Date Taken: 05/05/2014
Location: Milepost 428
Late afternoon light filters into the mountain ridges near Bear Trap Gap, Milepost 428.
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikkor 55-200
Focal Length: 55mm
Filters: Tiffen sunrise/sunset filter, HiTech 2-stop graduated ND filter
How I Got This Shot: The skies were clear yet hazy on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Bear Trap Gap overlook. I parked at the overlook, then walked down to an opening familiar with most local photographers in the area. As the sun retreated, the remaining light cast a sort of magical glow on the ridges in the distance, so instead of focusing on the sunset itself, I zoomed in to the ridges to capture the setting sun’s effect on them. I used a Tiffen sunrise/sunset filter to emphasize the warmth in the sky, and also stacked my trusty and venerable 2-stop HiTech graduated neutral density filter to hold back the brightness in the sky while retaining the light in the foreground. With a shutter speed as slow as 1/10 of a second, using a tripod and remote shutter was a must to prevent camera shake. The Nikon 55-200 lens is an inexpensive kit lens that occasionally has focusing issues, but when it focuses correctly, its optics and sharpness rival that of any $1800 telephoto zoom lens on the market. It takes patience to work with, but when it works correctly, the results are often stunning.
Post processing only required only light dodging and burning, and I actually had to decrease the color saturation in Lightroom to make the sky more natural (the D7000 captures colors in immensely rich detail). I’ve found as I’ve progressed in processing RAW images, “less is more.”
More from Solitary Traveler Photography