Soft Light of the Southern Appalachians

October 11, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It's no secret that the light in the east is different from the light in the west. I'll even venture out and say that the light in the southeast is different from the light in the northeast. 

Being a photographer in the southeastern U.S. means having to deal with a lot of soft light. I think it should really mean having to EMBRACE the soft light. There have been many times when I wanted to capture a nice clean sunset with rolling mountains underneath it. And there have been many times when I ended up capturing something different!

The amount of moisture in the air (especially during the spring and summer months) in the southern Appalachians is very high compared to the amount in the western part of the United States. This can be a positive thing and a negative thing. 

The positive sides of this situation are dramatic misty scenes, soft glowing sunsets and great light dispersion for color photography. 

The negative sides of this situation are cloudy and foggy days which make large vistas hard to capture, too many clouds during sunset which can choke out the sunlight and not enough clarity and contrast to create powerful and moving black and white images. 

With all this said, I've learned to embrace the amount of moisture in the air here. My style is completely different when I shoot in Pisgah National Forest compared to when I shoot in Rocky Mountain National Park, and that's okay. It always takes me a day to adjust when I go out west. I think, "Wow, I can see everything so clearly here! What am I gonna shoot??" I don't really have to think about what I'm going to shoot very much when I'm home in the Blue Ridge. I just kind of know based upon what the weather is doing. 

I've included some images below that I feel greatly demonstrate the concept of soft light in the southern Appalachians. Now, I want to go ahead and say that this light is not exclusive to the southern Appalachians. I know it can appear in all regions of the United States. More often than not though it is the light that we have to work with in this region. During Fall and Winter we have many days with strong light, but who wants to photograph the southern Appalachians in black and white in the fall?? Fall is the time for color! I will be posting soon about the fall color here in the Southern Appalachians, so stay tuned. 

 

Canon 5DmkII, EF 24-105mm f4/L at 85mm

1/4 sec at f18, ISO 100

2-Stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Ridges, Sunset, from the Blue Ridge Parkway, NCRidges, Sunset, from the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

 

Canon 5DmkII, EF 100-300mm f5.6/L at 100mm

1/25 sec at f29, ISO 100

Mount Pisgah, Clouds, Asheville, NCMount Pisgah, Clouds, Asheville, NC

 

Canon 5DmkII, EF 24-105mm f4/L at 50mm

0.6 sec at f18, ISO 100

2-Stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Canon 5DmkII, EF 100-300mm f5.6/L at 220mm

1/25 sec at f13, ISO 100


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