Don’t you love it when you hear about something amazing for the first time and it leaves you wondering “how am I only hearing about this now?!”
That happened to me when I first visited Tasmania.
The first half of our visit, Sonia and I were on a tour with a group of photographers and someone mentioned seeing a “Paddy Melon”…
I had to hear the words three or four times before they really registered… Paddy melon… A weird and kinda cute name for an animal.
And when I actually SAW what they were pointing to, the cuteness factor doubled!
So what was it?
Imagine a kangaroo, but not much bigger than a large cat. Really cute! We saw a small handful but not many and not close enough to get a really long look.
Fast forward a few days, our group tour had ended and Sonia and I continued on our own merry way around Tassie.
During a couple of days stay in the state capital Hobart, we went up to the top of Mount Wellington (pictured above).
It’s an awesome view from up there, so we dedicated a couple of sunrise shoots to it. Unfortunately the first was so misty there was virtually zero visibility, but the second attempt gave us the view in my photo at the top of this email.
But what was really special about this is that the road all the way to the top of the mountain (yep there's a road, I shot this image only a few meters from the car park!), the road was teeming with Paddy Melons (or more correctly, Pademelons, as I later found out after googling them – I like Paddy Melon though lol).
It made the drive up take a lot longer because we had to be careful not to hit any of them, but it was worth it just to see so many of these funny furry little creatures. I’d estimate seeing over 50 of them on the road from the bottom of the mountain to the top.
So anyway, that’s what I remember every time I look at this photo.
With regards to taking the shot, this image was three exposures captured seconds before the sun came over the horizon.
Even before the sun came up, the scene was extremely high contrast thanks in part to the cloudless sky lighting up as it did.
But I used those exposures to create a final image that was a little darker than “reality” and tries to capture the pre-dawn feel that actually happened probably 20 minutes prior.
Another win for shooting multiple exposures! (no way I’d have captured this in one).
Something else worth pointing out is the balance of light from the bottom left to the top right of the image.
I mentioned this concept in an email a couple of weeks ago, but it’s always worth repeating with more examples.
My eye naturally enters the image at the bottom-left where the bright rocks grab the attention. Then the bright sky in the top-right naturally draws my eye across the image allowing me to take in the whole scene.
Then, because that even bottom-left to top-right balance exists, it allows my eye to wander back and forth between the two, constantly scanning the image and taking it all in.
I don’t always manage to pull this off in all my images, but using light to create these visual anchors is a great compositional technique. I’d recommend keeping it in mind when you’re next out with your camera.
And when shooting in light like this it’s always recommended to shoot bracketed exposures so you can blend them together later and create a natural-looking high dynamic range finished image.
If you want to learn the ins and outs of how to do that in Photoshop without relying on “pot luck plugins” that produce unpredictable and just plain weird looking HDR images…