December 14, 2013

A Personal Photo Challenge - Let There Be Light

It’s time for A Personal Photo Challenge! “Let There Be Light” is the theme this month. 

A Personal Photo Challenge

This challenge had me working down to the wire! Today I am presenting one interior and two landscaping images that prominently feature light.  I used my Nikon D7100 camera and trusty go-to lens, Nikon's 18-200mm zoom.  Of course, I did my customary post-processing on the images using Photoshop CC and various Nik and Topaz plug-in programs. Please click on the photos to see them bigger!

Now that winter weather has arrived, fall colors are a distant memory. But there was one spectacular morning that Mr. Jim and I enjoyed after we got back home from one of his (very) early appointments for radiation therapy. We walked down to the end of our street and watched the sunrise shine its light across our beloved Hardin Valley. I positioned myself to catch a dramatic sidelight, pushing the limits of the camera lens to avoid any sunlight flares in the photograph. I also wanted to showcase in the composition a hint of the valley below and the gentle rolling hills that march across our east Tennessee landscape. I love how the light sparkles on the golden leaves, blazes the tall grasses, and edges the clouds. It was a glorious scene!

kiss of morning light across Hardin Valley
f/9, 1/00 second, ISO 320

I have been on constant watch for a dramatic sky this past month. I finally caught a lucky break one afternoon as we were sitting on the front porch, enjoying some unseasonably warm weather. A storm front was moving in and the clouds were swirling. I bolted for the camera and managed to take a few shots when magical light beams punctured the cloud cover. I used a high speed for this one to stop the motion and get a sharp image.

Genesis 1, Verses 3-4
f/10, 1/1000 second, ISO 400

I usually avoid indoor photography with artificial lighting, so I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone. This third image is a scene that greets everyone at the entrance of our great room. We have a cherry end table positioned at the bottom of the stairway and next to our sofa. One of our favorite stained-glass lamps decorates the table. The miniature Nantucket basket on the table is a new purchase (from a November fine arts craft fair), and I creatively tucked in a little Santa bear for a whimsical touch. 

I opened up the lens (i.e., set a low aperture number) to get a shallow depth of field for the shot. But I needed to ensure that the lamp, Santa bear, and the basket were all in focus. So I placed the Santa bear and basket parallel to the lamp base. I confess that I didn’t use a tripod for the photo shoot, but instead propped my camera on the back of a dining room chair. (Hey, whatever it takes to get the job done! Right?) I also did quite a bit of digital editing in Photoshop to give the image a professional look, including darkening the background, bumping up the contrast, enhancing detail, and adding a blue filter to reduce the effects of a yellow cast of light. I really like how the light bounces up and nudges the the various edges in the lamp design.

illuminated Santa bear
f/5.6, 1/50 second, ISO 640

Now that you’ve seen my photos and read my post, I hope you will visit A Personal Photo Challenge blog and check out the creative efforts of other participants. Thank you so much!


  1. HI Donna. Your photos are gorgeous! I love the one of Hardin Valley in autumn. One can feel the morning chill and the warmth of the sun's rays as it touches the trees and grass and warms the earth. The photo of the sunburst in the clouds is really spectacular and definitely puts in mind the scripture in Genesis. Beautiful! Your lamp light and the bear in the basket is very nicely done. I love that little bear and basket! Thank you for hosting this meme. I have learned some things about lighting from it and I really appreciate your tips and comments. Have a nice weekend. Pamela

  2. Anyone that can stop the clouds to let the sunbeams hit the earth is a good photographer. I enjoyed all your shots and learning how each was achieved Donna.

  3. Very nice, Donna. I especially like the 2nd one which can be very thought provoking.
    Beautiful lamp also!


  4. They're all beautiful, but that first one is my hands-down favorite. I love that kind of light and landscape. Nice work!

  5. Breathtaking, as always! I can imagine every detail you see - you capture it well. Your wonderful card arrived at the perfect time. Just when I needed a pick-me-up. I smiled and my heart sang! And my sweetheart studied the photo. And wished for the day we will see the bears of Alaska, too.

  6. Oh, that first is such a gorgeous scene, Donna! I am amazed at your command of all the elements of photography...

    It looks like your patience in waiting for a "wow" sky scene was rewarded, for your second photo is filled with "wow" factor.

    And I love the sweet photo highlighting the Santa bear. (And I am swooning over your Nantucket basket!) :)

  7. Wow!~ What amazing photos...absolutely stunning! I love all of them! I'm going to have to take my camera with me during the holidays! :-)
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~

  8. lovely shots. the interior one was finely done!

  9. Donna, as always your photos are exceptional and it is impossible to choose a favorite as each is exceptional in its own way. The morning light in the Hardin Valley shot is so very beautiful. The foliage glows with that golden sun against the more muted background. The sky in the second shot is indeed dramatic as the light beams stream towards earth. A magical moment which you were quick to capture. The lighting in the final shot is perfect. The tiffany lamps are so beautiful as they cast their glow on that tiny basket and the sweet little Santa Bear. Such a warm "inviting" scene... Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful images with us, and hosting this monthly challenge to help us all learn and push ourselves a bit. Merry Christmas to you and Mr. Jim!

  10. They're all beautiful, but I like the one of the lamp the best. I can't name it, but this shot has that quality that I can't seem to achieve, and I'm sure it has something to do with light! One of these days I'll figure it out.

  11. Donna, each one of these is a lesson to be learned. Just wonderful!!!

  12. Donna the pics for the challenge are so lovely - that Tennessee landscape amazing.
    How funny we both included a pic with lights - your colors are beautiful and so clear - that tiny Santa bear makes the scene just perfect.

    Hugs - Mary

  13. Oh Donna your photos are stunning I love the light coming through the clouds. I will grab my camera today and try to get some good light shots. Love leanne

  14. Donna! Absolutely gorgeous shots! I Love your outdoor scenes but that LAMP....the Detail...just beautiful!!!

  15. I always love seeing the rays of sunlight coming through the is almost as good as a rainbow. Love your Fall colors and very pretty lamp. Beautiful photos and wonderful info for us all. I'm learning so much each month and it keeps me more aware during the month. (have you read the book, Clara and Mr. Tiffany? I loved it and think you would, too!) Enjoy your weekend and thanks for challenging us. Hugs!

  16. That first shot reminds me of Scotland, which is going some since I have never been to Scotland and have no idea what I'm talking about. I adore the wee Santa in the light. Beautiful lamp. And now that you've told me about blacking out the background, I am going to try it. You're right! Enlarging really shows how much work went into these photos.

  17. Great photos, Donna… I love the sunbeams in that 2nd shot… I always 'try' to get them when possible… Lighting does make a huge difference when it comes to photography… Thanks for sharing, you talented one!!!!

    Merry Christmas.

  18. I really love your Hardin Valley shot Donna. When I clicked on it, I could see the sun touching the tree tops in the far distance and other touches of light in the background - a very special image.
    The detail in your interior photo is wonderful too, it's such an exquisite lamp.
    Oh I would love to have a play with a good camera... one day!
    Wishing you and Jim a very Happy Christmas dear Donna.

  19. The sky one is my favorite but your indoor one is fantastic too. Love you dear. xoxo

  20. oh wow, your photos are gorgeous I like the sky picture. it looks like blessings from God is shining through.


  21. I have one shot like yours with the rays of the sun coming down. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

  22. glorious is the perfect word; your photos, especially the first one, are glorious!

  23. Gorgeous photos. I love the clarity of the air that seems to shine in the first photo. The golden leaves are so crisp. Just beautiful.

  24. Fantastic photos Donna.
    As they always are.
    But the subject of Light makes these even more special I think!

    Thanks so much again for hosting the photo challenge each month.
    You are a marvel!

    Sorry I am so late visiting your photos.
    Do hope you and Mr Jim have a great break away
    and a wonderful Christmas too.
    Thinking of you too!

  25. These are all lovely, as always! Wonderful post, enjoy your day...


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