Bruce talks Spikey Lights from behind the lense

I have recently returned from the Powertraveller 4 Peaks Mountain Challenge in the Eastern Free State.

As a Soutie, heading inland is usually a traumatic experience. Not only is my understanding of Die Taal miserable at best, but the lack of ocean confuses my salty senses. However, a job is needed to be done and we made our way up to the absolutely picturesque game reserve of Moolmanshoek. The Free State might not have an ocean, but damn, do they have mountains. Glorious peaks wrap around the farm creating an unmarked route for the mountain runners that gather there.

Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za
Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za

Not only are the surrounding mountains Drop Dead, but during dawn and dusk, the light turns on and the mountains glow with hues or red and orange.

After our media briefing, it was decided that I will shoot the final 15kms through to the finish. The morning of the race was beautifully still with a trademark Frees Sate sunrise. I trekked my way up to the peak and start my day in the office. Watching the sunrise from these peaks is a highlight for any mountain runner. Warm, golden light is dawned on us making these ancient mountains light up. Now, would be the perfect moment for the race winner, Lucky Miya, to pop over the peak so I can capture the goods in the best light, but it wouldn’t be so. Fifteen minutes later, the sun is higher than I would have liked it and whiter than a doctor’s room and here comes the front runner. Bugger.

Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za
Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za

Making the magic happen in the “Golden Hour” is far easier than when the sun is high and the light is flat. So what do you do when you have to be creative on demand and make sure you keep your loyal clients happy?

I went full on F16 on the sun – and I don’t mean the fighter jet. When I dial my aperture to something like F16, the internal blades create a tiny polygon which in turn gives me these awesome “sun spikes” instead of the hairy glow the sun can usually come out as. This technique is great with any light source that you would like to give a little boost and allows you to make your photography just that bit more interesting. Tying it up with a silhouetted runner, back-lit by the sun it really came out quite brilliantly.. excuse the pun!

Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za
Bruce Viaene / www.bvphoto.co.za

But it doesn’t need to be just full sun to use this technique. Remember that beautiful morning light I was telling you about earlier? It works great in that light too! Instead of the white spikes, the early morning light creates beautiful golden light that will add to your photographs.

Next time you feel that you need to spice things up, give this technique a bash and you may be pleasantly surprised with your final results as you create your own interesting “Light Spikes”.

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