With a busy assignment schedule, National Geographic photographer Nevada Wier uses personal travel to explore the world and shape her vision before her next story calls her to a specific destination. Here, Nevada shares her insight for capturing transitioning light in difficult situations.
I’m always looking for situations to photograph that have great light and color, as well as the human element. As a travel photographer I have to work all day no matter the weather conditions.
I was in the lovely portside town of Cochin in southern India, and it was high noon, which meant that I wanted to avoid photographing in the direct, contrasty midday light. The shadows were too harsh and the light was an unattractive hazy white. So I poked my head into various open doorways and found these workers, who were packing garlic for transport. I motioned to my camera, and they nodded and kept working. The intense outside light streamed through the doorway and diffused into a soft glow on the bags in the foreground. This juxtaposed perfectly with the artificial light in the background, where the main workers were picking through the garlic. I loved the complementary colors of yellow and blue, which pop in conjunction with each other.
I moved around, trying a lot of different angles and making sure that I stayed out of their way. I finally decided that the best angle involved three different layers: the golden bags, the worker dragging a bag, and the workers in the doorway. I wanted to use a slowish shutter speed to emphasize the motion of the person dragging the garlic bags but needed the foreground (where I focused) to be sharp. Since I didn’t have a tripod, I held the camera as still as possible in order to photograph with a slow shutter speed and made multiple frames.
Photo Tip: During the middle of the day, when the sun is harsh, photograph indoors to avoid harsh shadows and to take advantage of the bright light streaming through doorways or windows.
Photographed with an Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12-35mm, f/2.8 lens at f/4, 1/10 sec, ISO 800.
See more photos by Nevada Wier on Instagram at @nevadawier.