Of course, waterfalls mean tripods and long exposures, but the last time I was here I think I went a bit too far with a 10-second exposure, making it tough to tell what the water was. This time I limited my exposure to just a second or two, and I do like the results much better.
For these shots, I also went wild with post processing, doing HDR processing by default, as the contrast of the scenes were usually pretty high. I also altered the colors, not only of the overall scenes, but of specific elements of the photo. For example, I changed the color balance of the shot of the falls through the leaves to be very red to give a fall feeling, but then used the brush in Adobe Lightroom to color the falling water a bit bluish.
We ended the evening at the small building near the main entrance to the gardens. I decided to use a technique I’d heard of but never tried. Take a photo of the scene without any lighting, then walk into the scene with a flash and trigger the camera remotely using a Pocket Wizard Plus II set. In this case, I held the flash to the bottoms of the lanterns around the edge to make them appear like they’re lit. I then combined all the resulting photos into one, making sure only the lit lanterns are included — not me holding the flash.
The result: I think it’ll take me a little practice. For one thing, the missed shot rate of the Pocket Wizards was dismal, even though all their batteries were fresh out of the package. I have found Pocket Wizards to be very temperamental and sometimes frustrating, making my usual go-to remote triggers RadioPoppers.
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