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Technical Details: Canon 5d MarkII, Canon 16-35mm @16mm, F/16, ISO100, 0.8 sec exposure, no filters
Welcome to today’s post. Zabriskie Point, in my previous post, has an interesting geological relationship to Badwater Basin. Millions of years prior to the actual sinking and widening of Death Valley, a lake covered a large portion of Death Valley including the area around Zabriskie Point. This ancient lake began forming approximately nine million years ago. During several million years of the lake’s existence, sediments were collecting at the bottom in the form of saline mud and gravel from nearby mountains, and ashfalls from the then-active Black Mountain volcanic field (From Wikipedia).
“Sediments collected…”. This is very important to the story. As you know, there is very little rain in Death Valley. The annual average is 2.36 inches. By comparison, Minneapolis averages over 26 inches a year. There isn’t much water in Death Valley. What little there is collects in basins like Badwater, but there is more to the story.
Badwater Basin is what geologists call an endorheic basin. Lake Superior is exorheic. Water flows in and it flows out through rain and snow fall, rivers, seepage through bedrock and evaporation. Its an open system. Badwater is a closed system, or endorheic. Water, all 2.36 inches a year, flows in through runoff from surrounding mountains full of saline mud and then just sits there. This makes sense since its the lowest point in the United States. Badwater is a closed system. Water has no way out except through evaporation. When that drop of water evaporates it leaves behind the salty mud. These sediments go through a cycle of freezing and baking which results in the quintessential patchwork salt formations you see in today’s images.
And check out this very recent story: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111227142623.htm . Apparently some scientists have found a special kind of magnetic microbe growing in the Badwater water that will be useful in the nanotechnology space. I don’t pretend to understand it; it just sounds really cool.
I hope you enjoy today’s images and post. If you do, feel free to click the Facebook Like at the top of the post or share the post to your wall through the Facebook bottom just below here. Thank you.
Welcome to today’s post. I’ve just returned from an amazing photography trip to Death Valley with my good friends, Travis Bechtel and Robert Clark. We had some fantastic light and shooting conditions, but to be honest the trip was great because we laughed and joked the entire time. That, along with some sunshine, felt really good.
I’ve decided to present a few images from the trip that highlight the geology of the park. I hope you find this interesting. Today’s image is a panorama from Zabriskie Point. According to Wikipedia, Zabriskie Point is named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. The company’s famous, iconic twenty-mule teams were used to transport borax from its mining operations in Death Valley. Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located in east of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park and is noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago — long before Death Valley came into existence. The distant valley seen in the image is the “Badwater” playa, one of several playas in the park. In the next few posts you’ll see images from the palyas and I’ll provide a geological history of them.
Technical details of image:
The creation of this image starts by knowing when to shoot here. Both early and late twilight are great, but I prefer shooting “in favor of the light” on my subject. It is often more subtle and less dramatic, but can be more beautiful as well. This is the case in today’s image. A number of things are happening here. We’re in what is we called “pre-light” on the trip. It is a hybrid form of direct light that comes for a short period before sunrise, directional but very soft and warm, from the south east (camera left and behind). You see this falling on Zabriskie Point as well as the Black Mountain range to the west, behind Zabriskie Point. When the light arrived I switched to manual mode and spot meter to pull a good exposure from where I thought the middle of the pano would land. Then I swung the camera left and began to shoot my frames, overlapping them by 50%. I worked very, very fast – this pre-light is changing quickly.
The overlap and consistent exposure from frame to frame allows PTGui to provide a very good stitch and blending. If Aperture Priority mode is used, the exposures will vary in a way (because the light in the scene varies from left to right) that makes stitching messy. I didn’t use a pano head for this. I just shot each frame, repositioning the camera for the same elevation and leveling on each frame. Its not perfect, but PTGui doesn’t need it to be perfect. Just close. The output was a 16 bit .psd file, allowing me to complete the post production with incredible file quality.
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. This is the seventh, and I hope final, attempt at this post. I hope you enjoy it. PLEASE click on images – they appear much better in the lightbox.
I love movies. When friends hear this they are quick to respond, “Ohh. Did you see so and so?” Most likely it will be a first run movie so the typical response from me is, “Nope, I haven’t yet.” I’m cheap. I wait for it to hit the Riverside Theater or show up someplace on the Internet. Suffice it to say that The Big Lebowski still sits near the top of my all time favorites. Another little know fact about movies in the theater – you can get a great idea about how good the movie will be by the quality of the previews.
A stranger joined me at Panorama Point, where these images were shot. Since I never caught his name, I’ll refer to him as The Dude. He pulled out his camera and snapped a few shots early, before sunset, and then headed back to his car. I couldn’t let him do that. I knew what was coming. The first image, the Preview, was too good. So I just blurted out to him, “Dude, the movie hasn’t even started yet. You need to stay another 20 minutes. Trust me on this. We’re just getting a preview of what is to come.”
And with The Dude I stood and made the uncontrollable, audible “ohhhh and ahhhh” noises. The sky began exploded around us. All the way around us. I find awe in those moments of twilight when the sky is in a real-time perceptible state of change. Most of us on any given day may not even give a glance to the sky. Those of us who do are probably considering whether it will rain. Furthermore, during most of the day the sunlight is hitting clouds from above, masking a majority of the character, texture and detail that exists in them. When the sun gets low a few things happen: First, the sun position is changing rapidly, creating rapid change in the circumstances. Second, the clouds are lit from the underside, giving rise to a much greater level of detail, contrast and character. Last, the light warms up in color.
The sky is changing right before your eyes. The color is changing. The texture is changing. It is real-time. It is like watching a movie plot unfold. The first image was a great Preview. The second (and other variations I shot during this 20 minute flick) was the main show. They were shot 15 minutes apart. Nothing perceptibly changes between noon and 12:15pm; it happens in those waning moments of before sunset and into twilight.
I hope for drama and beauty in my landscape images, but also for some relationship between the drama in the sky and the rest of the landscape. I got that in today’s images. As The Dude (in The Big Lebowski) said, “That rug really tied the room together.” And so it is in the clouds, color and landscape.
Technical Details: Canon 5D MkII, Canon 16-35mm lens, ISO100, f/16, 3.2 seconds, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer, bracketed +/- 2 stops for Photomatix (click on image, it always looks better when seen larger)
Welcome to today’s post. As promised, I have some new landscape images from Bandlands National Park to share with you over the next couple of posts, but I had to devise a strategy for sharing them. Options included sharing by order of life threatening moments (fell down a hill in Cedar Pass), by places I had a great conversation with total strangers (Panorama Point), or was nearly attacked by wildlife (Big Horn Ram near Visitor Center). Of course I could use a more conventional strategy, like color vs. BW, but that would be predictable. Since my goal is to share great images and give you a better sense of the park, I’ve decided to go out on a limb and share by location. If you’re thinking of visiting the park and taking some pictures, then these posts might serve as a guide for you.
My journey to the Badlands started late Tuesday night, about 10 pm, after working all day long – a straight drive through the night in hopes of making the east end of the park by sunrise Wednesday. That goal was never really in doubt, at least to the extent of my willingness to drive 90mph, which I did for the last 40 miles or so. Driving at night for over 8 hours is not for the timid. Its exhausting and requires a careful balance of tactics, including caffeine, light food, sunglasses, singing out loud, dimming lights on the dashboard, texting while driving and of course AM talk radio about excessive sightings of UFO’s in Missouri this year.
The good news about So Dak at night is the lack of any human existence and the lack of curves in the interstate. My powers of observation, which are, well…powerful…observed several 30-50 minute intervals during which neither car nor curve was detected. Its a great time to think through the problems in your life, but I will say this; contrary to common cultural wisdom regarding males, I did not think of sex every 7 seconds. Let’s do the math on this – nearly 9 hours on the road equals 32,400 seconds. Divide that by 7 secs and we have 4,629 times I would have thought about sex. No way did that happen. First, 2,117 of those opportunities were given to thinking about the Packers. I counted those. Another 1,977 were given to the show on UFO’s and how I hoped some would show up right there, near Kennebec or Murdo, South Dakota. Of the remaining 534 sex-thought opportunities, 521 went to photography, 11 went to gas/potty break stops, 2 to this blog post and 1 to sex. Truth be told, that 1 sex thought actually had to do with a question that’s plagued me for years now. How do porcupines have sex? Answer: Very carefully.
Ok, so I made it. Heart and nervous system no longer functional. Just twitching. Exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, over-caffeination, excited with what I saw happening in the early twilight of sunrise. I came in to the east side of the park, near the Door and Window trails which are amazing at sunrise. And what a sunrise I had. I shot everywhere I could and needed at least 3 cameras in different locations to truly capture what was happening. But I don’t have three cameras. So I took shots, ran to another spot, took more shots, ran back to another spot, took some more shots and then went back to the car and nearly fell asleep at the wheel on my way to check in to the motel, while you were just waking up.
4 images from Door Trail. The last is a true, 5 frame pano composed of 15 total frames prepared through Photomatix and stitched together using PTGui.
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 5D MKII, Canon 16-35mm @16mm, F/14, ISO100, 4 Sec. Exposure, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer