Last summer I took a three day motorcycle trip throughout southern Utah. I always carry my 5D Mark II, tripod and an assortment of lenses along with my amazing Canon S95, which resides in a pocket in my jacket for easy access. Riding a motorcycle opens your eyes and lets you see things you’d never see in a cage, er…car. You’re not isolated from the environment in a neat little cocoon – you’re in it, surrounded by it, part of it. When it’s hot, you’re hot. When it’s raining, you’re wet. You feel the wind and the heat and the sand in your teeth. It’s an experience unlike any other.
Making images with the 5D Mark II requires digging it out of the tankbag, taking off gloves and helmet, finding a place to safely park the bike and the whole process requires more time and effort than I’m usually willing to expend. All this means I end up using the S95 90% of the time. Such is the case with the photo above.
Having just fueled up at Hite, where only 7 years ago Lake Powell was nothing more than rock hard cracked mud, I was on the road north to the Notom-Bullfrom Road. I’d been rained on in the Abajo Mountains and it looked as though I were in for another dousing. As I rode I watched this cloud grow in height, eventually blocking out the sun. Suddenly, rays of light burst from behind the cloud. I knew it wouldn’t last long and there was no hope of photographing it with the big camera. I quickly pulled to the side of the road and, without even stepping off my bike, I quickly photographed this dramatic scene with my trusty S95. It was mid-day light and I knew right away I’d be converting it to black and white. Sure, the image has some flaws. The clouds are totally blown out in areas and I should have included more room at the bottom of the frame. But, I wouldn’t have an image to share with you if I had taken the time to set up the 5D2. This moment lasted only a few seconds. The show would have been all over before I even had the 5D2 out of the bag.
As photographers we get so accustomed to striving for perfection that I’m afraid we may occasionally forget why we’re out there. We enjoy nature, we live for light and we love “the moment”. Some times we ought to leave the big camera in the bag.
For those who might be interested in this sort of stuff, here are the technicals: Photographed in JPEG (yes, JPEG), imported to Lightroom for initial editing and then converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. Clouds and sun rays enhanced using Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast filter (read more about using Color Efex Pro to enhance skies here). That’s it – simple and quick.
Read more about Bret and get info on his workshops here.