• Last modified 814 days ago (June 1, 2017)


Lakes offer great spots for hot shots

News editor

Marion County’s lakes draw hordes of campers and anglers, but they’re also favorite spots for award-winning outdoor photographers.

The east side of the county lake is where Kevin Fruechting of Marion goes to capture stunning sunsets and wildflowers.

Shooting across the lake at a setting sun, Fruechting said, gives him three distinct palettes to work with: water, trees, and sky. Different textures, forms, lines, and color from each create a richer picture than any one or two elements, he said.

Fruechting uses a digital camera set to manual so that he can choose the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings best suited for rapidly changing conditions. Automatic settings often fail to select exposures that capture the richness of color seen by a photographer, he said.

Wildflowers are plentiful at the lake in June and July and can provide a colorful foreground for a landscape shot incorporating a mid-range element such as a tree or building and distant skies, Fruechting said.

Both Fruechting and Hillsboro photographer Phoebe Janzen said the best times to shoot were early morning and early evening when the quality of light was richer and created more contrast.

Janzen said the one-mile Willow Walk nature trail at Cottonwood Point recreation area at Marion Reservoir was a favorite haunt.

Veering left from the trailhead leads through wooded areas and along shorelines before the trail loops back through tallgrass prairie. Janzen said she likes the opportunities for widely different photos, as well as the varieties of birds and wildlife.

Janzen also is a fan of grabbing a county map and hopping in a car for a drive along lesser-traveled gravel and dirt roads. As with the nature trail, the county’s diverse terrain creates landscapes, flora, and fauna that provide surprises and unique shots, she said.

Fruechting said another favorite spot is a wildflower garden in his own back yard, but that many of the same flowers, insects, and little creatures can be found in ditches along county roads.

Some outdoor shooting tips apply in any situation:

  • If your camera has a manual setting, learn how to use it. Factory presets may not give you the results you want.
  • Whenever possible, avoid shooting in the middle of the day, when light is flat and harsh.
  • Wear insect repellent.
  • Incorporate an object into the foreground when shooting wide-open spaces to give depth to your photo. If none is readily apparent, try shooting from a kneeling or prone position to use grass or rocks for foreground.
  • Sunsets are not over when the sun dips out of sight. Using a tripod and adjusting your camera settings will extend your shooting time by at least 30 minutes and provide big color variations.
  • When shooting landscapes, tiny camera movements can cause fuzzy focus for distant objects. For tack-sharp focus, use a tripod, and if your camera accommodates it, a remote shutter release.
  • Cell phone cameras have become more sophisticated. Check your phone camera for specialized settings for landscape and sunset shots. If your phone doesn’t have those settings, check for downloadable apps that do.
  • Use a computer, online, or phone-based application to make adjustments to your photos.

Last modified June 1, 2017