What a Difference the Sky Makes (Learning Lessons From My Colleagues)

There’s no substitute, if you’re a rookie photographer like I am, for having friends who know what they’re doing.

A few days ago my fellow mafioso Greg Thow posted a simply awesome shot entitled “Stairway to the Heavens.” He took it at Regis University last Sunday on day 2 of Doors Open Denver. The funny thing is that I walked past the same shot, looked at it the same way he did, but decided not to shoot it because the skies sucked.

Of course, as you can see from his shot, I missed the boat. He used the ripped gray clouds as a texture field in a way that made the gold accent in the spiral really pop (to say nothing of the cool lens flare that I have no idea how to capture). It violates the expectation of a sky shot and brings an unconventional palette to bear – you don’t look up and expect to be startled by gold.

There are lots of people who are going to buy that one, I predict. Lesson learned.

It kicked of a conversation at Happy Hour the other day. He felt like that shot actually wouldn’t work as well if you had the kind of pretty, puffy white clouds I was looking for. Either gray or blue, but nothing in between. I wasn’t sure, so I went back out yesterday when the sky was more to my liking and shot the image above.

Same perspective, more or less, but very different shots as a result of the skies. The backdrop here doesn’t afford me the same rich gold – I can’t get it in processing without it looking overly doctored (and not quite right). I do get an interesting blue/silver gradient, but it’s what you’d expect, isn’t it? And since I’m trying to learn to see things the way others don’t…

The lesson I take away is a turning-lemons-into-lemonade thing. At a glance, I assumed that the conditions I had yesterday would yield an unarguably superior shot. I like the shot, but Greg’s gold-on-gray is a major league winner.

3 thoughts on “What a Difference the Sky Makes (Learning Lessons From My Colleagues)

  1. Pingback: Spar | 5280 Lens Mafia

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