I like to peruse the galleries and postings of several Internet forums to admire photographs, see how other photographers approach a subject, and gain general knowledge of techniques as well as inspiration when going out on my own.
Yesterday I came across an original and truly unique way to create “atmosphere” when photographing a back-lit tree. Often we rely on lingering fog or heavy morning mist to provide something that sunlight will hit to produce the ethereal look we’re after. But what is a photographer to do if there is no fog, if the humidity is low, or if there simply is nothing in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight?
One ingenious photographer found a novel solution. Get a battery-powered leaf blower and the largest sack of flour you can carry, go behind the tree you want to envelop in dazzling sun beams, and use the leaf blower to spray the flour as high as possible to create a “flour fog” around the tree. This will definitely give the sunlight something to strike in the atmosphere, and when you quickly run around to the other side of the tree where you had previously set up your camera (flour is denser than mist, so you have to work relatively fast), the tree will be surrounded by an atmosphere like nothing you’ve seen before.
If the settling flour starts to coat some of the adjacent plants and create a white film, a backpack sprayer filled with water can quickly clean the plants sufficiently to remove the “snow in summer” effects caused by the flour.
This technique is best applied on a calm day. Whether you want to try this in a national or local park or other location where numbers of people pass by is debatable. It has not yet been proven, but I strongly suspect that park administrators will be less impressed with your ingenuity than with the mess that it will cause. You could try arguing that flour is a food source for little critters, but most places frown on visitors feeding the wildlife.
Still, for sheer originality, you’ve got to hand it to the photographer who first thought “What if…” when walking down the aisle of a grocery store.