Raised among Utah's Wasatch Mountains, internationally-acclaimed photographer Adam Barker (www.adambarkerphotography.com) has a passion for photography matched only by his zest for life. Known for bold landscape and active lifestyle imagery, his love affair with exceptional imagery has translated into stirring editorial work for Outdoor Photographer, Skiing, Ski, Powder, Flyfish Journal, USA Today, The Drake, Adventure Fishing, Mountain Sports & Living, and many more.
Adam: "For many years, I have had this idealistic vision in my head of the perfect wildflower image. It wasn’t much—you know, just a full field of vibrant wildflowers, unbelievable sunset light, and maybe a succinct sunstar to top it all off. Just your usual run-of-the-mill, five-star, once-in-a-lifetime type of image—which might help to explain why I’ve waited so long for the right conditions.
"On this evening at Wolf Creek Pass in northern Utah, I was giddy with anticipation as all of the elements began to fall into place. To capture an image like this, you must be prepared technically and creatively. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I needed to capture it, and all that was left was for Mother Nature to do her part. And that she did.
"I wandered the fields of lupine while the sun remained high in the sky, searching for the perfect, frame-filling composition. As I always do, I chose a spot that offered up spectacular compositions shooting both into, and away from, the sun. It was unclear which direction would be best, and I always like to give myself options depending on what atmospherics occur right at sunset.
"It is imperative to be set up early for shots like this, as the opportunity for a perfect sunstar lasts only about 30-60 seconds as the sun hits, and then dips below the horizon. The sun remained obscured by clouds until it became apparent that a gap on the horizon would make for the dramatic light show I had anticipated so greatly. In a fraction of a second, the world around me exploded with color. Purple, pink, magenta, orange and green—it was enough to overwhelm the senses. The mosquitoes were relentless, and my knees ached from kneeling on the ground for far too long. The beauty and task at hand, however, conquered any distraction.
"I clicked away, checking my histogram incessantly to assure myself I was getting a proper exposure. Key to this image was my Gitzo tripod and 4-stop reverse ND Grad filter to balance the bright sky and sun. I made sure to stop my aperture down to f/18 to ensure a tight sunstar and significant depth of field. Lastly, I studied my LCD display to make sure I wasn’t clipping any flowers unreasonably, filling the frame with a natural, gorgeous and uninterrupted flow of Lupine.
"I continued to shoot well after the sun had set, switching lenses and compositions to continue working the scene. My mind was sharp, knowing I had captured a truly special moment. That drive home was perhaps one of the longest of my life—I couldn’t wait to upload the images and make sure I had indeed done my part. Thankfully, the screen didn’t lie, and I had, in fact, captured my once-in-a-lifetime wildflower sunset."
See Adam Barker at his upcoming seminar, Conquering Composition, on August 23 at pictureline! He'll share techniques and insight into creating three dimensional compositions that immediately engage viewers and leave them entrenched in an image. Register now!