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Technical Details: Canon 5d MkII, Canon 24-70mm lens, f/16, ISO100, 50 second shutter, 3 stops ND, 2 stops Reverse ND
Welcome to today’s post. This is again Ellingson Island, but shot on Christmas morning almost exactly one week after the image of it in my previous post. My how much things can change in a week.
This is a more technical post, so stop reading now and just enjoy the image if you’re not into the technical blah blah blah. The image below is the RAW file. The color in this file is the result of shooting it cool (relative to conditions), about 6300 degrees K, and the color shift over the sky which comes from stacking Singh Ray filters. I did not mind the color shift and was not concerned about color cast of the image. I knew at that time I was going to work in Black and White and could work the sky and water on separate layers. I could already see where this image was headed while I was shooting it in the field.
The reverse 2 Stop ND held back the sky while allowing me to open up the water a bit. This, along with good color management in Black and White, gives the incredible look in the water while allowing me to hold drama and contrast in the sky. This is a typical look and approach in my black and white work. The water turns to glass and is getting fairly bright, and the clouds are creating an interesting and quiet pattern in the sky. All of this allows the island to come forward as the main subject.
Welcome to today’s post. Today I once again find myself paying homage a good friend. Robert Clark shot an image of Ellingson Island this summer during my workshop and I thought the composition was great. His image is incredibly beautiful and I encourage you to visit Robert’s Blog (full of amazing photography) by clicking here.
Robert’s image inspired me to capture my own version of Ellingson Island and I’ve shared that with you above. Its hard to imagine that this is Lake Superior on the 18th of December, 2011.
I hope you enjoy the image. Over the New Year holiday I’ll be in Death Valley with Robert and Travis Bechtel. I hope we all come home with new and amazing images to share with you. I want to thank all of you for a wonderful 2011 and wish you a joyous and safe holiday season.
Welcome to today’s post. First, I guess its only fair to acknowledge my misleading statements from the previous post. I promised to bring you some photography from a place other than Lake Superior, and its coming, but I haven’t shot it yet. I’m planning a trip to the Badlands next week, weather permitting. In the mean time I want to share with you an image I shot last week at Gooseberry Falls and use it to discuss the concept of The Hero, introduced to me by fashion photog Matthew Jordan Smith.
Hero: a subject of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities. Often understated or unexpected qualities.
A successful image has a hero. This may or may not be in your main subject. The Hero. The hero can take many forms in all styles of photography, but its worth asking in your photography, “Who is the Hero in this image?” Not a super-hero, like Super Man, with the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The hero is often that understated or unexpected secondary subject, supporting subject, that makes the image move from good to great. In landscape photography it can be as simple as a small leaf of color in a big scenic that ties the image together, or a simple cloud structure that rhymes with the lines of the landscape, or the shape of rocks that repeats in some sort of rhythmic pattern. Who is the hero in your photograph? A successful photograph has a hero.
In today’s photo, the heros (in my opinion) are the two tiny falls of water flanking the larger flow. They add that certain, understated quality. They are guardians and protectors of the image, keeping it from being a simple, cliche waterfall shot. They are not random – they are intentional. They are simple, balanced, noble.
Technical Details: Canon 5d MkII, Canon 16-35mm @16mm, ISO50, f/16, 2.5 seconds Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
I need to apologize. Nothing heavy, but you must be tired of seeing images from the North Shore of Lake Superior and for better or worse you’re going to get a good dose of them in the next couple of posts. I don’t even have a good story to tell. No run-ins with animals, no crazy weather, I didn’t drop any expensive electronics into the water, I didn’t risk life or limb to get a shot, didn’t get lost in the dark. A fairly mundane outing by my standards. Nonetheless, last weekend I spent 30 hours racing around some familiar haunts on the shore, mostly asking myself if I had anything new to share; anything that in one way or another might be new or fresh for all of us. I was pretty sure I didn’t until I got home. After going through the images I realized that there are so many new ways to show a tired subject and today’s is no exception.
This is the upper falls or Glen Avon, on the Beaver River. Glen Avon is not in a state park, it’s not one of the quintessential falls like Gooseberry Falls, yet its one of the most intriguing falls I’ve shot on the north shore. Some falls are a one trick pony. Not Glen Avon. I’ve posted several images from Glen Avon going back to last April, the first time I visited the area. I’ve shot there many times since and captured many fun images.
On this day I found myself doing something I often do in my photography; avoiding commitment. I was gaming the weather, the clouds and trying to optimize an outcome. I was not convinced that exciting cloud cover would be around for a shoreline sunset image, so an hour before I would be on the shore I ran up to Glen Avon to scout the water level. Finding it at its lowest since spring thaw, Glen Avon had an entirely new personality and was literally in a new light! The sun has moved quite a ways to the south, presenting the landscape very differently. I shot for 30 minutes, chatted with some strangers that wandered into the area and then packed up to head to the shore for sunset. Some days I hunker down on a spot and some days I keep my feet moving. This weekend I just keep my feet moving – to remain productive, to remain fresh, to change routine, habits, and hopefully see things a little differently.
And I promise by next January I’ll have some new images from other parts of the county! Not sure where yet, but its happening.
Technical Details: Canon 5D MkII, Canon 24 – 70 mm @ 24mm, ISO100, f/14, 63 seconds, Singh Ray Gold & Blue Polorizer, 7 stops of Singh Ray Neutral Density Glass
Quick reminder. Saturday, Nov. 5 is my first photography show, featuring 16 LARGE black and white images of Lake Superior printed on canvas. Proceeds from the event go to an amazing non-profit, DesignWise Medical. I hope to see you all at the event. For more details, please visit the show link here in the blog.
Now, on to today’s post.
I love photography and creating images, as many of you do. Like many of you, much of my inspiration comes from those around me, for if I had to rely on full, self-generated creative thought I probably wouldn’t get very far. Over the past couple of years I’ve blogged about the idea of finding photographers you like and trying to replicate what they have done; not so much to create what they created, but to learn from them, allowing you to put your own spin on things, to inspire you to create from a new place. Today’s post, the first of a two part series on this image, is about just that.
Today’s image/post is inspired by a good friend, great photographer and workshop participant, Gary Olejniczak (click on his name to see some of his stunning fall photography). Gary, like many of my workshop participants, has shown me a new way to see subjects that I have shot many, many times. This is what I find so invigorating as a workshop leader; I get to LEARN from my participants. Gary has shown me how to see differently. I’ve approached this feature of rocks from the same place, the same way so many times and had just about given up on them. Then comes along Gary, who in one sitting with this feature, totally new to him, shows me a composition I had yet to find. A really strong composition. I assure you, and as Gary can attest, my image looks nothing like his, but I wouldn’t have captured this image had Gary not shown me a new way to see it.
As is said in yoga, “Namaste.” The teacher me acknowledges the teacher in you.
Yet, I’m curious about this notion and how other people think of it. Do you think its inappropriate or disingenuous to take your cues from others? Fake? Fraud? Copycat? Maybe a better question is, “How do you learn?”
Part 2 of Post: A tutorial taking you through, in depth, a number of technical approaches to getting this final image.
Technical Details: Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm, ISO100, F/14, 0.3 second exposure, 3 brackets 2stops, Singh Ray 2 stop Rev. ND, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
Welcome to today’s post. Last week I ran my Lake Superior workshop. Students were instructed on the concept of dynamic compositions and techniques used in creating them. One tool is the a strong foreground, and sky that connects with the foreground, in a way that creates a whole image. The presence of a strong horizon line and a disconnect between sky and foreground can inadvertently create two different images from one. Generally, this is not a good thing. This is a particularly challenging tool to work with in landscape photography and really stretches one’s ability to see and to use a lens that creates/aides the relationship between foreground and sky.
Dynamic compositions are created by capturing dynamic color combinations, use of leading and diagonal lines, movement of light, strong foreground/middleground/background relationships. Dynamic compositions can take your mind’s eye on a visual trip through the image. These aren’t requirements for an image to succeed, just helpful tools to work with along the way. In today’s image, I would have loved some additional dramatic twilight color in the sky, but it just never came around, so I get to go back and try again! I did enjoy the shape relationship and visual movement created by both the foreground rocks and cloud structure. For better or worse, I don’t generally shy away from tricky compositions and in this case I put on my rubber boots and risked limb and photo gear, traversing very slippery rocks, to find today’s image. Thanks to Robert Clark for the great capture.
Technical Details: Canon 5d MarkII, Canon 24-70mm @ 24mm, ISO100, F/16, 20 sec. exposure, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
Welcome to today’s post. I just completed my 2011 Lake Superior Landscape photography workshop. My next post will be a tribute to the wonderful participants and images they created, but today’s post is about the process we put them through that resulted in so many wonderful images. I’m going to call it “stretch.”
This year we focused on scouting locations as part of developing students’ approach to landscape photography. This is an exercise very few had been through, let alone taught to do in other workshops. My assistant, Robert Clark, also wrote about this in his blog (http://roberthclarkphotographyblog.com/ ). Many of the students wanted practice shooting moving water so we went up on Glen Avon, on the Beaver River. I’ve shot and previously posted about this very special, but very challenging, landscape. With many potential perspectives, severe contrast on jagged rocks in evening light, difficulty working with the variety of lines created by moving water, getting exposure just right for all of these issues – no wonder the students struggled with compositions. It really stretched their mind’s eye to see better. We scouted it in hard light, shot it in evening light, and returned to shoot it in morning light so students could get the full view of how to approach and see a landscape. In evening light the water compositions are back into the sunset, giving rise to very dark shadows on downstream faces of the rocks and glare coming off the water and into the camera. Students were having difficulty composing such busy, high contrast scenes. In morning light the upstream compositions were all in even, soft light, allowing for more gentle, eye-pleasing perspectives and by then they were very familiar with the landscape. Both Robert and I were amazed by the progression of images from scout to morning light.
Today’s image was in morning light, a shot I saw during the scout in the previous evening.
Technical Details: Pouring rain, slippery granite, treacherous, but in the game (feel free to click on the image for a larger view)
Last weekend my good friend Travis and I spent three days on Lake Superior battling non-stop rain, fog, mist and generally poor photography conditions. I shot over 300 frames, mostly pure garbage. This particular image was shot out of stubbornness and as I consider getting into the rain to take it, I heard in my head the words of another dear friend commenting on an entirely unrelated situation. “Pissy Shmissy. Grab a mit and get in the game.” These words stuck with me right down deep in my gut and I spoke them to Travis as I headed out to set up the shot. To avoid the wind and rain falling on my equipment and on me, I posted up underneath the Hwy 61 bridge over the Beaver River. Equipped with decent rubber boots for footing and paper towel to dry my lens, I began to shoot. I was in the game.
Travis and I had to take whatever each day gave us, which was mostly rain and thick clouds. We’d end each day with a volley of sarcastic comments like, “worst shit I ever shot” or “I’m going to sell my equipment” or “Lake Superior can sure humble a photog.” I’ve spent hours mining my images for something I like from this trip and perhaps this is the one gem of the entire 3 days. It is my visual response to “Pissy Shmissy…” and the motivating quality of that comment. The words we choose matter and can stick with those around us. I’m constantly reminded of this fact. Perhaps some images have the same stickiness.
Today’s image came at the tail end of a great, but interesting day. Weather on the North Shore was gorgeous and I had been out all morning looking a property to purchase. I went into Two Harbors for lunch and decided to return to a few lots for a second look. Upon returning I parked the truck into what could only be described as quick sand.
With no one around, no one to call, I got down on all 4′s and starting digging with my hands, uncovering both front wheels enough to insert some large rocks upon which my 4WD could find purchase. Of course I got out, but then the noise under the front end began. A mile down the road and I found myself here:
A guy I know who lives on this road came by with some pliers and I was back in business in no time and in need of some relaxation. I arrived at The Landing just in time to watch the Kentucky Derby and a little of this:
(sincere apologies to all my packer friends. The other side of the glass said “Miller Lite” and I had to make a quick photo decision). After all this I drove 25 miles back up the shore to the Beaver River, well above the lake to area some locals refer to as Avon Glen. My research reveals that an “Avon” is Celtic for river, and a “Glen” is more like a gorge and less like a valley. The area I was shooting was certainly more valley than gorge, but I do like the sound of Avon Glen, so we’re sticking with it. Some of the finest stretch of river I’ve seen yet on the North Shore. It will take me days to shoot it properly, but today we have an initial take on it.
Technical Details: 10 minutes after sunset, ISO100, f/14, 10 second shutter speed, Canon 5D MkII, Canon 24 -70mm, Adobe Photoshop Conversion to B/W, with Blue/Orange Gradient Map applied in Soft Light Mode, 50% opacity.