To hell with blown highlights

or The importance of experimentation and working the scene

Here is a good example why it is so important to work the scene to get the best results from a shoot. We were camped on a 3000m ridge while photographing the majestic peaks of Trishul (7120m) and Nanda Ghunti (6309m) from Brahm Tal in the Garhwal Himalaya. I had just finished a sunrise shoot of the sweeping panorama before us. We spent two night on this ridge. I wrote more about this experience in my last post.

This scene was directly to the east of us and once the sun rose over the ridge it was too bright to shoot in that direction.

Trishul Panorama

Sunrise on Trishul (7120m) and Nanda Ghunti (6309m), Garhwal Himalaya (Click on the image for a larger version)

We were in the process of breaking camp and just before I put away my camera gear for the long trek back to civilisation I decided to take a few shots of the camp. The first one was the one below which is a pretty standard documentary shot of the great little campsite we had perched high o the ridge. I say documentary as it faithfully records the position, setting of the camp, time of day and not too much else. What this shot doesn’t show is the massive Himalayan peaks in front of the tent, as shown in the panorama. This is because the sun was rising right over that ridge and I didn’t think I could capture that scene without blowing out all the highlights.

Camp in Garhwal

The photographer’s camp on the ridge. We got our water from the snow drift behind our tent.

I wasn’t satisfied with the result as it wasn’t dramatic or moody enough so I though, ‘What the heck. I’ll shoot straight into the sun and see what I get’. I stepped around to the back of the tent and composed a shot with the tent in the foreground and the mountains in the background. The result blew me away. I didn’t just capture the scene, I captured the mood and the drama of the scene before us.

The photograph was the best shot I got that trip and one of my most successful shots overall. It has been published in a couple of magazines and on a few websites.

Dawn in the Himalayas

Dawn in the Himalayas, Wanderlust Magazine, May 2012

If I had stopped shooting earlier when I had taken my intended shot of the panorama and documented the scene of our campsite I would never have captured this much more dramatic image. The photograph of the panorama was planned but this, much more successful photograph, was accidental. A serendipitous result of experimentation and exploring all angles, even one that I wasn’t sure would work.

The lesson I learnt from this experience was to really work the scene, experiment, try every angle, be bold and sometimes shoot straight into the sun. Sometimes you have to say, “To hell with blown highlights!”.

Taken on my Nikon D700 and 24-70mm f2.8

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Himalayas, Photography, travel, trekking and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

2 Trackbacks

  1. By To Hell with Blown Highlights on 14/12/2013 at 9:31 am

    […] About the author: Amar Dev Singh is an expedition leader, project manager, photographer and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He has over 20 years of experience organizing expeditions and trips to remote and interesting parts of the world where he snaps stunning photographs that many of us only dream of. You can find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, 500px and Google+. This article was originally published here. […]

  2. By To Hell with Blown Highlights | Photospot on 14/12/2013 at 12:36 pm

    […] About the author: Amar Dev Singh is an expedition leader, project manager, photographer and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He has over 20 years of experience organizing expeditions and trips to remote and interesting parts of the world where he snaps stunning photographs that many of us only dream of. You can find him on his website, Twitter, 500px and Google+. This article was originally published here. […]

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